Newsday TV writer Verne Gay's trenchant observations about the tube are usually on target. But he lost his way yesterday campaigning for ratings-challenged CNN to lasso Dan Rather into its fold pronto.
Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. His reporting credentials are unquestioned (the Bush National Guard memo stink notwithstanding) and as he approaches age 74 he's still in a position to bring instant gravitas into any employer (Full disclosure: I wrote some commentaries and radio newscasts for Dan).
Gay postulates Rather would be more than a novelty attraction at CNN. Which would be true -- for about a week.
Let's not forget that Rather on the CBS News was not only in third place, but was a distant third. True, some of that could be chalked up to poor lead-ins in major market (e.g. Oprah helps many ABC stations kick daytime butt).
However, there were times in places like Chicago where Rather was the sixth-place show, meaning sitcom repeats were valued by more viewers than the news, at least the version rendered by CBS.
In other words, Rather could well find a home on CNN, but don't look for him to deliver it from the wilderness since Fox and its red-state denizens decreed who ruled the cable-news roost. And given that CNN appears to be trending more toward a shorter, peppier and, yes, younger approach, is there really room for a high-priced tarnished star to come on in?
Lots of intrigue. Lots of anguish. As Dan might be heard saying again someday: "Courage."