Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dan Rather Not The Savior Needed By CNN

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."

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