He May Have Thought He Was Dan Rather's Apparent, But Sean McManus Thought Otherwise
John Roberts is calling it quits at CBS, after getting passed over to be Dan Rather's successor at the Evening News following years as his chief fill-in.
Roberts, complete with his square jaw, sandy gray hair and blue eyes that made him something of a matinee idol at the network, will soon be at CNN, where he will be a senior national correspondent based in Washington.
"For nearly 14 years at the network, and two years at our Miami station, I have been a part of CBS News, and it a huge part of me. Ultimately, though, all relationships must come to an end, and regrettably, it is time to end my relationship here," he wrote in an email to colleagues.
For Roberts, being the chief White House correspondent and anchor of the news on Sunday night while waiting for Rather to leave had apparently worn thin, especially if that big paycheck and higher profile that awaited him would prove elusive.
"Leaving CBS News will be difficult - no question. The ache of anxious anticipation has been gnawing away at me for some time now," he wrote.
Roberts' departure will be a loss. He had the reporting chops to go with his good looks. Roberts was as comfortable ad-libbing a stand-up on the White House lawn as he was reporting from a moving Humvee in Kuwait as it screamed across the desert, or spending days in the stink of post-Katrina New Orleans.
I mostly worked with him in radio, where he'd come in on Sundays to read the 3 p.m. newscast whenever he was in the building to do that night's Evening News. Other anchors, more accustomed to TV, would dread such assignments.
But Roberts, who cut his teeth in radio both as a deejay and newsman in his native Canada, loved the change of pace, and was good as any in reading copy to the time allotted, or swapping out stories on the fly if something went wrong or there was breaking news.
It may have been just your meat-and-potatoes newscast, but Roberts gave it a little extra sheen and authority.
Too bad CBS couldn't have found some other way to give him a showcase. It would be to CNN's advantage to do just that.