We’ve never thought network news anchors spawned cottage industries—that seems more the role of precocious teen actresses/singers like Lindsey Lohan. But in the wake of the news that Dan Rather will step down from the anchor role at CBS Evening News, AdFreak realizes it’s actually true, especially around the Internet—even if the market for Dan Rather T-shirts on eBay isn’t exactly hot. Now, for those who’ve devoted countless late-night hours to his every word and hand gesture, the question is: What do we do now?
For one site, Ratherbiased.com, the answer seems to be to pat each other on the back and call it a day. In a statement prepared in the manner of all too many we’ve seen on network newscasts, the site’s brass said yesterday: “We will be moving on after Dan’s retirement. As of now, our plans are not finalized so we cannot give too much detail.” Danrathermustgo.com so far has been mute on the news, but the plucky folks at Rathergate.com have already found a new mission. Noting that Rather isn’t exactly retiring, since he will continue to report for the network, they have launched a fax campaign asking affiliates to press CBS to get Rather to entirely leave.
In visiting these sites, there’s no sign that any of them actually made money off their obsession with Rather. The real winners on that score were R.E.M., who, in 1994 released “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”—a song that referenced a 1986 incident in which Rather was mugged by an assailant purportedly blubbering “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” over and over.
—Posted by Catharine P. Taylor