Now that we no longer have Dan Rather to kick around, I’m beginning to feel a little wistful about his exit. He took a massive pounding from the media fraternity in his final week, and some of the piling on was excessive. (Even Grandpa Walter got his licks in.) Certainly, with his odd monomania, Rather is a poignant figure, like Martha Stewart. As with Martha however, almost anything you can point to about his weirdness is hilarious: His unique phraseology that emerged on election nights could provide an entire book of freakish analogies (my personal fave happened to be, “The race is humming along like Ray Charles”). Then there was the “Gunga Dan” episode, from the U.S.’s earlier foray into Afghanistan, when Rather was captured on film stealing across the border, barefoot, under the shadow of a burnoose. But when it comes to the “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” bashing, the advantage goes to Rather. It turns out that the guy who roughed him up in a lobby on Park Avenue was the same guy who years later shot and killed a technician outside the Today show, while gunning for Katie Couric. And yes, Memogate was handled disastrously by Dan, his staff and CBS management, and never should have happened. But the guts of the story were accurate. He probably deserved better. What’s more, I don’t see any great improvement in vision a-comin’ for CBS. Not only will they not go for the slick hipster audience by hiring a Jon Stewart type (and their version would be pathetic, anyway), but I predict Bob Schieffer will remain in the seat for at least the next 10 years. Odds, anyone?
—Posted by Barbara Lippert