Dan Rather: Journalism ‘has moved on’ from archaic evening news – New York Post


Dan Rather joined AXS TV, then called HDNet, in 2006 after CBS News cut its ties with him.

It’s been 10 years since “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather was forced out of CBS after his report on the George W. Bush National Guard documents.

Shortly thereafter, Rather landed at Internet billionaire Mark Cuban’s HDNet — now called AXS TV — where he’s hosted several interview shows (“Dan Rather Reports,” “The Big Interview”) and worked on documentaries. His next special, “Legends Lost,” airs June 7 and examines the recent deaths of Prince, BB King, Natalie Cole, Merle Haggard and David Bowie.

Rather, who turns 85 in October, shares his thoughts on being shown the door at CBS News, the state of TV news today and retiring (or not).

Did you ever see yourself doing these kinds of entertainment shows after a career of doing hard news?

I never had a blueprint [after leaving CBS News]. I didn’t imagine anything after I left. I’d been there for 44 years — it was my work center, my id, if you will. [Leaving CBS] happened fairly suddenly. I’m very much a “today” person. My attitude was, “About yesterday no tears, about tomorrow no fears.” Enter Mark Cuban. What I found is that there are very few places where people were doing in-depth interviews on any subject. I have a good deal of interest in this, and while most people [I interview] are in the entertainment business in one way or another, by and large they have lives outside of that. Most of them have traveled the world and some of them are very good business people. I found myself very engaged in this. The object is to create a “legacy interview” — I want this to be the best interview they’ve ever done in their lives, and I hope it’s something their children and grandchildren may want to watch after they leave.

Can the evening news format still work?

All three of the evening newscasts are anchored by really good TV anchor people, and each broadcast has its own style. It’s a different world for journalism now, and I know that, if left to their own devices, they would do a more substantial hard-news broadcast. But they do the best they can. This is my own opinion — and sometimes I’m wrong — but I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or more of the evening news broadcasts either done away with or moved going forward the next few years. The journalism world has moved on; everybody is looking at a digital environment. You can already see the first signs, with CBS News recently announcing it’s doing away with its weekend newscast because it wants to put more emphasis on its digital effort. I still think the evening newscast is important and is a national institution — but I am concerned one of them won’t be around in the three-to-five-year range.

Are you still in touch with anyone at CBS?

I am in touch with any number of people there and I still have friends there. Look, it’s no secret, I loved CBS — the history, traditions, ethos, what CBS News stood for for so many years. But it’s so far back in the rear view mirror now that I rarely think about it anymore.

Is there retirement in your future?

The short answer is no. I think retirement is fine for a lot of people, but as long as I have my health I intend to continue working. Though I have many flaws and have made mistakes, I think even my worst enemy would [say] that I have a passion for this work. I love it. I like to fish and take long walks with my wife and grandkids and kids, but … Let’s face it, I’m especially lucky at this age and stage of my life to still be working at what I love.Having said that, I’m very much aware that every morning when I wake up and I’m not looking at dirt it’s a great day.

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