Itâs been 10 years since âCBS Evening Newsâ 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 Cubanâs HDNet â now called AXS TV â where heâs hosted several interview shows (âDan Rather Reports,â âThe Big Interviewâ) and worked on documentaries. His next special, âLegends Lost,â 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 didnât imagine anything after I left. Iâd been there for 44 years â it was my work center, my id, if you will. [Leaving CBS] happened fairly suddenly. Iâm very much a âtodayâ person. My attitude was, âAbout yesterday no tears, about tomorrow no fears.â 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 âlegacy interviewâ â I want this to be the best interview theyâve ever done in their lives, and I hope itâs 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. Itâs 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 â and sometimes Iâm wrong â but I wouldnât 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 itâs 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 â but I am concerned one of them wonât 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, itâs no secret, I loved CBS â the history, traditions, ethos, what CBS News stood for for so many years. But itâs 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 … Letâs face it, Iâm especially lucky at this age and stage of my life to still be working at what I love.Having said that, Iâm very much aware that every morning when I wake up and Iâm not looking at dirt itâs a great day.