With Dan Rather stepping down on March 9 from the anchor chair he’s occupied for 24 years at CBS News, and with the investigation of the sloppy September report on President Bush’s National Guard service that cost four CBS News staffers their jobs last week, network chief Les Moonves said it’s time to radically rethink how CBS presents the evening news. When Rather departs, Moonves told the Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles on Tuesday, CBS is unlikely to replace him with another lone anchor, someone who would probably turn off younger viewers with ”voice of God” proclamations from a desk in New York. Instead, he said, the network may replace Rather with multiple anchors reporting from different cities, much like ABC’s World News Tonight did from 1978 to 1983.
”Those days are over when you have that guy sitting behind the desk who everyone believes to the nth degree,” Moonves told the TV critics. ”It’s sort of an antiquated way of news telling and maybe there’s a new way of doing it.” He continued: ”One of the ways we’re looking at is making it younger and more relevant, something that younger people can relate to as opposed to that guy preaching from the mountaintop about what we should and should not watch.”
Moonves did not comment on a Time magazine report that said that the top name on CBS’ wish list of Rather replacements was NBC’s Katie Couric, even though the Today host still has 16 months to go on her current contract at the rival network, a contract that makes her one of the best paid personalities in all of TV news. Moonves also did not rule out a role on the newscast for the one news anchor on a Viacom outlet whom young people do trust: Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart.