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Goodbye, Dan, Again (Updated) (And Bye, Connie, Please!)

By RD Heldenfels Published: June 20, 2006

Much buzzing the last couple of days about Dan Rather leaving CBS after 44 years. It's now official, as you can read here. No doubt this will prompt extended reflection on his career, his influence and his decline.

But didn't we do this already?

When Rather stepped down as anchor of ''The CBS Evening News'' in March 2005, that effectively marked the end of Rather as a bright star in the TV news universe. His place in TV news was duly assessed, and the only thing that has changed since then is, well, nothing. He went into network limbo, and there he has stayed.

The end of his deal with CBS will free him from that limb, allowing him to pursue other work, of course. Big-name former newsmen can keep working as long as they choose -- be it on public television, cable or in commercials. They can also be sought out for the occasional pithy quote during anything that looks like a major change in TV news. (''So, Dan, did you watch Katie's debut?'') Already there are reports that Rather will sign with HDNet to do a newscast once his CBS gig is over, although I'd prefer a weekly hour of Rather talking with HDNet boss Mark Cuban. (Yes, the guy who owns the Mavs -- giving him and Rather both an association with Dallas.)

That's not a slam at Cuban, either. I met Cuban a few years ago and liked him; he may be outspoken, but he also stands ready for the heat. It's remarkable to meet a guy that rich who gives out his e-mail address to a roomful of reporters. So put him with a Rather who has nothing to fear -- and no further need to overload metaphors -- and we could all have some fun.

I suppose Connie Chung -- Rather's former co-anchor -- thought she was having fun when she ended her MSNBC series with a musical number. (You can find it here, and be glad that there is YouTube.) But it's just bad. Scary bad. So bad, I may watch it again.

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