Dan Rather Replacement

Apparently, CBS is still mulling over candidates to replace Dan Rather.  Apparently, they have reduced the candidates of a "short list" of the people who might improve ratings over those garnered by Rather.  Unfortunately, this criteria has limited the list to ... just about everybody.  While this and other articles bandy about candidates, I still think my list was pretty good:

Improve ratings approach #1:  Finally get rid of the pretense that anchors are journalists rather than pretty talking heads.  Hire Nicolette Sheridan, or maybe Terri Hatcher.  Or, if you feel CBS News deserves more gravitas, in the Murrow tradition, how about Meryl Streep?

Improve ratings approach #2:  Go with comedy.  Bring in David Letterman from the Late Show to anchor the evening news.  "Tonight, we start with the growing UN oil for food scandal.  Uma - Anann.  Anann - Uma."  Or, if you want to segment the market differently, how about Tim Allen and the CBS News for Guys.  Or, if CBS wants to keep hitting the older demographic - what about Chevy Chase - certainly he already has anchor experience from SNL.

Improving Credibility Choice:  No one in the MSM really has much credibility left after the last election, but there is one man who would bring instant credibility to CBS News -- Bob Costas.  CBS should hire him away from NBC, like they did with Letterman.  Make him the evening news anchor.  Heck, if Bryant Gumbell can make the transition to the news division, certainly Costas can.

Become the acknowledged liberal counterpoint to Fox:  Hire Bill Clinton as anchor.  Nothing would generate more buzz than that hire, and he is at loose ends anyway (and think about all those wonderful business trips away from home...)  If Bill is not available, try James Carville.  I might even have to watch that.

Let the public decide:  Forget making a decision, and just create a new reality show like ESPN's Dream Job to choose the next anchor.  Each week the 12 finalists can be given a new task.  In week one, they have to pick up incriminating evidence about the President at a rodeo.  In week 2, they have to forge a believable set of documents from the early 70's, and survive criticism from about 10,000 bloggers.  They can kick one off the island each week based on the viewers votes.

CBS, and in fact all the network news programs, have a problem which caused me to rename them from the Tiffany network to "the Buick network":  Their median age news viewer was born while Hitler still ruled Germany.  As I wrote in that article,

It turns out that the network news programs have exactly the same problem, though none of them profess to be worried, despite the fact that the networks are losing share to competitors at a much faster clip than are US auto makers.  Journalism.org reports that the median age of an ABC News viewer is about 59, of an NBC News viewer is 60 and of a CBS News viewer is over 61.  Everyone who is younger has switched to cable, switched to the Internet, or switched off altogether.

More here.

  • Craig

    I like idea #1. I think Saturday Night Live has hit on a good concept with a duo of attractive female anchors on its "Weekend Update" segment. CBS should duplicate it with Teri Hatcher and Nicolette Sheridan.