Millions of extra viewers tuned into NBC Nightly News on Dec. 1 for the farewell broadcast of longtime anchor Tom Brokaw. But the graceful exit of the understated South Dakotan was somewhat overshadowed by the announcement, just a week earlier, that Dan Rather would be leaving his anchor's chair under considerably darker circumstances.
Stung by accusations of bias and sloppy reporting on a story about President Bush's service in the National Guard, Mr. Rather said he would step aside on March 9, two years before the end of his $10 million-a-year contract. The move was cheered by conservatives, who have long viewed Mr. Rather as the most openly liberal member of the network news triumvirate. CBS executives were tight-lipped about a replacement, though Fox News anchor Brit Hume was whispered to be in the running.