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 Himself - Anchor (23 episodes, 1983-2004)
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9 March 1981 (USA)  »

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Dan Rather - Anchor: [Dan Rather's farewell newscast on March 9, 2005, his 24th anniversary] We've shared a lot in the 24 years we've been meeting here each evening, and before I say 'Good night' this night, I need to say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of wonderful professionals at CBS News, past and present, with whom it's been my honor to work over these years. And a deeply felt thanks to all of you, who have let us into your homes night after night; it has been a privilege, and one never taken lightly. Not...
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Bland corporate product, trained chimp at helm
11 April 2001 | by (Minnesota, USA) – See all my reviews

How fitting that the CBS Evening News should take its place among other entertainments in this database. For like the worst TV and movies, it rarely rises above its own melodramatic ambitions - namely, to stir in a dash of intrigue, to parade a cast of heroes and villains, to paint human complexities in broad strokes, to lurch toward awkward climaxes, and to conspire with its dull audience to expect no more and no less.

Let it be recorded for successive generations that the highest paid news professional in the U.S. at the start of the new millennium has the easiest job. Dan Rather reads the news, and, in a sense, he inhabits the news, too, as a rheumy cough inhabits the throat. Moist-eyed, curiously abashed, folksy, stolid, and mottled, his voice arrhythmically skittering past abrupt silences, a body seeming to yearn to press itself against the camera: the 70-year old Rather is a bizarre physical presence to go along with the even stranger conceit that the world can be explained in thirty minutes and that the nation's leading corporations would like to underwrite the same as a public service.

Rather reads a script, yet he also ad libs, and his lines are either unintentional howlers or hair-raising oubursts from the subconscious. The 2000 presidential election brought out the wordsmith in the man who earns a reported $7 million a year: the race was "tighter than spandex." Forget for a moment that you do not want a haggard 70-year old man to confuse politics with tight-fitting spandex; that's ok, he had other Viagrafied metaphors, too: the race was "like a too-small two-piece bathing suit." Then came banal yet creepy juxtapositions: "Close only counts with hand grenades and horseshoes." And finally a Zen riddle of sorts: "If a frog had sidepockets, he'd carry a handgun." All of this deadpan, without hint of irony. The effect was sheer bathos. But maybe also it suggested that after a career of professional tongue-biting, Rather, the epitome of U.S. journalism's chameleon-like sidling up to power, had no choice but to submit to the surreality of the election and become surreal himself.

About the show's customary product, the less said the better. Nightly, we are entreated to accept this purée as gospel, although it never rises far above the level of rehashing "official" sources with but the lightest smattering of dissident opinion or observation. What do one's government and corporations want one to think? Tune in. His eyes bulging as if some internal pressure were about to jettison them straight from his head, Dan Rather knows. At the end of the show, there will be a nice human interest story (cats in trees, brave mountain climbers) to smooth over any feelings of disquiet caused by the disjunction produced by the eerily detached running commentary and the images of war, famine, pestilence, and greed that have passed over the screen - uncommented upon, neutrally observed, "objectively" quarantined - the sedative administered and the nation resting peacefully for another night.


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