The 74-year-old man with the Mets cap pulled far down on his forehead slid into a booth at a diner on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and ordered a glass of milk without so much as turning a head — so quietly, in fact, that it was hard to believe it was Dan Rather.In place of the swagger that had served him so well throughout his 44-year career at CBS News was an obvious sadness that his tenure at the network was ticking down to an inglorious end. Mr. Rather complained that since stepping down as anchor of the ” CBS Evening News” last year, in the aftermath of a reporting scandal, he had been ill used as a correspondent on “60 Minutes” and had been given virtually nothing at all to do for the previous six weeks.
Among the places he had sought solace, he said on a recent afternoon, was in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” George Clooney’s homage to Edward R. Murrow and the CBS News of old, a film that Mr. Rather said he had seen five times in theaters, most recently alone. [Is this Dan’s equivilent of his fbete noire’s talking to the paintings during Watergate?–Ed]
Mr. Rather’s contract with CBS, and “60 Minutes,” is not scheduled to expire until late November. But he said yesterday that he and the network were close to an agreement that would end his tenure early, and that he was seriously mulling a new venture that, at least initially, relatively few viewers would be able to see: he would develop and be the host of a weekly interview program on a high-definition television channel known as HDNet.
The offer, he said, had come directly from Mark Cuban, the unbridled owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, who was a co-founder of HDNet in 2001.
But then of course, so is Rather.