His long goodbye started with a scandal surrounding a report that President Bush was errant in completing his National Guard duty, and documents detailing how. Within hours of the "60 Minutes" report, a blogger, later identified as Atlanta lawyer Harry MacDougald, questioned the authenticity of the documents. That set off a firestorm of conservative-blog commentary, all pretty much calling for Rather's head.
The culmination was CBS firing producers involved in the story, and Dan Rather stepping down as evening anchor in March 2005. He was still under contract with CBS until November, but in his own statement yesterday, he acknowledged the CBS offered him an office, but not much beyond that. "It just isn't in me to sit around and do nothing," his statement said.
BlogPulse, a tool of BuzzMetrics that tracks what bloggers are saying, captured quite a few of the huzzahs shouted out on the news. Reason.com noted, "Dan Rather has worn his last sweater vest for CBS News and the veteran newsman (read 'venerable laughingstock') did not go quietly." Imao.com had a post that read, "Now that Dan Rather has left CBS, the network will be renamed C," as well as "What door hit Dan Rather in the ass as he left CBS? None -- he was smuggled out the back door in a burlap sack and tossed into a passing taxicab." Others stuck up for Rather, such as the Gawker.com post that read, "Because, hey, after you've given your entire career to one company, you'd expect them to throw you over when you screw up once and the wingnuts demand your scalp."
Not all the posts were commenting on his leaving CBS News, however. Many of the posts mentioned Mark Cuban and his plan to use Rather as host and producer of a one-hour weekly news program for HDNet, a high-definition TV channel that Mr. Cuban's company owns. Others mentioned Rather in relation to Connie Chung, whose bizarre singing send-off on her own show has become a viral video online. Watercooler, for one, is glad Rather didn't serenade us on his way out.