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January 18, 2005
CBS: The Chicago Cubs Of Network News

CBS chief Les Moonves told reporters today that he's leaning towards using a rotating series of talking heads, reading news reports from various cities, as a replacement plan for Dan Rather's position as anchorman. He inadvertently nails the problem that CBS News created while essentially surrendering to its effects:

CBS will probably replace Dan Rather on the evening news with a multi-anchor, perhaps multi-city format that changes the "antiquated" way of reporting the day's top stories, CBS chief Leslie Moonves said Tuesday.

Moonves, who will ultimately select Rather's replacement, said he believes many young viewers are turned off by a single "voice of God" anchor in the Internet age. ...

"Those days are over when you have that guy sitting behind the desk who everyone believes to the `nth' degree," Moonves told reporters. "It's sort of an antiquated way of news telling and maybe there's a new way of doing it."

Thanks to Moonves, Rather, and Andrew Heyward, no one believes the man behind the desk to the "nth degree" or anywhere else. They believe those reports that have substantiation and authenticated evidence, an issue that Moonves' rotating heads won't resolve either. Why would having four or five different people reading what other people write give CBS any more credibility than they have now? Granted, having Rather in front of a story automatically damages their viewers' trust, but the same people making the big decisions still work at CBS News: Rather and Heyward. Until CBS admits its political biases and cleans house, everything they do will be suspect, no matter how many pretty faces they put in front of the camera.

It recalls the efforts of another sad-sack organization, the Chicago Cubs, in the 1960s. Faced with a long losing streak, the brilliant minds at Wrigley Field decided that instead of hiring a manager with some intelligence, they would create the College of Coaches (see 1962). The CoC consisted of eight baseball coaches with equal rank, and all decisions would be made by consensus. The Cubs used this system for two years, and it did have a dramatic impact: they lost 103 games in 1962, finishing below an expansion club, the Houston Colt 45s (later the Astros).

Maybe Moonves wants to transform CBS into the Chicago Cubs of network news broadcasters. Someone needs to tell him they're already there.

UPDATE: In what has to be the comment of the day, Chuck G notes that I'm targeting the wrong side of the Windy City:

Speaking as a Cubs fan, I'd much prefer the term 'the Black Sox of network news'.

I mean, the Cubs might be completely unable to hit the damn ball, but at least they're honestly *trying* to. CBS, on the other hand, is deliberately fixing games.

Chuck, you do make an excellent point ...

UPDATE II: Houston Colt 45s; I've updated it above.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 18, 2005 5:14 PM

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» CBS News to go to multiple-anchor format? from
When the broth is already spoiled, there's no danger in having too many cooks. So goes the logic at CBS News, where the Dan Rather "Memogate" scandal has rocked the once-respected news organization to its core. Things have gotten so bad there th... [Read More]

Tracked on January 19, 2005 11:47 AM

» Multiple Dan Rathers? And a court jester too? from Angry in the Great White North
Captain's Quarter's has a great post about the latest idea to ooze out of the head of Les Moonves. Apparently, he's thinking about have a rotating series of anchors reading the news from various cities. [Read More]

Tracked on January 19, 2005 11:56 AM

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