June 21, 2006

CBS chief regrets unceremonious Rather exit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie
Moonves said on Wednesday he was sorry about the bitter
departure of newsman Dan Rather, who left the broadcaster after
protracted talks to renew his contract fell apart.

Rather left CBS News on Monday, capping a distinguished
44-year career as senior statesman of the U.S. news media.

But despite his longstanding role as the face of the CBS
newscast, media watchers said Rather appeared to have been
slowly pushed off the air since a reporting scandal over
President George W. Bush's military record in 2004.

"I'm sorry it ended the way it did," Moonves told
executives at a PricewaterhouseCoopers media event.

"There was no bigger role for him to play anymore," Moonves
said. "He had a very distinguished career. I'm sorry he's
leaving us."

Reports of CBS and Rather failing to reach an agreement to
renew his contract before a November expiration were first
leaked to the Washington Post last week.

"It just isn't in me to sit around doing nothing," Rather
said this week.

Rather, 74, had presided over the daily CBS evening news
for 24 years. He stepped down as anchor in March 2005 and has
since worked for the weekly news program "60 Minutes."

Moonves said that after canceling the "60 Minutes II"
midweek program, air time became scarce for special reports at
the network.

Rather's career spanned historic milestones such as his
coverage of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy's
assassination in 1963 and the Watergate scandal that brought
down President Richard Nixon in 1974.