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Cronkite: Rather stayed on too long as anchor

Veteran newsman says Schieffer's promotion overdue
/ Source: The Associated Press

Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather’s predecessor at the “CBS Evening News,” said Monday that Rather’s replacement by Bob Schieffer was overdue.

Rather, 73, ends his run as evening news anchor Wednesday, exactly 24 years after replacing Cronkite. Schieffer, the “Face the Nation” host, will be a temporary fill-in until CBS decides on a permanent replacement.

Cronkite called Schieffer “one of the great television journalists of our time.”

“Although Dan did a fine job, I would have liked to have seen (Schieffer) there a long time ago,” Cronkite said during an interview on CNN. “He would have given the others a real run for their money.”

Cronkite said it was a tribute to Rather that he held on so long.

“It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull up the ratings beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerated his being there for so long,” he told CNN.

But Cronkite did not heavily fault Rather for his role in last September’s discredited story about President Bush’s military service. Rather anchored the “60 Minutes Wednesday” story.

“We all know he made a mistake by now,” Cronkite said. “But would we have done much the same? I would not be sure that I wouldn’t have followed my producers and accepted what they had to offer.”