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Rather successor to be named in 2005

Network has at least two in-house candidates
/ Source: The Associated Press

CBS doesn’t expect to name the next anchorman of the “CBS Evening News” until at least the beginning of next year.

That’s from CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves, who will likely have the final say on the question.

CBS is awaiting the release of an independent review into the “60 Minutes Wednesday” story that cast doubt on President Bush’s service in the National Guard. CBS apologized for the story after concluding it was based, in part, on allegedly forged documents.

A harsh report could have consequences for top CBS News management, who would be involved in picking Rather’s successor.

CBS wouldn’t talk about how it would go about choosing the replacement for Dan Rather, who announced Tuesday that he would step down from the anchor’s job on March 9.

“The process for choosing a successor is an internal one and we’ll make an answer about Dan’s successor at the appropriate time,” CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said Wednesday.

Two leading in-house candidates: John Roberts and Scott Pelley.

Roberts, 48, has been CBS’ chief White House correspondent since 1999. Between that and subbing for Rather, he’s a familiar face to “CBS Evening News” viewers.

Pelley, 47, preceded Roberts on the White House beat and has been a correspondent for “60 Minutes Wednesday.”

CBS will also look outside its news division but may have trouble finding a higher-profile name than the people already at the network. Diane Sawyer used to work at CBS News but she’s considered unlikely to leave ABC News.

“We’ve always said we would do both,” CBS News President Andrew Heyward said. “The transition on the evening news is something that we’ve thought about for a while. We certainly have excellent people within CBS who are qualified for the job.”

It’s unusual for such an important job to be an open question.

NBC News announced more than two years ago that Brian Williams would replace Tom Brokaw at “Nightly News.” Williams’ debut is Dec. 2.

An ambitious Rather was ready and waiting in 1981 when he replaced news legend Walter Cronkite.

Rather, in an interview Tuesday, said he hoped someone already at CBS News would get the job.

“Probably the best way I can help is to stay out of the way,” he said.