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Schieffer to bid farewell to anchor job Thursday

Incoming CBS anchor Katie Couric to make guest appearance
/ Source: The Associated Press

Bob Schieffer, who led the “CBS Evening News” from the rocky departure of Dan Rather to the dawn of the Katie Couric era, will make his last appearance in the anchor chair Thursday.

Couric, who makes her much-hyped debut on Tuesday, will make a guest appearance on Schieffer’s send-off. (On Friday and Monday, Russ Mitchell will fill in.)

“It’s been a great adventure for me,” said Schieffer, who will stay on the program as a weekly commentator and political analyst. “I never thought I would have a chance to do this.”

Schieffer, 69, was named interim anchor after Rather departed amid controversy over a discredited story on President Bush’s military service.

“To be absolutely frank about it, we were in a really hard place when I came here,” Schieffer said Wednesday, explaining that part of his role was to have a calming affect on the newsroom.

Though Schieffer was expected to anchor the broadcast for just six weeks, his stay ended up lasting nearly 18 months, bringing a bright twilight to a long and respected career in TV news. Not only did Schieffer hold the fort, ratings increased.

Earlier this week, CBS said the “Evening News” has gained more than 600,000 viewers in the past year. It remains in third behind ABC’s “World News Tonight” and NBC’s top-rated “Nightly News,” but has narrowed the gap.

“Over these last 18 months, we’ve managed to get ourselves back in the game,” Schieffer said. “We’re now major players again.”

Schieffer, also the veteran host of “Face the Nation,” credits the ratings upturn to the broadcast’s team approach, which highlighted the reporting of correspondents Lara Logan, Lee Cowan and Byron Pitts, among others.

Schieffer expects to remain active in his continuing roles on the “CBS Evening News,” and is looking forward to a little less stress.

“For the first time in my life, I won’t have to feel responsible for getting scooped,” he said, laughing, then added: “I hope I can break a story or two along the way.”