Everybody who is anybody in television news — with one glaring omission — showed up for last week’s twentieth-anniversary blowout for 48 Hours, which, after 60 Minutes, is CBS News’ most durable magazine program. On hand for the party in the twentieth-floor lounge at 230 Fifth Avenue were CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, CBS News president Sean McManus, 48 Hours executive producer Susan Zirinsky, former CBS president Sir Howard Stringer, and former news president Andrew Heyward.
Missing was Dan Rather.
The original anchor of 48 Hours — who, along with Stringer, got the show off the ground in 1986 with a highly rated pilot, “48 Hours on Crack Street,” and pushed the network suits to put it on the weekly schedule — wasn’t invited. In an awkward phone call before the celebration, Zirinsky explained to Rather that he couldn’t come under the circumstances.
The 76-year-old Rather, who had read about the party on the Internet, is, of course, suing the network for $70 million, alleging wrongful termination and a host of other abuses. He left CBS in 2006 after being forced out of his 24-year anchor job at CBS Evening News (along with fourteen years anchoring 48 Hours) amid a scandal involving allegedly forged documents used in Rather’s notorious pre-election 2004 60 Minutes report on President Bush’s National Guard service.
Zirinsky declined to comment. Reached this morning, Rather — who these days anchors Dan Rather Reports on Mark Cuban’s HDNet — would say only, “I’m very proud of the people who work at 48 Hours.” —Lloyd Grove