NEW YORK - CBS News anchorman Dan Rather will not go gently into that good night after his final broadcast. He will go naked instead. Rather, 73, announced this morning that he is joining the staff of Naked News, where he will serve as weatherman and AARP correspondent.
"This is great exposure for Dan and for us," said Naked News executive producer Buffy Nicolo. "He's a stand-up guy, and he brings a lot to the news-experience, an eye for a story, and the cutest dimple on his left buttock. We expect him to give our ratings a full-monty boost."
AARP's chief executive officer, William Novelli, also praised Rather's decision. "A lot of people who overstayed their welcome on the job identify with Dan. He's been the face of the news for many Americans of his generation. People trust him because he's not one of those cover-your-ass reporters."
Rather's decision to get out from behind the desk is not the stretch it might appear to be on the surface. Throughout his twenty-four-year tenure at CBS News, Rather was often naked from the waist down when he was on camera.
"That took a little getting used to at first, but Dan was proud of his credentials," said Connie Chung, whom Rather once called "a cute piece of sushi" during a national broadcast when he didn't realize his mike was still live. Chung, who is always clothed from the waist down, shared the anchor desk with Rather from 1993 to 1995 in a coupling widely viewed as a ratings disaster.
Although Rather will be most remembered for his liberal bias and his colorful speech-he once described a Michigan Republican primary as "tighter than Willie Nelson's headband"-his first love has always been hurricanes. He is a charter member of Storm Chasers; he has seen Twister more than a hundred times; and his boxer shorts, as he revealed during a Reporter's Notebook segment of the news last night, are emblazoned with the symbol for a hurricane. Indeed, it was Rather's coverage of Hurricane Carla in 1961, when he appeared to have an orgasm on camera, that launched his career.
"I have had a lifetime fascination with hurricanes," said Rather. "And whenever the wind blows-particularly when the wind blows strong-I want to go."
There are many critics who will tell you that Dan Rather blows, too, given his consistent dead-last finishes in the big-three anchor ratings, but don't expect that to stop Rather from doing what he loves best.
"Retire," said Rather, fingering his funnel-shaped tie clasp. "That's not going to happen. You can sooner expect a tall talking broccoli stick to offer to mow your lawn for free."
In other news, the three members of U2 who are not Bono have offered to trade their lead singer "even up" for World Bank president, James Wolfensohn.