Who Killed CBS?
IN THIS SUMMARY
Boyer describes the beginning of the end of CBS News' reign as THE news network, focusing on the history and final three years of Richard Salant's 18-year tenure as president of CBS News, including the events leading up to the choice of his successor, Bill Leonard, in 1978. Leonard had been vice president of "soft news" (60 Minutes and documentaries) under Salant. He was promoted to act as interim president of CBS News only after William Small (vice president of "hard news," 1974-78), who was being groomed for and expected to fill Salant's position, proved to lack the neces-sary qualities to function as president of CBS News. The two main challenges Leonard faced as interim president of CBS News were finding a replacement for Cronkite, who had waited to retire until, after Salant's retirement, and finding his own successor. CBS News was ripe with talent, but NBC and, particularly, ABC were working hard to put together their own competitive news teams and overtake CBS in the ratings. The decision about Cronkite's replacement was critical. Dan Rather's agent skillfully maneuvered a 10-year, $22 million contract for Rather, despite the fact that Roger Mudd had previously been considered the most likely to succeed Cronkite.