Rather, 74, whose contract runs until late November, is working out the final details of his exit agreement, the sources say.
Money is not an issue, they say. Among the sticking points: Whether Rather will have access to his archival CBS material.
CBS issues its standard non-denial denial: "Dan is a 60 Minutes correspondent, and we don't comment on contractual matters." Rather declined to comment.
Anchor of CBS Evening News for a record 24 years until being forced out in March '05 by the Memogate scandal, Rather was fighting to stay at the network in some "meaningful" capacity. It was clear that the network wanted him gone.
Like virtually all CBS executives, network czar Les Moonves, once a Rather supporter, had distanced himself from the newsman. They had not had a real conversation for more than eight months, newsroom sources say.
Many inside CBS feel that Rather triggered his own demise by vigorously defending his flawed 60 Minutes II report in September '04 that questioned President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, even after the authenticity of the documents used in the piece could not be proved.
Rather later apologized to viewers, but his fate within CBS had been sealed. The only difference: It would take longer for him to leave. Unlike several of his coworkers in the scandal, Rather escaped the noose.
There's an awful lot of crocodile tears throughout the article. A lot of really insincere-sounding praise. The bottom line here is that Rather did this to himself. He and he alone is responsible for the ignominious end his career has come down to. He climbed into the toilet himself. It just took a little while for CBS to pull the flush lever.
UPDATE: This is actually quite funny. Rather gave an interview to The New York Times. He is thinking about blogging. He is also in talks with Mark Cuban to host an interview show on HDNet, the High Definition network Cuban helped form. But take a look at these items from the interview:
Among the places he had sought solace, he said on a recent afternoon, was in "Good Night, and Good Luck," George Clooney's homage to Edward R. Murrow and the CBS News of old, a film that Mr. Rather said he had seen five times in theaters, most recently alone.
Mr. Rather expressed some disappointment with Leslie Moonves, the president and chief executive of CBS. In late 2004, Mr. Rather announced he would step down as anchor in March 2005. In the interim, Mr. Moonves told a gathering of television critics in California that he hoped to blow up the program's "voice of God, single anchor" format. (After exploring the notion of an ensemble, CBS announced this spring that it was hiring Katie Couric as the program's sole anchor.)
Asked in the interview about Mr. Moonves's remarks, Mr. Rather said, "My problem with the 'voice of God' thing was that it was meant disrespectfully."
"They talk about wanting a break with the past," he added. "Look at the Murrow film. I don't want to break with that past." (Emphasis added)
Indulging in a bit of armchair psychoanalysis here, can you not see how Rather sees himself? He sees himself as a much beset hero. A giant among journalists laid low by corporate types.
Back to your self-inflicted swirly, Dan. You did this to yourself.