Walter Cronkite’s final contract with CBS stipulated that the legendary news anchor had to stop criticizing another CBS newsman, Dan Rather, in public, according to “Cronkite,” Douglas Brinkley’s new biography, the New York Post reports.
Cronkite, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, initially endorsed Rather as his successor when he was forced to retire at 65, which was CBS’s mandatory retirement age, the story says. But Cronkite became more and more bitter toward Rather, according to the book.
When Rather stormed off the set in 1987 after being told U.S. Open tennis coverage would eat into his evening newscast, Cronkite said he would have "fired" him immediately, the story says, citing the book.
“He wanted to destroy me. I didn’t know what to do. I kept wondering how to handle his venom. I decided I didn’t want to fight him. So I hunkered down in the fetal position and just took it," Rather says in "Cronkite," the article notes.
It’s not clear whether the two anchors ever patched up their problems, but when Cronkite signed a final 10-year deal with CBS, the network demanded that the older anchor stop criticizing Rather in public, the story says.