Four CBS news staff members lost their jobs last week in the wake of an independent-panel report that found serious flaws in the journalism that led to a 60 Minutes Wednesday story about President Bush's National Guard service. One person who keeps his job is Dan Rather--at least until his previously announced retirement as Evening News anchor takes place in March (he'll continue to report for 60 Minutes). The denouement of CBS's journalistic failure has cast a new light on the search for Rather's successor, making it more likely, in the view of some, that the network will seek an outsider for the job. The latest handicapping:
Katie Couric A network source tells TIME the Today show co-anchor has been approached about the job. If she could be persuaded to jump, CBS would have to wait 16 months--when her NBC contract is up. But the network could name an old hand like Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer or Early Show host Harry Smith as a caretaker until then.
Ted Koppel The Nightline king's contract ends later this year, and CBS is rumored to be interested in him. But would the ABC vet want the job? At least he wouldn't have to worry about competing with Letterman.
John Roberts CBS's chief White House correspondent was the early favorite and is still in the mix. But CBS insiders say the longer the search drags on, the less likely he will get the job.
Scott Pelley The 60 Minutes Wednesday correspondent is an ace reporter, but he may have hurt himself with comments to the New YorkObserver that seemed to disparage Roberts.
Mika Brzezinski The CBS correspondent (and daughter of President Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski) is a dark-horse candidate, possibly as part of an anchor team.
Anderson Cooper The rising CNN star (who also works for 60 Minutes Wednesday) could be in the running, especially if the rumored CNN-CBS merger moves ahead. --By Sean Gregory