Dan Rather by John Filo/CBS Dan Rather by John Filo/CBS

During a Monday call to MSNBC's Morning Joe program, Dan Rather shared his qualified take on why CBS Evening News has yet to emerge from the ratings basement (where he left it upon his March 2005 exit from the anchor chair). "The mistake was trying to bring the Today show ethos to the Evening News and dumb it down/tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience," the veteran newsman said.

Rather called current anchor Katie Couric "a nice person," but said that trying to change networks and jobs in one fell swoop, as she famously and publicly did, "is always difficult."

UPDATE: Per TV Week, CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said at a Tuesday breakfast conference that he is "surprised at the vitriol directed at [Couric]," and accused Rather of taking a "cheap shot" with his "sexist" remarks. "Give [Katie] a break," Moonves urged the crowd.