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CBS News, Shutdown Plea, Syria Withdrawal: CEO Daily for January 7, 2019

Good morning.

It takes a long time to kill a great brand. But Eddie Lampert may have finally succeeded. Sears, the iconic company that was founded in 1887 and was once the largest retailer in America, is preparing to wind down, after Lampert’s last-ditch bid to buy several hundred Sears stores out of bankruptcy was rejected. If Sear does die, it will be the largest fatality yet in the retail apocalypse.

But it would be a mistake to chalk up Sears’ extinction to the shift to online shopping. Sears didn’t die of natural causes. Rather, it was exterminated by a Wall Street prodigy who thought his financial success would somehow extend to the difficult business of retailing. It didn’t. When I first met Lampert back in 2006, people were referring to him as the next Warren Buffett, because of his focus on long-term investing. Instead, he is now likely to be remembered for killing a brand once synonymous with America.

Lampert’s bid, submitted in late December, was designed to keep 425 stores open and preserve up to 50,000 jobs. But creditors apparently found it lacking. One problem: the fancy financing arrangements that Lampert has used to keep Sears afloat over the years are now the source of investigation, casting a shadow over his involvement in any new deal.

The Fortune video team put together a look at the iconic company’s 130-year history that you can view here. For the first forty years of its existence, it sold products via catalogues, starting with watches and jewelry and eventually covering the gamut, including ready-to-build houses. (I used to live in one.) It opened its first store in 1925, and became the largest retailer in the country. But it has been in steady decline since 2010.

More news below.

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

Top News

CBS News

David Rhodes is stepping down as CBS News president. His replacement at the scandal-struck operation is Susan Zirinsky, a veteran producer and the division’s first female chief. Rhodes: “The world we cover is changing, how we cover it is changing, and it’s the right time for me to make a change too.” Variety

Shutdown Plea

The Air Line Pilots Association has begged President Trump to end the government shutdown, warning that it threatened “the safety, security, and efficiency of our national airspace system.” The letter was cc’d to top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who are in a standoff against Trump over his demand for wall funding. Fox Business

Syria Withdrawal

President Trump’s immediate and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria may not be happening on those terms after all. White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said yesterday that the troops would only go once certain conditions are met, like Turkey not massacring the Syrian Kurdish fighters that the U.S. has been backing. Bolton also acknowledged that ISIS, which President Trump declared had been defeated, was in fact still present in Syria. Washington Post

Pure Alpha

Bridgewater’s Pure Alpha hedge fund surfed turbulent 2018 quite expertly, racking up a gain of almost 15%. The previous year, the flagship of Ray Dalio’s group only returned 1.6%. The average hedge fund lost 2% over the first 11 months of 2018. Financial Times

Around the Water Cooler

Apple Shot

Apple has taken what some are reading as a shot at Google and Amazon, by plastering an ad reading “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone” across the side of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The personal-data-munching Google and Amazon will have a big presence at the center, where the CES gadgetry expo is happening. CNBC

Golden Globes

The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody walked away with the best drama and best actor awards at the Golden Globes last night, beating the much more critically-favored A Star Is Born. Lady Gaga, who some expected to win best actress for her lead role in the latter film, was beaten out by Glenn Close, for her role in The Wife. CNBC

Gabon Coup

The army in Gabon appears to have attempted a coup today. There were reports of shots fired in the Central African country’s capital, Libreville, and soldiers seized the national radio station. President Ali Bongo is in Morocco—he suffered a stroke in October, and the army said his recent New Year’s address from that country “reinforced doubts about [his] ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office.” However, the mutineers are now reported to have been arrested. Reuters

Old Formats

U.S. music industry consumption figures show that CDs, as expected, are declining in popularity. Vinyl is also experiencing a resurgence, particularly for classic albums. Here’s something you may not expect, though: cassettes are also experiencing sales growth. New albums, this time. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.