Dan Rather announced Tuesday that he will step down as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News on March 9, 2005, 24 years after his first broadcast in that position.
Rather will continue to work full-time at CBS News as a correspondent for both editions of 60 MINUTES, as well as on other assignments for the Division.
"I have decided to leave the CBS Evening News on March 9, 2005," said Rather. "I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News. Along the way, I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue doing so in the years ahead.
"I have always said that I'd know when the time was right to step away from the anchor chair. This past summer, CBS and I began to discuss this matter in earnest--and we decided that the close of the election cycle would be an appropriate time. I have always been and remain a 'hard news' investigative reporter at heart. I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full-time."
Leslie Moonves, Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer, Viacom, and Chairman, CBS, said: "Dan's 24 years at the CBS EVENING NEWS is the longest run of any evening news anchor in history and is a singular achievement in broadcast journalism. He has been an eyewitness to the most important events for more than 40 years and played a crucial role in keeping the American public informed about those events and their larger significance. We congratulate him on all he has accomplished and look forward to the future."
Andrew Heyward, President, CBS News, who has worked closely with Rather since they both joined the CBS Evening News in March 1981-Rather as anchor and Heyward as a field producer-said: "Dan's dedication to his craft and his remarkable skills as a reporter are legendary. He has symbolized the CBS Evening News for nearly a quarter century. He'll continue to apply his talents to everything he does at CBS News. I look forward to saluting his extraordinary tenure in the Evening News chair early next year."
Since 1962, when Dan Rather first joined CBS News, he has handled some of the most challenging assignments in journalism. His day-to-day commitment to substantive, fair and accurate news reporting and his tough, active style have earned him a position of respect among his peers and the public.
This past presidential Election Day, another all-night marathon, was Rather's sixth in the anchor chair, continuing a long career of reporting on electoral politics. The recent extended campaign for the White House, which took Rather from the snows of New Hampshire to the parties' nominating conventions in Boston and New York, was the 11th he has covered for CBS News.
In recent years, the war on terrorism and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq have taken Rather to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The summer of 2004 saw Rather in Baghdad to cover the transfer of power to the Iraqi interim government and, earlier this year, his exclusive 60 Minutes II report revealing U.S. military abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison received worldwide attention. In February 2003, just two months before the invasion, Rather secured the most sought-after interview in the world: an exclusive one-on-one with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the first the Iraqi leader had conducted with an American journalist since 1991. Rather also reported from Afghanistan on the United States' effort to oust the Taliban in 2001 and 2002. He gained special notice for his live anchoring of CBS News' coverage of the September 11 attacks and his around-the-clock reporting in the days that followed. In the weeks after 9/11, Rather filed reports from Ground Zero and on the attacks' aftermath in New York and the nation for a variety of CBS News broadcasts.
In 2000 Rather traveled to Moscow to cover the Russian elections and then to Israel as the peace process there took a turn for the worse. Later in the year, he anchored the marathon Election Night 2000, which kept him on the air continuously from 6:00 PM on Tuesday, November 7, to 10:00 AM on Wednesday, Nov. 8. At the end of the year, Rather was the first anchor to get an exit interview with President Clinton as he prepared to leave the White House.
In addition to reporting on major events ranging from the Pope's visit to Cuba in January 1998, through the Monica Lewinsky scandal, to the impeachment of President Clinton by the House of Representatives in February 1999, Rather was on the scene in New Orleans when Hurricane George struck the Gulf Coast in September 1998.
As a full-time correspondent for 60 MINUTES II (now 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY), Rather secured an exclusive interview with President Clinton (March 31, 1999), the president's first sit-down interview following the Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment by the House. Rather was the first U.S. anchor on the scene in Belgrade in the middle of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia, reporting for several CBS News broadcasts, including the CBS EVENING NEWS.
In May 1997, Rather returned to his roots in two ways: he conducted a rare interview with playwright Horton Foote, a fellow native of Wharton, Texas, for CBS NEWS SUNDAY MORNING, and he launched a syndicated weekly newspaper column, "Part of Our World"-now "Dan Rather Reporting"-harking back to his early days in journalism as a print reporter. In June of that year, Rather traveled to Hong Kong to anchor CBS News' coverage of the colony's turnover to Chinese rule, after taking a train ride through the Chinese heartland of boomtowns and rice paddies that recalled his previous reports from China on events ranging from President Richard M. Nixon's historic visit in 1972 to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. On a more personal note, August 1997 saw the dedication of Rather's birthplace as part of the Wharton County Historical Museum.
Rather made two trips to the front lines in Bosnia in 1995, reporting on American peacekeeping troops in a region from which he had first reported a quarter-century earlier. October 1995 found Rather once more in the eye of a storm, reporting on Hurricane Opal as it approached the Florida shore-while two producers "anchored the anchor" off camera, clinging to his arms and legs during the ferociously high winds. In November of that year, he reported from Jerusalem on the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and was the only American anchor at Rabin's funeral. Also in 1995, he covered the 50th anniversary of V-E Day from London and made incisive contributions to four "CBS Reports" documentaries: "In the Killing Fields of America," "Victory in Japan" with retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, "The Religious Right" and "The Gulf War + 5."
Rather began 1994 with a trip to Eastern Europe for reports on the rise of neo-fascism in the former Soviet Bloc, on the civil war in the Georgian Republic and on President Clinton's first Russian summit. He spent most of April in South Africa, covering that country's first attempt at true democracy and interviewing candidates of all the major parties in the elections. He went to the Middle East just before the Palestinian Authority assumed control of portions of the West Bank and Gaza, and conducted interviews with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. His reporting from Haiti was perhaps Rather's most memorable of the year. The only network anchor on the scene before and during the crisis there, he obtained several exclusive interviews with Haiti's military leader, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. In 1990, he was the first American journalist to interview Saddam Hussein after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
In October 1994, Rather was honored by his alma mater, Sam Houston State University (formerly Sam Houston State Teachers College) in Huntsville, Texas, which named its journalism and communications building after him.
Rather is a prolific writer. In addition to The American Dream, published in 2001, he is the author of Deadlines and Datelines (1999), The Camera Never Blinks Twice: The Further Adventures of a Television Journalist (1994), I Remember (1991), The Camera Never Blinks (1977) and The Palace Guard (1974). He also abridged Mark Sullivan's landmark popular history, Our Times: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century. He continues to be a much-sought-after contributor to top newspapers and magazines and is a frequent speaker on journalistic issues.
Since the start of his career in 1950, Rather has been in the middle of history's defining moments. From November 22, 1963 in Dallas, when he kept the American people informed of the details of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to Oxford, Mississippi, to Tiananmen Square and the fall of the Berlin Wall, he has reported from the world's most important datelines. His reporting on the civil rights movement in the South, on the White House, the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Yugoslavia and the quest for peace in South Africa and the Middle East has showcased his combination of street smarts and astute analysis.
Rather has received virtually every honor in broadcast journalism, including numerous Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and citations from critical, scholarly, professional and charitable organizations. During his 42 years with CBS News, Rather has held many prestigious positions, ranging from co-editor of 60 MINUTES to anchor of "CBS Reports" and anchor of the weekend and weeknight editions of the CBS EVENING NEWS. He has served as CBS News bureau chief in London and Saigon and was the White House correspondent during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
Since March 9, 1981, Rather has served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS EVENING NEWS. He has been a correspondent for 60 MINUTES WEDNESDAY since its premiere (as 60 MINUTES II) in January 1999. He anchored and reported for 48 HOURS from its premiere on January 19, 1988, through September 2002. His regular contributions to CBS News Radio include "Dan Rather Reporting," a weekday broadcast of news and analysis, which has been presented on the CBS Radio Network since March 9, 1981.
Rather joined CBS News in 1962 as chief of its Southwest bureau in Dallas. In 1963, he was appointed chief of the Southern bureau in New Orleans, responsible for coverage of news events in the South, Southwest, Mexico and Central America. During that time, he reported on racial conflicts in the South and the crusade of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the death of President Kennedy.
Rather began his career in journalism in 1950 as an Associated Press reporter in Huntsville, Texas. Later, he was a reporter for United Press International (1950-52), KSAM Radio in Huntsville (1950-53), KTRH Radio in Houston and the Houston Chronicle (1954-55). He became news director of KTRH in 1956 and a reporter for KTRK-TV Houston in 1959. Prior to joining CBS News, Rather was news director at KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston.
Rather was born October 31, 1931 in Wharton, Texas. In 1953, he received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Sam Houston State Teachers College, where he spent the following year as a journalism instructor. He also attended the University of Houston and the South Texas School of Law.