(CBS) Dan Rather is anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News. He also is a correspondent for 60 Minutes II. 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. For Rather, 1998 began with the Pope's visit to Cuba in early January, an assignment which was cut short by a dramatic turn of events in Washington D.C., when news broke of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Rather flew to the nation's capital to cover the first few days of what would be a year-long story ending in February 1999 with the impeachment of President Clinton by the House of Representatives. With the Lewinsky scandal dominating headlines in 1998, Washington was a frequent dateline for Rather, who was also there to cover the State of the Union Address in late January. In September, Rather was on the scene in New Orleans when Hurricane Georges struck the Gulf Coast. This was followed in November by coverage of the mid-term elections which Rather anchored from New York, and which bore the mark of his now much-anticipated "Rather-isms." Rather also contributes reports to CBS News' 60 Minutes II, which premiered in January 1999. As a correspondent for the broadcast, Rather secured an exclusive interview with President Clinton on March 31, 1999. It was the president's first sit-down interview since the Lewinsky scandal and his own impeachment. Rather interviewed first lady Hillary Clinton in another exclusive interview on May 26, 1999, her first wide-ranging one ince January 1998.
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. While there, he interviewed Professor Mira Markovic, the wife of President Slobodan Milosovic and a political powerhouse in her own right. The interview was broadcast on 60 Minutes. In 1997, Rather's ongoing reporting on the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was highlighted by exclusive interviews with the brother and wife of accused accomplice Terry Nichols and McVeigh lawyer Stephen Jones. Rather's moving interview with a grieving Bill Cosby following the murder of his son, Ennis, made headlines around the world and helped focus national attention not only on the crime but on Ennis' contributions to special education. In May, 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," harking back to his early days in journalism as a print reporter.
Rather traveled to Hong Kong in June to anchor CBS News' coverage of the colony's turnover to Chinese rule. He also made another trip to China, traveling by train deep into the heartland of boomtowns and rice paddies and recalling 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. He was again anchoring from overseas in September, covering the funerals of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa. On a more personal note, August saw the dedication of Rather's birthplace as part of the Wharton County Historical Museum. In 1996, the year that marked the 15th anniversary of his tenure as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, Rather covered his 11th presidential campaign. He also traveled to Moscow to report on the Russian elections.
In 1995, Rather made two trips to the front lines in Bosnia, reporting on American peacekeeping troops. He first began reporting from the region a quarter-century ago. There he had unparalleled access to the political and military leaders of this bloody struggle, as well as the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. October 1995 found Rather literally once more in the eye of the storm, reporting on Hurricane Opal as it approached the Florida shore while two producers "anchored the anchor," clinging to his arms and legs during the ferociously high winds.
He reported on the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from Jerusalem and was the only American anchor on site at Rabin's funeral in November. Also in 1995, he covered the 50th anniversary of V-E Day from London, then followed President Bill linton to Russia to cover the Moscow summit. He 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. "He also anchored and contributed reports to all three of the CBS News broadcasts on the Smithsonian Institution, at one point dropping miles beneath the surface of the sea to study the ocean floor.
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 Palestinians moved into Gaza and the West Bank 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, he was in the thick of the action, obtaining several exclusive interviews with Haiti's military leader, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras.
He has interviewed every United States president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton and virtually every major international leader of the past 30 years. 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 in Huntsville, Texas, which named its journalism and communications building after him. Rather's most recent book is Deadlines & Datelines (1999), a collection of essays. He also has published an abridgment of Mark Sullivan's landmark popular history, Our Times: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century. In addition, he is the author of 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). In addition to his weekly newspaper column, he continues to be a much-sought-after contributor to many of the top newspapers and magazines in the country and speaks out frequently on journalistic ethics.
Since the start of his career in 1950, Rather has been in the middle of the world's defining moments. From Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, when Rather worked around the clock to keep the American people informed of the details of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, to Beijing, Bosnia, Haiti and Hong Kong more than two decades later, he has covered most of the world's major news stories. His reporting on the civil rights movement in the South, 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.
He has received virtually every honor in broadcast journalism, including numerous Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and citations from critical, scholarly, professional and charitable organizations. He is regularly cited as "best anchor" in opinion surveys. During his 35 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 also anchored and reported for 48 Hours since its premiere on Jan. 19, 1988. 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. On Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, he broke the news of the death of President John F. 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 for KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston. 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.
Dan Rather signs off 'CBS Evening News'
To the end of his career as CBS News anchor, Dan Rather stared down his critics.
Rather ended his final broadcast at the "CBS Evening News" on Wednesday with the message he was once ridiculed for offering: "courage."
The 73-year-old Texan has covered a breathtaking array of stories in more than 40 years at CBS, from the Kennedy assassination to the tsunami, and was the network's most visible face for the past 24 years. He replaced Walter Cronkite on the evening news on March 9, 1981.
Bob Schieffer is Rather's temporary replacement starting Thursday. CBS expects to name a permanent anchor team to succeed Rather in the coming months.
He was the second of the three men who dominated network news for more than two decades to step down in four months. NBC's Tom Brokaw exited in November, leaving ABC's Peter Jennings remaining at "World News Tonight."
His voice slightly hoarse, Rather was all business for the first 20 minutes of Wednesday's broadcast. He didn't mention the special day, and neither did correspondents John Roberts or Anthony Mason when they threw stories back to him.
Then Rather looked back on what he called the most important story of his career -- the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He opened the news that evening by saying, "you will remember this day as long as you live."
He thanked viewers at the end of Wednesday's newscast, then mentioned Sept. 11 survivors, tsunami survivors, the American military, the oppressed, the sick and fellow journalists in dangerous places.
"And, to each of you," he said. "Courage."
He seemed to savor each word of his signoff: "For the `CBS Evening News,' Dan Rather reporting. Good night."
For a week in September 1986, Rather ended the news with the word "courage." He gave it up after being mocked for it, and the incident joined the list of oddities that bedeviled the tightly-wound newsman throughout his career.
Its use two decades later seemed almost an act of defiance for a man who has taken some body blows recently: consistent and distant third-place showings in the rankings, public criticism from predecessor Cronkite and the exultation of critics who have long accused him of a bias against Republicans. He drew much of the public blame for last fall's discredited story about President Bush's military service.
Rather addressed some of those critics during Wednesday's prime-time look back on his career.
"One way a reporter in this country should be judged is how often, how well he or she stands up to the pressure to intimidate," he said. "Be respectful, be polite, but ask the question. Just ask the damn question. What kind of reporter are you if you don't press the question?"
Rather wants most to be remembered as a reporter and, even after 24 years as anchor, never seemed to fully embrace that role.
He said he's not retiring, but changing jobs. He will be a reporter for CBS's "60 Minutes" broadcasts.
"I have my weaknesses," he said in the prime-time special. "I've made my mistakes. But the one mistake I've tried hard not to make is to say, OK, I know which way the wind is blowing and I'm going to tilt my reporting to fit that.
"Ain't gonna do it," he said. "Haven't. Don't. Won't."
While his critics seemed to dominate the end stages of his anchor career, Rather regularly had more than 7 million viewers who watched him each night.
Marian MacNeil of Windsor, Calif., said she watched Rather regularly and admired him.
"I feel terrible the way he's being treated now," MacNeil said. "I think they're smearing a good reputation and overshadowing his 50 years. I hope he's able to rise above this."
Both Jennings and Williams paid tribute to Rather at the end of their broadcasts. Williams called him a "very tough competitor" and a friend of nearly 20 years.
On "World News Tonight," Jennings noted the National Guard story and said ABC took no pleasure in the pain it caused its competitor.
"For many of us, being a reporter turned out to be a calling," Jennings said. "It is an identity for Dan. He would be the first to reflect -- as all serious reporters do -- that this opportunity to work on behalf of the public interest has been an unusual privilege.
"Dan and I are also friends," he said. "It goes without saying that we wish him nothing but the best."
When the lights went down at CBS' broadcast center on Manhattan's West Side, CBS News President Andrew Heyward and correspondents Ed Bradley, Vicky Mabrey, Jim Axelrod and Rita Braver offered toasts, a spokeswoman said.
Rather drank from a glass of "Wild Turkey" bourbon.
Cronkite: Rather Stayed Too Long in Job
Former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite suggested Monday afternoon that Dan Rather stayed in the chair too long.
Cronkite, whom Rather replaced 24 years ago Wednesday, told CNN's "Wolf Blitzer Reports" in an interview televised Monday afternoon that Bob Schieffer, who will replace Rather on an interim basis, should have been anchor sooner.
"He is, to my mind, the man who, quite frankly, although Dan did a fine job, I would have liked to have seen in there a long time ago," Cronkite said. "He would have ... given the others a real run for their money."
Cronkite said it was "quite a tribute to him" that CBS kept Rather in the job even though he had been mired in third place in the ratings for years.
Meanwhile, another television star -- real estate magnate Donald Trump -- wondered the same thing on "Fox News Sunday."
"I've never understood how he stays in position so long," Trump said of Rather. "How does this guy stay in position when he always has the lowest ratings?"
Trump told Chris Wallace that he wasn't a fan of Rather ever since CBS did what he called an unfavorable report on him.
"I would have fired him a long time ago," Trump said. Wallace asked him how, to which Trump responded: "I would have said, 'Dan, you're fired."'
Dan Rather pledges loyalty to CBS
Despite the stink of Memogate, the nasty shots from colleagues, and the indignity of relinquishing his anchor chair a year before he had planned, Dan Rather still pledges allegiance to CBS.
"For better or worse, I love this place and the people in it," he says in an interview. "I am loyal to it, without apology. I like everybody here, and I mean EVERYBODY. Even the ones who don't think much of me. ...
"I'll stand with them till hell freezes over, then cut through the ice."
Rather, 73, ends his unprecedented 24-year run as anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News" on Wednesday. Friend and fellow Texan Bob Schieffer, 68, takes over the third-place newscast Thursday on an interim basis.
"I want to italicize, underscore, put in all capital letters, that I am not retiring. I am changing jobs," says Rather, who joins "60 Minutes Wednesday" as full-time correspondent.
Impeccably dressed, as usual, in a crisp white shirt and navy pinstripe suit (both custom-made), Rather sits stiffly in his dimly lit office overlooking the newsroom, known within CBS as the fishbowl.
His mother's family Bible, dating from the 1880s, lies on a coffee table. An ancient manual typewriter sits at his desk, a reminder of his wire-service roots.
Behind him is a framed Scottish proverb:
"I am wounded, but I am not slain. I shall lay me down and bleed a while, then I shall rise and fight again.
Rather has been wounded by outsiders throughout his 43 years at CBS, but his own coworkers hurt him last week.
In a devastating profile by Ken Auletta in the March 7 issue of the New Yorker, CBS's Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt - all legends in their 80s - said that Rather was stiff and hard to watch and that they preferred the competition.
Rather won't return fire. "Nobody's skin is so thick that the occasional point of the spear doesn't get to you. Of course it hurts, but not that much."
Wallace now regrets his statements and has apologized to Rather. "I admire Dan," he says in an interview. "He's my friend. He's down. I feel hateful. He's the last guy in the world I would want to hurt."
In another slight, Rather was not given the courtesy of a heads-up from management about Schieffer's replacing him. He found out in a newspaper article Feb. 3.
"I didn't say anything to anybody (in management), but I was disappointed," Rather says.
Linda Mason, CBS's senior vice president, standards and special projects, and a longtime Rather ally, says it resulted from "a misunderstanding." She's sorry about it.
"Dan's taken his responsibility to CBS News very seriously, and I thought it was wrong for CBS News not to share with him an announcement that obviously affects him deeply."
It's no secret that Rather wanted his finale to be March 9, 2006 - exactly 25 years after he succeeded Cronkite.
But CBS pressured Rather in the fall to move up the date when its appointed independent panel began investigating the memo scandal, several high-ranking network executives say.
Mason has no comment.
A CBS News producer was fired and three others asked to resign following Rather's discredited report on "60 Minutes Wednesday" on Sept. 8 that President Bush had received preferential treatment in his service in the Texas Air National Guard.
After defending the story for almost two weeks, Rather said on the air that CBS couldn't prove the authenticity of documents in the story, and he apologized. On Nov. 23, he announced his March swan song.
In its blistering 224-page report, released Jan. 10, the panel censured CBS for sloppy procedures and "rigid and blind" defense of the piece.
Among other findings, however, the panel could not "definitely conclude" whether the documents were authentic and said the story was not a result of political bias.
While the report criticized Rather's cursory involvement in preparing the story, he escaped CBS's guillotine because he had apologized and already had agreed to step down as anchor.
"These have not been ideal days for CBS," Rather says softly. "I have been, and remain, concerned that four good people lost their jobs here."
Producer Mary Mapes was fired. Asked to resign were CBS News senior vice president Betsy West, "60 Minutes Wednesday" executive producer Josh Howard, and his top deputy, Mary Murphy. Only Howard remains.
Rather says he testified twice before the panel for a total of more than 11 hours.
"They found me guilty of trusting the people I work with and standing by them. They're right. I plead guilty."
Does he still believe the documents are authentic? "I'm open to additional proof, as it comes along. ... The report is the final word on this."
Many inside CBS continue to feel that Rather and CBS News president Andrew Heyward got off too lightly. That may cause problems when Rather moves across West 57th Street to "60 Minutes Wednesday," where he already has an office.
If, as many expect, struggling "60 Minutes Wednesday" is not renewed in May, Rather says his contract - an estimated $7 million-a-year deal than runs through November 2006 - stipulates that he go to "60 Minutes."
Don't expect any welcoming parties for Rather at "60 Minutes," where he was a correspondent from 1975 to 1981.
More than a few "60 Minutes" staffers resent the anchor, feeling that Memogate stained the credibility of the whole franchise.
Moreover, there are long-simmering personality conflicts between several correspondents and Rather, whom some perceive as a diva.
"There will be volcanic rumblings, at first, but they'll never erupt," says Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of CBS's "48 Hours Mystery" and a 30-year Rather pal. "He has the force of personality and graciousness to make it work."
No matter what happens, the scandal has hit where it hurts most - his legacy.
"It's an unfortunate coda at the end of a terrific career," says Alex Jones, director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. "It will be in the first paragraph of his obituary."
Had the scandal occurred when Rather was 40, says CBS's Schieffer, "he'd have plenty of time to move right on by it." Still, "he'll be remembered as the single best field reporter in America of his time."
As a CBS correspondent in Dallas in November 1963, Rather hustled a career-making scoop by reporting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 17 minutes before it was officially confirmed.
During his anchor tenure, Rather set a new standard with his field reporting. He has covered every major news event from the civil-rights movement to Vietnam to Watergate to the Iraq war to the tsunami. Despite his impressive resume, he insists, perhaps disingenuously, that he doesn't "have a legacy.
"A personal legacy is not very important. ... I'm a reporter who got lucky. (Roman emperor) Marcus Aurelius will remind you that even the most powerful people, who lead empires, fool themselves if they think they're going to leave anything that lasts for very long.
"However it may appear from the outside, it's never been about me. It's about this place, CBS News, and the "Evening News."
Joe Angotti, broadcast chair at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and a former NBC News executive, disagrees.
"Dan frequently gives the impression, whether intentional or not, that HE'S the story rather than reporting the story."
To that end, Rather has long been accused of liberal bias, a charge he vigorously denies.
"If you're a passionate and, yes, if necessary, aggressively independent reporter, you're going to handle hot stuff. When you handle hot material, you're going to catch flak."
Flak-wise, Gunga Dan has created a Rather-bashing cottage industry for conservatives.
The latest book, Mike Walker's "Rather Dumb: A Top Tabloid Reporter Tells CBS How to Do News," is due out Tuesday. RatherBiased.com, launched in 2000, averages up to 50,000 hits a day, according to cofounder Matthew Sheffield.
It doesn't help that Rather is a magnet for weird mishaps. "He's inherently a little eccentric," says Northwestern's Angotti, a fan of his reporting skills. "I've never understood why his delivery is so unnaturally dramatic."
To Harvard's Jones, Rather's emotionalism is part of his strength and appeal.
"It's genuine. It's naked. ... Being an anchor, in a way, is being an actor. Dan is himself, corny Texas aphorisms and all."
Rather's new role, in Mason's words, will be as "one of the elder statesmen of CBS News. He'll be a leader, but not necessarily the only leader. I think he'll continue to have a lot of clout."
Not everyone at CBS shares Mason's optimism. "I think management would be very happy if Dan resigned," says a senior CBS News correspondent. "He's a problem they don't need."
Resign? Like any true warrior, Rather will never surrender.
"No matter how big storms are, they don't last," he says. "After every rain, sometimes a hard rain, there could be a rainbow.
"I'm looking for the rainbow."
CBS Plans Prime-time Sendoff for Rather
CBS will look back at the career of news anchor Dan Rather with a prime-time special on the night he steps down from the "CBS Evening News."
"Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers" is set to air at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 9. The one-hour special will retrace the arc of Rather's career as a newsman, from his days as a young reporter to his coverage of the Watergate-era White House and 24 years as anchor of CBS' nightly newscast.
It will also include previously unseen footage from the archives of CBS News.
Rather's final "Evening News" broadcast will also be March 9, 24 years to the day after he took over for Walter Cronkite. Bob Schieffer will take over as interim anchor the next night while CBS, stuck in third place in the nightly news ratings, considers changes in how its presents its newscast.
Rather announced late last year that he would be leaving the "CBS Evening News." The decision came a couple of months after CBS News was pilloried for using fake documents to support a "60 Minutes Wednesday" story, which Rather reported, about President Bush's National Guard service.
An independent review sharply criticized some of the network's newsgathering practices and called for the resignations of four producers and executives. Three of them have so far refused to do so.
CBS's Schieffer to Replace Rather on Interim Basis
Bob Schieffer, CBS News' chief Washington correspondent, will replace Dan Rather on an interim basis as anchor of the network's evening news when Rather retires in March, CBS said on Wednesday.
Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, said Schieffer, moderator of the "Face the Nation" program since 1991, will anchor the newscast until the network revamps its evening news format.
In a bid to draw younger viewers to the network news program, CBS, a unit of Viacom Inc., has said it is considering replacing Rather with multiple anchors in an ensemble format.
Schieffer will start on March 10, a day after Rather retires 24 years to the day after he replaced Walter Cronkite as anchor.
CBS Evening News is the third ranked of the big three network shows. Last month, a blue-ribbon independent panel savaged its handling of a controversial story about President Bush's military service on its "60 Minutes II" program.
Rather's decision to retire as anchor came weeks after he presented that report, which was based on now discredited documents. A panel headed by former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press chief Louis Boccardi criticized CBS for its "myopic zeal" in pursuing the story."
CBS fired four news executives last month for their role in the airing of the story.
Schieffer has worked for CBS for more than 30 years and moderated the third and final debate of the 2004 presidential campaign.
It Could Take A Village To Replace Dan Rather
Network May Use Multi-Anchor Format
The head of CBS said no decision's been made about the new face, or faces, of the "CBS Evening News" once Dan Rather steps down from anchoring in March.
Leslie Moonves said one of the possibilities is not to have one guy sitting in a chair "preaching from the mountain." Instead there could be an ensemble feel, similar to "The Early Show."
Moonves said he thinks many young viewers are turned off by one single person delivering the news, which he called a "voice of God" type of format.
Instead, he said the network will likely turn to a multi-anchor -- perhaps even a multi-city -- set-up. He said that format might appeal to people who get their news in bits and pieces, via cable and the Internet. But Moonves said he's still open to all possibilities.
Moonves won't talk about possibly bringing Katie Couric or Jon Stewart into the mix. All he would say is that the Evening News will wind up being "a very different show than the show that's on the air now."
The CBS executive is discussing his search for the first time since Rather said he'd be stepping down in late November.
Moonves did say that recent turmoil at CBS News is encouraging him to do something dramatic. Three network executives and a producer were fired last week over a controversial story about President George W. Bush's military service.
CBS May Replace Rather with Anchor Team
CBS, in a bid to lure younger viewers and boost ratings, may drop "the voice of God" single anchor format when its longtime anchorman Dan Rather leaves in March, the network's head said on Tuesday.
Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS and co-president of its parent company Viacom Inc., told a meeting of television writers he was considering having several people anchor the program in an ensemble format or have the show broadcast from different cities.
He said he may also opt for a "special person" high profile anchor but refused comment on reports that he had spoken to Katie Couric, the co-host of NBC's "Today" show.
He also refused comment on whether he was trying to enlist comedian Jon Stewart, the host of "The Daily Show," a popular newscast parody on cable TV, as a commentator.
"Jon Stewart is part of our company (Viacom). We speak to him regularly about all sorts of different things," he said.
Moonves told the television writers, "We're not going to keep doing what we're doing. Come later this year sometime ... there's going to be a very different show on air than the show that's on the air now."
He added, "There are a lot of alternatives for us to deal with. It's very possible it might not be the voice of God single anchor that has been in existence for so many years, that it might be time to change it up and do something different."
He said a large number of Americans 30 years of age and younger were getting their news from the Internet rather than the evening news, adding, "One of the things we're looking at is how do we make it younger, more relevant, something that younger people can relate to as opposed to that guy preaching from the mountaintop."
Dan Rather says CBS can overcome
Veteran anchorman Dan Rather sent a memo to his CBS News colleagues Tuesday calling for "a renewed dedication to journalism of the highest quality."
Rather said in that way the network can overcome the negative fallout from a report by an independent panel highly critical of a "60 Minutes Wednesday" segment on President Bush's National Guard service.
"I have been here through good times and not so good times. I have seen us overcome adversity before," Rather wrote in his first public comments since the report was released Monday.
"I am convinced we can do so again. That must be our focus and priority."
"Lest anyone have any doubt, I have read the report, I take it seriously, and I shall keep its lessons well in mind," Rather said.
Rather returned to the anchor chair of the "CBS Evening News" Tuesday, after being absent Monday.
But he made no reference to the report or the Bush Guard story.
CBS made public Monday a scathing 234-page report by an independent panel commissioned by the network to investigate the September 8 report on Bush's Guard service, which was based on documents the network later conceded could not be authenticated.
Written by former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and retired Associated Press chief Louis Boccardi, who led the 10-member panel, the report concluded that the segment had "considerable and fundamental deficiencies."
It said competitive pressure to break the story in the heat of the presidential campaign prevented CBS News from thoroughly vetting the documents. (Full story)
In the wake of the report, the producer of the segment, Mary Mapes, was fired, and three other executives were asked to resign.
But Rather -- who presented the story, vociferously defended it, and came under considerable fire from Bush supporters after it aired -- was not disciplined.
CBS President Les Moonves said Rather, who had already announced that he would leave the anchor chair in March, would not be punished because he had been only peripherally involved in producing the report and had relied on Mapes' assurances about the authenticity of the documents.
"His biggest sin was to trust a producer whom he'd worked with very successfully in the past," Moonves said.
He said Rather's decision to step down from the anchor chair was his own and was initiated before the Bush Guard segment aired.
Responding to Moonves, Mapes released a statement Monday insisting that the story was neither false nor misleading and accusing the network chief of "vitriolic scapegoating" motivated "by corporate and political considerations."
In his memo to the CBS News staff, Rather said the panel's report was "a necessary process to deal with a difficult issue, at the end of which four good people have lost their jobs."
"My strongest reaction is one of sadness and concern for those individuals whom I know and with whom I have worked," he wrote.
"It would be a shame if we let this matter, troubling as it is, obscure their dedication and good work over the years.
"Yet good can come from this process if CBS News, and the hundreds of able professionals who labor every day to fill an essential public service in an open society, emerge with a renewed dedication to journalism of the highest quality.
"We should take seriously the admonition of the report's authors to do our job well and carefully, but also their parallel admonition not be be afraid to cover important and controversial issues."
In the segment in question, which aired September 8 on the "60 Minutes Wednesday" program, Rather reported allegations that Bush used his family connections to get into the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War era.
The story said that once Bush was in the Guard, he failed to fulfill his obligations and ignored a direct order to get a required physical.
Included in the story were four memos purportedly written by Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, Bush's squadron commander, in which he complained about Bush's conduct and said he was being pressured to "sugar coat" the future president's evaluations. Killian died in 1984.
The legitimacy of the documents came into question almost immediately after they became public.
After defending the report for 12 days, CBS News eventually admitted it could not vouch for the authenticity of the memos.
It disclosed that they were obtained from Burkett, a retired Texas National Guard officer and longtime Bush critic.
Rather apologized on the air.
Dan Rather saves job, but his reputation takes the heat
As his anchor career nears its end in March, Dan Rather's reputation as a hard-charging news reporter took some damaging blows from the independent panel that probed CBS's discredited story on President Bush's National Guard service.
Three CBS News executives and the producer of last September's "60 Minutes Wednesday" report were fired Monday by CBS chief Leslie Moonves for rushing the story to air and then blindly defending it.
Rather was portrayed by the panel retired Associated Press chief executive officer Louis D. Boccardi and former GOP Attorney General Dick Thornburgh as "pushed to the limit" by coverage of the Republican National Convenion and Hurricane Frances as final reporting on the story was done.
"He's had a distingusihed television news career, he's one of the largest figures in this industry and this event doesn't erase the other things that he has accomplished," Boccardi said Tuesday in an interview on CBS' "The Early Show."
The veteran anchorman did not appear to have participated in any of the vetting sessions or even seen the story before it aired, Boccardi and Thornburgh found.
"The panel has found that his unwillingness to consider that CBS News and his colleague were in the wrong was a mistake, and that the broadcast would have benefited from a more direct involvement on Rather's part," Moonves said in a statement.
Given Rather's voluntary retirement as anchor, a decision that Rather said was unrelated to the National Guard story, Moonves said he decided not to discipline him.
Rather will move then to "60 Minutes," where Moonves said he will have "more time to concentrate on his reporting."
Rather did not anchor the "CBS Evening News" on Monday, after traveling back from Thailand over the weekend. An aide said he was reading the report and did not have an immediate comment.
It had to have been a particularly painful moment for a man who regards as one of his proudest legacies that he remained a reporter as well as a newsreader in a quarter-century at the anchor desk. He frequently traveled to the sites of major stories, including tsunami-devastated Asia.
Fired were Mary Mapes, the story's producer; Josh Howard, executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday"; Howard's top deputy, Mary Murphy; and CBS News senior vice president Betsy West.
Boccardi and Thornburgh's 224-page report catalogued a long series of missteps, essentially saying the report was aired too soon under competitive pressure without being thoroughly checked out. Four months after the report was aired, the panel still couldn't say conclusively whether memos allegedly disparaging Bush's service were real or fake.
"If these experienced vetters knew everything that we know about the circumstances, the authentication, they wouldn't have let the program go on the air," Boccardi said in his interview Tuesday.
After compounding its errors by defending the initial report without looking into it further, CBS apologized 12 days later. But the panel found fault with Rather's Sept. 20 apology, saying it placed too much of the blame on the source of the memos and not enough on CBS.
Rather told the panel that he did not think an apology was appropriate, but did it because he was a "team player." Rather also told Boccardi and Thornburgh that he still believes the content of the documents is true.
"It is clear that Rather's joining in the apology given his role as the correspondent on the segment and his status as CBS News' most visible presence was critical to its acceptance," the report said. "The panel finds his comments disavowing the apology to be troubling."
The only glimmer of good news for CBS and Rather long the target of conservative critics is that the panel said it had found no evidence of political bias. But it said it was inappropriate for Mapes to have contacted the Kerry campaign at the behest of her source.
"We can't prove that Mapes or Dan Rather did this thing in order to hurt President Bush," Boccardi said. "If you can't prove it and maybe in another way the lesson of the Sept. 8 report is, don't say it."
As predicted by Thornburgh, however, that conclusion did not quiet political criticism of CBS News.
"Such error layered upon error can only happen when there is a rigid political orthodoxy that not only does not encourage dissent, it does not even recognized that dissent might exist," said Michael Paranzino, founder of a Web log encouraging a boycott of CBS.
Along with Rather, CBS News President Andrew Heyward emerged from the independent review with no discipline from Moonves.
Rich Hanley, director of graduate programs at Quinnipiac University's School of Communications, said the failure to hold Heyward and Rather accountable for these mistake is "astonishing."
But Moonves, in an interview, said it was not Heyward's job to vet individual sources or material.
"Andrew gave explicit directions that just weren't carried out, about not stampeding the project on the air, verifying every syllable … and making sure everything was buttoned down, and it just didn't happen," Moonves said.
"On that basis, I find Andrew's sin was trusting his lieutenants too much," he said.
Mapes, in a statement, said she was shocked by Moonves' "vitriolic scapegoating." She said the decision to air the story when it did was made by her superiors, including Heyward, and not by her.
CBS Fires 4 Over False Bush Report
CBS News fired four employees on January 10, 2005 in the wake of an independent panel report that found a 'myopic zeal' led the network to disregard basic journalism principles when it aired a faulty story about President George W. Bush (news - web sites)'s military service record. 60 Minutes Wednesday executive producer Josh Howard (R), Senior Vice President Betsy West (C), and senior broadcast producer Mary Murphy (L) were asked to resign while Mary Mapes, the producer of the story, has been terminated according to the network.
"If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me," she said.
No succession plan for Dan Rather
With Dan Rather announcing on Tuesday that he plans to step down as anchor of "CBS Evening News" after 24 years, speculation about his replacement has kicked into high gear. Insiders say that chief White House correspondent John Roberts and "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley are on a short list, with the polished, anchor-chair comfortable Roberts the favorite.
The announcement about Rather's retirement had no word about a replacement for what is one of three top jobs in TV journalism. While it will be the second network anchor slot open in four months -- after 20-plus years of Rather, Brokaw and Jennings -- it's the only one without a clear path for succession.
When the 64-year-old Brokaw announced 18 months ago that he would leave Dec. 1, 2004, NBC News stepped up and immediately announced Brian Williams as the anchor-in-waiting for the "NBC Nightly News." Ever since then, Williams has been balancing high-visibility reporting assignments and a heavy pace of public appearances in advance of his ascension. CBS News president Andrew Heyward said Tuesday night that it was by design.
"Today is Dan's day. Dan made this announcement, he decided on the timing," Heyward said. "This (four-month period) allows us time to effect an orderly transition." Heyward declined comment about possible candidates. "We will look outside and inside . . . for the best person," he said.
Sandy Socolow, who was Walter Cronkite's executive producer at the "CBS Evening News" and served for a year in the same post with Rather, said the announcement of Rather's succession was announced on Valentine's Day 1980. "People forget that Rather's succession was announced a year before he actually took over," Socolow said.
It's not the way that CBS would have wanted it. The reason is that there's obviously no candidate for succession," said Robert Zelnick, former ABC News correspondent and chairman of the journalism department at Boston University. "John Roberts and Scott Pelley are both talented, good journalists, but you don't see either one of them as the inevitable successor to Rather nor is there anyone in mind that is the inevitable successor."
Zelnick said that some network beats are better than others in leading to anchor positions, including the White House and perhaps Capitol Hill. But there are other factors as well.
"You're pretty well aware of who's where in the pecking order at the network, and it's not the type of thing you jockey for," Zelnick said. "It's more like being tapped." Deborah Potter, a former CBS and CNN correspondent who now runs the NewsLab, expressed surprise that there was no succession plan. "Walter Cronkite didn't just up and say he was going to leave and there was no succession plan," Potter said. "In the past, the succession was certainly figured out before the Big Guy left."
That was certainly the case when Cronkite retired, with Rather famously -- and controversially -- besting the smooth, urbane Roger Mudd. Mudd was so peeved about being denied the anchor's chair that he left the network, later to be paired unsuccessfully with NBC's Tom Brokaw before Brokaw became a solo act on "NBC Nightly News." Whether that will happen with Roberts or Pelley or an unnamed contender remains to be seen.
Speaking in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon, Brokaw said he understood what the pressures were on Williams and Rather's eventual successor. He said that there will always be speculation in the press and he advised his successors not to read any of it. "Give Brian a fair chance at doing this job for more than 20 minutes and then make judgments about whether or not the broadcast is successful or he is," Brokaw said. "And I have every confidence that he will be successful and the broadcast will be, too."
And while the network news anchor job is no doubt weaker than it was two decades ago, the Big Three still reach 30 million viewers every weeknight. And that's nothing to sneeze at, analysts say. "It's still probably one of the most prestigious jobs in the industry," said Brad Adgate, senior vp research at Horizon Media in New York. "CBS News has built a reputation for broadcast news. It's the network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite and now Dan Rather. There's certainly a lot of people who very much like that position despite the ratings erosion."
In any event, Zelnick said Rather's successor will not have the kind of impact that network news anchors have had in the past. "There's not ever going to be another Walter Cronkite at the network because there's not ever going to be another network that enjoyed the pre-eminence of CBS News in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s," he said.
Dan Rather's 24 years at the ''CBS Evening News'' will end in March 2005
Dan Rather announced today he will step down as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" on March 9 — 24 years to the day after his first broadcast as the network's anchor.
Rather will stay with CBS News, working full time as a correspondent for both editions of "60 Minutes," and taking on other assignments as well.
"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," Rather said. "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."
He and the network began discussing his future during the summer, he said, adding that he looks forward to getting back to working as an investigative reporter full time. "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," Leslie Moonves, CBS chairman and co-president and co-chief operating officer of CBS parent Viacom said in a statement.
"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," he said. "We congratulate him on all he has accomplished and look forward to the future."
Rather, 73, worked his first broadcast as anchor of "CBS Evening News" on March 9, 1981, when he took over from broadcasting legend Walter Cronkite, and has been with the network since 1962. In addition to his work in television, Rather has written numerous books, including, most recently, "The American Dream," which was published in 2001.
Before joining CBS in 1962, Rather worked as a reporter for The Associated Press and then for United Press International in his native Texas. At the same time, he got into broadcasting, working for radio and television stations in Texas throughout the 1950s. His voice, lightly inflected with a Texas accent, and his homespun manner brought him success as an anchor, but over the years he has also found himself the center of controversy.
The announcement that he will step down comes months after he and CBS News came under fire for a report on "60 Minutes II" that questioned President George W. Bush's service in the Texas National Guard. The report, which aired Sept. 8 during the heated presidential campaign, was based on memos that cast doubt on Bush's service Immediately after the report aired, critics pointed to indications the documents had been forged. After initially defending the report, Rather said CBS could not prove the authenticity of the documents and made an on-air apology to viewers.
In 2001, Rather apologized for attending a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Austin, Texas, calling it a "serious mistake." He said at the time that he knew it was a political event but was unaware it was a fund-raiser until he got there. "No one believes more strongly in CBS News standards than I do, and I have let those standards down," Rather said in a statement at the time.
He also became the butt of jokes and inspired a song by the rock group R.E.M., when, in 1986, he said that a man stopped him as he was walking home in Manhattan and shouted "Kenneth, what's the frequency?" before beating him up. Rather is the second of the three network anchors this year to announce they would leave the post. Tom Brokaw, 64, anchor of NBC's "Nightly News" announced in June that he would step down Dec. 1.
The Lynching of Dan Rather
It's that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions," the aging American journalist told the British television audience. In June 2002, Dan Rather looked old, defeated, making a confession he dare not speak on American TV about the deadly censorship -- and self-censorship -- which had seized US newsrooms. After September 11, news on the US tube was bound and gagged. Any reporter who stepped out of line, he said, would be professionally lynched as un-American. "It's an obscene comparison," he said, "but there was a time in South Africa when people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. In some ways, the fear is that you will be necklaced here. You will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck." No US reporter who values his neck or career will "bore in on the tough questions."
Dan said all these things to a British audience. However, back in the USA, he smothered his conscience and told his TV audience: "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions. He wants me to line up, just tell me where." During the war in Vietnam, Dan's predecessor at CBS, Walter Cronkite, asked some pretty hard questions about Nixon's handling of the war in Vietnam. Today, our sons and daughters are dying in Bush wars. But, unlike Cronkite, Dan could not, would not, question George Bush, Top Gun Fighter Pilot, Our Maximum Beloved Leader in the war on terror. On the British broadcast, without his network minders snooping, you could see Dan seething and deeply unhappy with himself for playing the game.
"What is going on," he said, "I’m sorry to say, is a belief that the public doesn’t need to know -- limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war. It’s extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted, and I’m sorry to say that up to and including this moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current Administration revels in that, they relish and take refuge in that."
What is hot news this month in the USA is a five-year-old story to the rest of the world. And you still wouldn't see it in the USA except that Dan Rather, with a 60 Minutes producer, finally got fed up and ready to step out of line. And, as Dan predicted, he stuck out his neck and got it chopped off. Is Rather's report accurate? Is George W. Bush a war hero or a privileged little Shirker-in-Chief?
What is hot news this month in the USA is a five-year-old story to the rest of the world. And you still wouldn't see it in the USA except that Dan Rather, with a 60 Minutes producer, finally got fed up and ready to step out of line. And, as Dan predicted, he stuck out his neck and got it chopped off.
Is Rather's report accurate? Is George W. Bush a war hero or a privileged little Shirker-in-Chief?
This is not a story about Dan Rather. The white millionaire celebrity can defend himself without my help. This is really a story about fear, the fear that stops other reporters in the US from following the evidence about this Administration to where it leads. American news guys and news gals, practicing their smiles, adjusting their hairspray levels, bleaching their teeth and performing all the other activities that are at the heart of US TV journalism, will look to the treatment of Dan Rather and say, "Not me, babe." No questions will be asked, as Dan predicted, lest they risk necklacing and their careers as news actors burnt to death.