Dan Rather

Dan Rather. CBS

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. He is often referred to as "the hardest working man in broadcast journalism."


Since 2002, the war on terrorism and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq have taken Rather to Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. In April 2004, his exclusive 60 Minutes II report revealing abuses at the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib prison broke the story, receiving worldwide attention and a Peabody Award.

In February 2003, Rather secured the most sought-after interview in the world: an exclusive one-on-one with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the first that the former Iraqi leader had conducted with an American journalist since 1991. Rather also reported from Kabul on the United States' effort to oust the Taliban, and from Jerusalem and the West Bank during the largest Israeli military action in two decades.

He gained special notice for his live anchoring of CBS News' coverage of the Sept. 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 the primetime newsmagazine 48 Hours.

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 Election Night 2000, a marathon that kept him on the air continuously from 6:00 PM on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to 10:00 AM on Wednesday, Nov. 8. During the time that the presidential race was undecided, Rather interviewed both candidates on how each felt about the stalemate in Florida. At the end of the year, Rather was the first anchor to be granted President Clinton's exit interview 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 Georges struck the Gulf Coast in September 1998.

As a full-time correspondent for 60 Minutes II, Rather secured an exclusive interview with President Clinton (March 31, 1999), Clinton's first sit-down interview following the Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment by the House. He was also the first to interview Clinton upon the release of his much-anticipated autobiography, "My Life," for a 60 Minutes hour-long report in June of 2004.

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 traveling by train deep into the Chinese heartland of boomtowns and rice paddies, recalling his previous reports from China on events including President Richard M. Nixon's historic visit in 1972 and 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. He first reported from the region a quarter of a century earlier and has had unparalleled access to political and military leaders as well as innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. October 1995 found Rather literally once more in the eye of a 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. In November of that year, he reported on the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from Jerusalem 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 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 obtained several exclusive interviews with Haiti's military leader, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras. He has interviewed every United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower 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 is a prolific writer. His recently published seventh book, "The American Dream," tells the stories of a wide cross-section of people, describing how they achieved their versions of the American dream. In addition 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 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 he kept the American people informed of the details of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to Beijing, Bosnia, Haiti and Hong Kong 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, two Peabody Awards and citations from critical, scholarly, professional and charitable organizations. He was regularly cited as "best anchor" in opinion surveys. 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 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.

From March 9, 1981, to March 9, 2004, Rather served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News. He anchored and reported for 48 Hours from its premiere on Jan. 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 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.

He was born Oct. 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.
  • Dean Cox

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.