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Behind The Scenes

DAN RATHER
Anchor and Managing Editor, CBS Evening News; Anchor, 48 Hours.

In a career that has witnessed more history and broken more new ground than virtually any other in electronic news reporting, Dan Rather has defined the role of the modern anchor and proven himself the leader of ethics and integrity in American journalism as the 21st century approaches. Since 1962 when he first joined CBS News, he has handled some of the most challenging assignments in journalism. Rather's day-to-day commitment to substantive, fair and accurate news reporting and his tough, active style have cemented for him a position of unrivaled respect among his peers and the public.

Rather was as busy as ever in 1997 with coverage of two major domestic stories, among others: his ongoing reporting on the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh -- highlighted by exclusive interviews with the brother and wife of accused accomplice Terry Nichols and McVeigh lawyer Stephen Jones -- and the crash of TWA flight 800, the worst air disaster in U.S. history.

Following the murder of Ennis Cosby in January, Rather sat down for a moving conversation with a grieving Bill Cosby; the interview made headlines around the world and helped focus national attention not only on the crime, but also on Ennis Cosby's contributions to special education.

In May, Rather found himself getting back 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 launched a syndicated weekly newspaper column, "Part of Our World," harking back to his early days in journalism as a print reporter.

In June, Rather traveled to Hong Kong to anchor CBS News' coverage of the city's turnover to Chinese rule. He preceded that event with another reporting trip to China, traveling by train deep into the heartland of boomtowns and rice paddies, recalling his previous reports from China, including President Richard M. Nixon's historic visit in 1972 and the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. In September, he was again anchoring from overseas, covering the funeral of Princess Diana from London and Paris and of Mother Theresa from Calcutta. On a more personal note, August saw the dedication of Rather's birthplace as part of the Wharton County Historical Museum.

Rather marked a career milestone in 1996: March 9 was the 15th anniversary of his tenure as Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News. The year also offered Rather yet another opportunity to exercise his expertise and passion for politics -- the 1996 presidential campaign marked the 11th national election campaign Rather has covered. From the first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire to the nomnating conventions in San Diego and Chicago to the final tallies on Election Night '96 in November, Rather provided on-the-spot coverage of the people and the issues that will decide America's future. His interest in politics is not limited to the United States: in June he traveled to Moscow to report on the Russian elections.

Rather continued to make reporting from Bosnia a great priority in 1995 -- he made two trips to the front lines that year, reporting on American peacekeeping troops. He first began reporting from the region a quarter-century ago. Rather's trips since the war began yielded unparalleled access to the political and military leaders of the bloody struggle -- as well as the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

October 1995 literally found Rather 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. In November from Jerusalem, he reported the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and was the only American anchor on-site at the funeral. Rather's reports on a stunned and mourning nation inevitably recalled his reports from Dallas in the aftermath of President Kennedy's death. Also in 1995, he covered the 50th anniversary of V-E Day from London and then followed President Clinton to Russia to cover the Moscow summit.

In 1995, Rather made incisive contributions to four CBS Reports documentaries: "In the Killing Fields of America;" "Victory in Japan" with retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf; "The Religious Right;" and "The Gulf War + 5," a sober assessment of the victories and losses of the war against Iraq. 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 sea to study the ocean floor.

Rather began 1994 with a January trip to Eastern Europe -- reporting 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 -- before boarding a plane to cover the Los Angeles earthquake. He spent most of April in South Africa, reporting on that country's first attempt at true democracy and interviewing candidates of all the major parties in the elections, including the first interview with Winnie Mandela in five years. Rather also went to the Middle East just before the Palestinians moved into Gaza and the West Bank and conducted interviews with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. His reporting from Haiti was perhaps Rather's most memorable of the yearThe only network anchor on the scene before and during the crisis, he was in the thick of the action, scoring several exclusive interviews with Haiti's military leader, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras.

A prolific author, Rather's most recent book is an abridgment of Mark Sullivan's landmark popular history, Our Times: America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century(1995). Rather 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.

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.

He has interviewed every United States president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton and virtually every major international leader in the past 30 years. In 1990, he was the first American journalist to interview Saddam Hussein after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Since the start of his career in 1950, Rather has been in the middle of America's -- and the world's -- defining moments. From Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas, when he worked around the clock to keep America 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 major news stories in the world.

Rather's 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 White House correspondent during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.

Since March 9, 1981, Rather has served as Anchor and anaging Editor of the CBS Evening News. He also anchors and reports for 48 Hours, the CBS News primetime hour. That broadcast premiered on Jan. 19, 1988, making Rather the first network journalist to anchor an evening news broadcast and a primetime news program at the same time. He is also a regular contributor to CBS News Radio, including "Dan Rather Reporting," his weekday broadcast of news and analysis which has aired 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.

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.


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