"With the utmost respect, we mark the extraordinary and singular role Dan has played in writing the script of not only CBS News, but of broadcast journalism," said Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports, in a press release. "There will always be a part of Dan Rather at CBS News. He is truly a 'reporter's reporter,' and he has helped to train several generations of broadcast journalists. His legacy cannot be replicated."
CBS has been criticized for the way it has handled Rather's departure, which first leaked with a Howard Kurtz story last Thursday that was sourced to "CBS executives." Jim Lehrer told Kurtz, "I think the man deserves better than this." Wrote David Blum: "it seems coldhearted and callous for CBS to cast Rather out so mercilessly, and so publicly, in the twilight of his career." An anonymous former CBS executive told Gail Shister that Rather's treatment has been "disgraceful. He's a legend. He gave his life to that company. Even though he made a big mistake, he did 43 years and 11 months' great work."
According to the release, "CBS News is currently finalizing plans for a primetime special on the newsman's legendary career at CBS News." There will also be a story on Rather on tonight's "Evening News." The release, somewhat curiously, does not include a statement from Rather, who has already publicly commented about his departure.
It's important to remember that we don't know the backstory on how the Rather news first came out. Kurtz, in his "Media Notes Extra" column, noted Blum's piece, which suggested an organized leak on the part of CBS News, and suggested otherwise, writing: "sometimes stories aren't just handed to you." Rather had this season been a contributor to "60 Minutes," though with the arrival of contributors Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric, who join an already crowded group of correspondents, many of whom came over from the now canceled "60 Minutes II," there wasn't going to be a lot of space for him next season.
Rather is reportedly considering becoming host and producer of a weekly news program for high-definition television channel HDNet, which is owned by a company owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The full CBS press release is after the jump.
UPDATE: According to Rather's assistant Kim Akhtar, Richard Leibner, Rather's agent, will be releasing a statement later today.
UPDATE 2:According to CBS spokeswoman Sandy Genelius, Rather was given the opportunity to comment in the release and chose not to do so.
UPDATE 3: McManus told the Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold: "We just couldn't come up with a schedule of assignments on '60 Minutes' that was satisfactory for both him and CBS. There's nothing disrespectful whatsoever in that we've tried to do this in a very fair and equitable way, knowing that we couldn't come to an agreement on a contract extension. It was an ongoing process that from our perspective was as cordial, lengthy and respectful as we could have made it."
June 20, 2006
DAN RATHER TO LEAVE CBS NEWS
Dan Rather will leave CBS News, it was announced by Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports.
"Of all the famous names associated with CBS News, the biggest and brightest on the marquee are Murrow, Cronkite and Rather," said McManus. "With the utmost respect, we mark the extraordinary and singular role Dan has played in writing the script of not only CBS News, but of broadcast journalism. There will always be a part of Dan Rather at CBS News. He is truly a 'reporter's reporter,' and he has helped to train several generations of broadcast journalists. His legacy cannot be replicated."
"For more than four decades, Dan Rather has approached the job of broadcast journalist with a singular passion, dedication and, always, an unwavering desire to tell the story to the American public," said Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corp. "The unique mark he has left on his craft is indelible."
CBS News is currently finalizing plans for a primetime special on the newsman's legendary career at CBS News. It is scheduled to be broadcast sometime this fall. CBS News also will make a contribution to Rather's alma mater, now called Sam Houston State University.
Rather, who joined CBS News in 1962, is one of a handful of individuals who, literally, have created and built the institution of broadcast journalism. He has covered virtually every major event in the world for CBS News in the past 44 years. His resume reads like a history book: from his early local reporting in Texas on Hurricane Carla to his unparalleled work for CBS News covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; the civil rights movement; the White House and national politics; wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia and Iraq. From his first days as the Associated Press reporter in Huntsville, Texas, in 1950, he more than earned his reputation as the "hardest working man in broadcast journalism."
Rather regularly landed the biggest interviews with the world's most important and compelling figures, from the famous to the infamous. His passion for the news, for getting the story and for taking on the most challenging assignments in journalism is unmatched—something his competitors knew only too well--and he has dedicated himself to delivering to the American public coverage that is fair and accurate, no matter the size and scope of the story. Rather has interviewed every United States president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton and virtually every major international leader of the past 30 years. He landed two news-breaking interviews with Saddam Hussein. The first occurred in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Then, in February 2003, with coalition forces poised to invade the country, Rather secured the most sought-after interview in the world, an exclusive one-on-one with Saddam in Baghdad, the first the Iraqi leader had conducted with a Western journalist since 1991. Rather and his team at 60 MINUTES II also broke, arguably, the biggest story of the year--the abuse of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison--in April 2004.
Rather served as anchor and managing editor of the CBS EVENING NEWS from March 9, 1981 to March 9, 2005, the longest such tenure in broadcast journalism history. He anchored and reported for 48 HOURS from its premiere on Jan. 19, 1988, through September 2002. He was a correspondent for 60 MINUTES from October 1975 to September 1981, and again from March 2005 to the present. Rather served as a correspondent for 60 MINUTES II from its debut on Jan. 13, 1999, to its final edition in September 2005. His regular contributions to CBS News Radio included "Dan Rather Reporting," a weekday broadcast of news and analysis on the CBS Radio Network from March 1981 to November 2004.
During his four-plus decades with CBS News, Rather has held many other prestigious positions, including anchor of "CBS Reports" and of the weekend editions of the CBS EVENING NEWS. He served as the CBS News bureau chief in London and Saigon and was the White House correspondent during the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
He has received virtually every honor in broadcast journalism, including numerous Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and citations from critical, scholarly, professional and charitable organizations.
In 1994, Rather was honored by his alma mater, Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, which named its journalism and communications building after him. On a more personal note, 1997 also saw the dedication of Rather's birthplace as part of the Wharton County Historical Museum.
Among the biggest highlights of his illustrious career was his critically acclaimed live reporting on the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Rather spent 53 hours and 35 minutes on the air over less than four days beginning the morning of the attacks. He anchored coverage in the studio and reported on the crisis from Ground Zero and then filed reports on the attack's aftermath for 48 HOURS. He continued his coverage of the war on terror from datelines that included Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
In 2000, in addition to covering the Russian elections from Moscow and the peace process from Israel when they took a turn for the worse, Rather 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 an exit interview with President Clinton as he prepared to leave the White House.
Rather was also the first to get an exclusive interview with President Clinton in March 1999 after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton's impeachment by the House of Representatives; it was broadcast on 60 MINUTES II. It was one more first in a career punctuated by them. He was often the first of the U.S. news anchors to appear on the scene of major stories and did it once again that year when he was the first of the "big three" to report from Belgrade during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, filing stories for the CBS EVENING NEWS and other CBS News broadcasts. In addition to reporting on major events, including the Pope's visit to Cuba in January 1998, Rather was on the scene in New Orleans when Hurricane George struck the Gulf Coast in September that year.
Rather got down to even more familiar territory in 1997, when he conducted a rare interview with Horton Foote, a fellow Wharton, Texas native, for CBS NEWS SUNDAY MORNING and began a weekly syndicated newspaper column, reconnecting him to his roots as an Associated Press reporter in Huntsville, Texas, his first job in journalism. He also returned to China to report from Hong Kong as the British colony was formally turned over to Chinese rule. The trip included stops beforehand inside mainland China, recalling his earlier reporting there to cover events like the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations and President Richard Nixon's historic call on the Chinese leadership in 1972.
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 the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. That October, Rather was 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. That year, he reported on the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin from Jerusalem, was the only American anchor at Rabin's funeral, covered the 50th anniversary of V-E Day from London and made incisive contributions to four "CBS Reports" documentaries, including the multiple award-winning "In the Killing Fields of America."
In 1994, Rather reported from Eastern Europe 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 nearly a month 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 memorable: he was the only network anchor on the scene before and during the crisis, and he obtained several exclusive interviews with Haiti's military leader, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras.
Rather is a prolific writer. He is the author of The American Dream (2001), 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 frequently on journalistic ethics.
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 (now Sam Houston State University), 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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