CBS has made the final announcement: Dan Rather is no longer at the network. CBSNews.com has the details, as well as a tribute to the former anchor's career. The moments they are most proud of are his two interviews with Saddam Hussein.
Dan Rather is leaving CBS after 44 years with the Tiffany Network.
Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, made the announcement.
"Of all the famous names associated with CBS News, the biggest and brightest on the marquee are Murrow, Cronkite and Rather," McManus said. "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."
CBS News is working on a primetime special on the newsman's career. 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's contract with the network was scheduled to expire in November, but he was unable to reach agreement with CBS on a new pact. He had worked as a correspondent for 60 Minutes since stepping down as anchor of the CBS Evening News last year.
Rather told the New York Times that he is considering an offer from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to do a weekly news program for Cuban's HDNet cable channel.
Here is CBS News' version of a timeline for Dan Rather's career:
- 1962: Joins CBS News as chief of the network's Southwest bureau in Dallas, where it was his job to cover 23 states, Mexico and Central America.
- Nov. 22, 1963: Reports live from the scene of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Not only was CBS the first network on the scene, but Rather was also the first to report Kennedy had died.
- 1964: Promoted to White House correspondent for CBS News.
- 1965: Sent to Vietnam — at his own request — to cover the war.
- 1966: Returns to the U.S. and resumes his role as White House correspondent.
- 1974: His combative style is captured in a memorable moment while exchanging verbal jabs with President Nixon. First, Rather is booed and applauded when he stands to ask Nixon a question. Mr. Nixon turned the question around: "Are you running for something?" "No, sir, Mr. President," Rather shot back. "Are you?" This angers the White House. Several CBS affiliates asked for his resignation.
- 1974: Co-wrote a book about Watergate, "The Palace Guard," which became a best-seller. Another book, "The Camera Never Blinks," was published in 1977.
- 1980: Slips into Afghanistan in disguise following the Soviet invasion. The escapade earns him a nickname: "Gunga Dan."
- March 9, 1981: CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite retires, and Rather takes over.
- 1986: Rather is attacked and badly beaten on Park Avenue by a deranged man later convicted of murdering an NBC stagehand. Rather's woozy recollection of his attacker's words, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" becomes the title of a song by rock band R.E.M.
- 1987: Rather walks off the Evening News set in anger after the network decided to let the U.S. Open tennis tournament run overtime, cutting into the news broadcast. CBS was left with dead air for six minutes.
- Jan. 25, 1988: In an interview with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, Rather presses the future president about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. A heated exchange follows, with Mr. Bush asking Rather whether he wished to be judged for the tennis walk-off.
- 1990: Is the first American journalist to interview Saddam Hussein after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
- March 31, 1999: Secures an exclusive first sit-down interview with President Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment by the House.
- 2001: Breaks into tears twice on David Letterman's late-night show while discussing the 9/11 attacks a few days after the tragedy.
- Feb. 24, 2003: Gets the most sought-after interview in the world: an exclusive one-on-one with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the first time the Iraqi leader talks with an American journalist since 1991.
- March 9, 2005: Rather steps down as anchor of the Evening News.