Dan Departs: CBS Evening News Marks The End Of His “Long & Storied Career”

By Brian 

> Update: 7:38pm: The full transcript is now available; scroll down and click continued to read it…

Dan Rather declined to be interviewed for tonight’s CBS Evening News package about his “long and storied career.” The report, by Anthony Mason, included video of Rather covering Vietnam, Watergate, the fall of the Berlin Wall, hurricanes, and other major stories.

“A compulsive reporter, he’s never been intent just to tell a story — he wants to be in the middle of it,” Mason said.

Correspondent Lesley Stahl said “he was White House correspondent when I joined CBS, and I wanted to be Dan Rather.”

The report noted Memogate, when Rather “became the center of his own scandal.” Somber video of Dan walking down a hallway in a brown trenchcoat, carrying a briefcase, aired as Mason explained the contract disagreement.

At the close of the broadcast, Bob Schieffer added a personal note. “I’m going to miss Dan,” he said. “He’s been a part of my life for more than 40 years.”

“Dan Rather WAS one of the great reporters of his time,” Schieffer said, emphasizing the “was.” “Good luck Dan, all the best.”


It has been rumored for weeks, and today Dan Rather and CBS News made it
official. Dan is leaving CBS. Here’s Anthony Mason with a look back at Dan’s
long and storied career.

DAN RATHER reporting:

(From file footage) These are about four of the calmest people in a flood I’ve
ever seen.

ANTHONY MASON reporting:

Throughout his 44 years with CBS News, Dan Rather has had an extraordinary

RATHER: (From file footage) Vietcong has open fired on the convoy. They’re
now firing back and have asked for air support.

MASON: …for covering the defining stories of our time.

RATHER: (From file footage) How high up in the White House does it go?

MASON: A compulsive reporter, he’s never been content just to tell a story.

RATHER: (From file footage) The wind is gusting 144 miles an hour.

MASON: He wants to be in the middle of it.

RATHER: (From file footage) You better take your hands off of me unless you
plan to arrest me. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.

MASON: Today Dan’s departure is the story.

Mr. TOM BROKAW: I’ve spent 40 years chasing Dan around the world. He’s a
very tough competitor and he wore CBS on his sleeve. So this is truly the end
of an era for Dan and for CBS News.

MASON: Dan Rather joined CBS News in 1962…

RATHER: (From file footage) And this is a diagram, roughly, of the eye of the

MASON: …and immediately was on the front lines of history.

RATHER: (From file footage) It appears as though something has happened in
the motorcade group.

MASON: He was the first to report that President Kennedy had been killed.


(From file footage) We’ve just had a report from our correspondent Dan Rather
in Dallas that he has confirmed that President Kennedy is dead.

LESLEY STAHL reporting:

He was White House correspondent when I joined CBS, and I wanted to be Dan

MASON: Lesley Stahl admired Rather’s reporting during Watergate when he made
President Nixon’s enemies list.

STAHL: He was brave.

RATHER: (From file footage) People who love this country and people who
believe in you say reluctantly that perhaps you should resign or be impeached.

STAHL: Trust me, it’s very difficult to be asking the president hard

Announcer: This is the CBS EVENING NEWS with Dan Rather.

MASON: In March of 1981, he succeeded Walter Cronkite as anchor of this
broadcast, a seat he would hold for nearly a quarter century.

Unidentified Man: President!

RATHER: (From file footage) President Reagan was the target of an
assassination attempt.

Tiananmen Square, more than a million students crowded in here today.

MASON: He interviewed nearly every international leader. Saddam Hussein
exclusively, twice.

RATHER: (From file footage) President Bush has said that you are to be
equated with Hitler.

In most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing.

MASON: For ’60 Minutes II,’ he broke the story of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse
scandal. But it was also on ’60 Minutes II’ that Rather became the center of
his own scandal.

RATHER: (From file footage) It was a mistake.

MASON: Shortly after admitting errors in the report about President Bush’s
National Guard record, Rather retired as anchor of the EVENING NEWS.

RATHER: (From file footage) Courage.

MASON: For those of us who’ve had the honor of working with him, Dan said
that night…

RATHER: As the old saying goes, one door closes and another door opens. It
will be a different situation if I were going to step away and retire, which
may come some day but I hope not soon.

MASON: But he could not come to terms with CBS on new assignments. `It just
isn’t in me to sit around doing nothing,’ he said in a statement today. `So I
will do the work I love elsewhere.’ After 44 years, the president of CBS News
said Dan Rather leaves a legacy that cannot be replicated.

RATHER: (From file footage) And that’s part of our rapidly changing world.

MASON: Anthony Mason, CBS News, New York.

SCHIEFFER: And just a personal word, I’m going to miss Dan. He’s been a part
of my life for more than 40 years. We first met at the assassination of John
Kennedy when I was a young newspaper reporter. We crossed paths again in
Vietnam. And when I joined the CBS News Washington bureau as a rookie
reporter in 1969, he was the most famous reporter in America, a White House
correspondent for CBS News, but he made me feel welcome.

His way was not always my way and we did not always agree, but we became
friends along the way because we shared a great love for news. When a story
broke, he wanted to be there. He thought that was the only way to report a
story. That is the mark of all great reporters. That is what I most admire
and will always remember about him. Dan Rather was one of the great reporters
of his time.

Good luck, Dan. All the best.