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Daniel Irvin "Dan" Rather, Jr. (born October 31, 1931) is a journalist and former news anchor for the CBS Evening News and is now managing editor and anchor of a television news magazine, Dan Rather Reports, on the cable channel HDNet. Rather was anchor of the CBS Evening News for 24 years, from March 9, 1981, to March 9, 2005. He also contributed to CBS' 60 Minutes. Rather left CBS Evening News in 2005 and subsequently left the network in 2006.


Early life

Dan Rather's boyhood home being restored at the Wharton County Museum
Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. was born on October 31, 1931, in Whartonmarker, Wharton Countymarker, Texasmarker, the son of Daniel Irvin Rather, Sr., and the former Byrl Veda Page. The Rathers moved to Houston, and Dan attended Love Elementary School and Hamilton Middle School. He graduated in 1949 from John H. Reagan High School in Houston. In 1953, he received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Sam Houston State Universitymarker where he was editor of the school newspaper, The Houstonian. At Sam Houston, he was a member of the Caballeros, which was the founding organization of the currently active Epsilon Psi chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity. In 1954, Rather enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, but failed to complete recruit training because of his childhood bout with rheumatic fever. After obtaining his undergraduate degree, Rather briefly attended South Texas College of Law in Houston, which later awarded him an honorary Juris Doctor in 1990.

Start of his career

Rather began his journalism career in 1950 as an Associated Press reporter in Huntsville, Texasmarker. Later, he was a reporter for United Press (1950–1952), several Texas radio stations, and the Houston Chronicle (1954–1955). While at Sam Houston State, Rather worked for KSAM-FM radio in Huntsville, Texasmarker calling junior high, high school, and Sam Houston State football games. He later spent four seasons as the play-by-play announcer for the University of Houstonmarker football team. During the 1959 minor league baseball season, Rather was the play-by-play radio announcer for the Houston Buffs team of the triple A American Association. In 1959, he began his television career as a reporter for KTRK-TVmarker in Houston. Rather was promoted to the director of news for KHOU-TVmarker, the CBS affiliate in Houston. Ray Miller, news director of KPRC-TVmarker, the NBC affiliate in Houston, also mentored Rather in the early years.

In early-September 1961, Rather reported live from the Galveston Seawall as Hurricane Carla threatened the Texas coastline. His reporting, which has been imitated by countless other reporters, impressed the network executives at CBS, and they hired him as a CBS News correspondent in 1962. In his autobiography, Rather notes that back then, television stations did not have their own radar systems, and of course nobody then had the modern computerized radar that combines the radar image with an outline map. So he took a camera crew to a National Weather Service radar station located on the top floor of the Post Office Building on 25th Street in Galvestonmarker, where a technician drew a rough outline of the Gulf of Mexicomarker on a sheet of plastic, and held that over the black and white radar display to give Rather's audience an idea of the storm's size and position of the storm's eye.

CBS News

JFK Assassination to Watergate

Rather was the first network television journalist to report that U.S.marker President John F. Kennedy was assassinatedmarker in Dallasmarker. In his autobiography, he also claims to be one of the first to see the Zapruder film showing the assassination and the first to describe it on television. The film was not itself shown on television to the general public, and Rather reported the fatal headshot as forcing Kennedy's head to be thrown violently forward, when the Warren Commission concluded it was thrown backwards. This misreporting is sometimes included as part of conspiracy theories which purport that the direction in which Kennedy's head moved supports one theory or another.

Later, he reported that some schoolchildren in Dallas had applauded when they were notified of the president's death. Administrators said that, in fact, the thrust of the announcement was that school was to be dismissed early (making the students' delight more understandable). This story infuriated local journalists at then-CBS affiliate KRLD-TV (now KDFW-TVmarker), who temporarily threw the CBS News staff out of their workspace.

Rather's reporting during the national mourning period following the Kennedy assassination and subsequent events brought him to the attention of CBS News management, which rewarded him in 1964 with the network's White Housemarker correspondent position.

After serving as a foreign correspondent for CBS News, he drew the assignment as primary anchor for the CBS Sunday Night News, while serving as White House correspondent during the Richard Nixon presidency. He covered the Watergate investigation as well as the impeachment proceedings.

CBS Evening News anchor

After President Nixon's resignation, Rather took the assignment of chief correspondent for the documentary series CBS Reports. He later became a correspondent of the long-running Sunday night news show 60 Minutes, just as the program was moved from a Sunday afternoon time-slot to primetime. Success there (and a threat to bolt to ABC News) helped Rather pull ahead of longtime correspondent Roger Mudd in line to succeed Walter Cronkite as anchor and Managing Editor of CBS Evening News.

Rather assumed the position upon Cronkite's retirement, making his first broadcast on March 9, 1981. From the beginning of his tenure, it was clear that Rather had a significantly different style of reporting the news. In contrast to the avuncular Cronkite, who ended his newscast with "That's the way it is", Rather searched to find a broadcast ending more suitable to his tastes. For one week during the mid-1980s, Rather tried ending his broadcasts with the word "courage" and was roundly ridiculed for it. He eventually found a wrap-up phrase more modest than Cronkite's and more relaxed than his own previous attempt; for nearly two decades, Rather ended the show with "That's part of our world tonight."

While Rather had inherited Cronkite's ratings lead, the success of the Evening News with Rather at the helm fluctuated wildly. After a dip to second place, Rather regained the top spot in 1985 until 1989 when he ceded the ratings peak to rival Peter Jennings at ABC. By 1992, however, theEvening News had fallen to third place, where it remained.

The traditionally strong journalistic bench of CBS News was weakened in 1984, when new owner Lawrence Tisch oversaw layoffs of thousands of CBS News employees, including correspondents David Andelman, Fred Graham, Morton Dean and Ike Pappas. Fewer videotape crews were dispatched to cover stories and numerous bureaus were closed. Reporting by Peter Boyer of the New York Times indicates that Rather did relatively little to stop this, having already chosen to marginalize the people he considered to be "B" level correspondents.

For a short time from 1993 to 1995, Rather co-anchored the evening news with Connie Chung. Chung had previously been a Washington correspondent for CBS News and anchored short news updates on the west coast. On joining the CBS Evening News, however, she worked to report "pop news" stories that did not fit the style of the broadcast. In one incident, she was on an airplane interviewing Tonya Harding, who was accused of being behind the plot to injure fellow Olympic ice skater Nancy Kerrigan. Chung ultimately left the network, and Rather went back to doing the newscast alone.

At the end of Rather's time as anchor, the CBS Evening News lagged behind the NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight in the ratings, although it was still drawing approximately 7 million viewers a night. Criticism of Rather reached a fever pitch after 60 Minutes II ran his report about President Bush's military record; numerous critics questioned the authenticity of the documents upon which the report was based. In the aftermath of the incident, CBS fired multiple members of the CBS News staff but allowed Rather to stay on. Rather retired under pressure as the anchor of the CBS Evening News on March 9, 2005.

Other current notes

Sam Houston State Universitymarker renamed its mass communications building after Rather in 1994. The building houses The Houstonian and KSHUmarker, the student-run radio and television stations.

Rather married his wife Jean in 1957. The have a son and daughter, and maintain homes in New York City and Austin, TX.

In May 2007, Rather received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Siena Collegemarker in Loudonville, New Yorkmarker, for his lifetime contributions to journalism.

Rather is also a columnist whose work is distributed by King Features Syndicate.

His daughter Robin is an environmentalist and community activist in Austin, Texasmarker.

On May 28, 2007, Rather compared historical events to events in the Star Wars films in the History Channel special, "Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed".

Rather continues to speak out against alleged influence in journalism by corporations and governments. At a recent conference in Minneapolis, Minnesotamarker, sponsored by the group Free Press, Rather criticized both local and national news organizations, stating, according to reports, that there is no longer incentive to do "good and valuable news."

Journalistic history and influence


During the presidency of Richard Nixon, critics accused Rather of biased coverage against President Nixon. At a Houston news conference in March 1974, Nixon fielded a question from Rather, still CBS's White House correspondent, who said, "Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, of CBS News. Mr. President.... Mr. President...." The room filled with jeers and applause, prompting Nixon to joke, "Are you running for something?" Rather replied "No, sir, Mr. President. Are you?". In his question, Rather accused Nixon of not cooperating with the grand jury investigation and the House Judiciary Committee in relation to the Watergate scandal.

According to NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the network considered hiring him, Brokaw, as its White House correspondent to replace Rather. But these plans were scrapped after word was leaked to the press. The controversy did little to dent Rather's overall tough coverage of the Watergate scandal, which helped to raise his profile.

Afghanistan, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush

During the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, Rather was on camera wearing a traditional Mujahadeen headdress and garments while reporting from near the front lines. These reports helped Rather gain prominence with the Evening News audience (and the nickname "Gunga Dan"; Rather's reports were also spoofed by the comic strip Doonesbury). It later turned out that Rather's reports played a role in moving Congressman Charlie Wilson to try to help the struggling mujahideen, which led to the largest ever CIA covert operation in supplying aid and advanced arms to the mujahideen, which in turn eventually led to the Soviets quitting Afghanistan.

Rather's energy and spirit helped him out-compete Roger Mudd for the anchor spot on the Evening News. Mudd was a more senior correspondent and a frequent substitute anchor for Walter Cronkite on the Evening News, and he also anchored the Sunday evening broadcast. But it was Rather who traveled through Afghanistan when the news led there. A few years into his service as anchorman, Rather began wearing sweaters beneath his suit jacket to soften and warm his on-air perceptions by viewers.

Later during the 1980s, Rather gained further renown for his forceful and skeptical reporting on the Iran-Contra Affair, which eventually led to an on-air confrontation with then Vice President George H. W. Bush: Bush referred to Rather's "dead air incident" saying, "I want to talk about why I want to be President, why those 41 percent of the people are supporting me. And I don't think it's fair to judge my whole career by a rehash on Iranmarker. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?" Rather ignored Bush's comment.

Shortly after Iraqmarker invaded Kuwaitmarker, Rather secured an interview with Iraqimarker leader Saddam Hussein.

On February 24, 2003, Rather conducted another interview with Hussein before the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. In the interview, Hussein invited Rather to be the moderator of a live television debate between himself and George W. Bush. The debate never took place.

The Wall Within

On June 2, 1988, Rather hosted a CBS News special, The Wall Within. In it, he interviewed six former servicemen, each of whom said he had witnessed horrible acts in Vietnammarker. Two of the men said that they had killed civilians, and two others said that they had seen friends die. Each talked about the effects the war had upon their lives — including depression, unemployment, drug use and homelessness.

In their book Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heroes and its History, authors B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley said they had obtained the service records of all six men, documenting where each was stationed during the Vietnam War. According to the records, the authors said, only one of the men was actually in Vietnam; he claimed to have been a 16-year-old Navy SEAL but, said Burkett and Whitley, the records listed him as an equipment repairer.

Chandra Levy reporting

On July 12, 2001, Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center issued a press release stating that the failure of CBS News to run a single story regarding the disappearance of former Congressional intern Chandra Levy was evidence of "media bias". According to Bill Press, Rather chose to avoid covering the Levy story because he preferred what he called "decent, responsible journalism". CBS News eventually ran a single story about the Levy disappearance the following week.

Killian documents

On September 8, 2004, Rather reported on 60 Minutes Wednesday that a series of memos critical of President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service record had been discovered in the personal files of Lt. Bush's former commanding officer, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. The authenticity of these documents was quickly called into question by a small group of bloggers, initially based on their being proportionally printed and displaying other modern typographic conventions with limited availability on military typewriters of the time. This led to claims that the memos were forgeries. The accusations then spread over the following days into mainstream media outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rather and CBS initially defended the story, insisting that the documents had been authenticated by experts. CBS was contradicted by some of the experts it originally cited,. CBS later reported that their source for the documents, former Texas Army National Guard officer Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, had misled the network about how he had obtained them.

On September 20, CBS retracted the story. Rather stated, "If I knew then what I know now, I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question." The controversy has been referred to by some as "Memogate" and "Rathergate."

Following an investigation commissioned by CBS, CBS fired story producer Mary Mapes and asked three other producers connected with the story to resign. Many believe Rather's retirement was hastened by this incident. On Thursday, September 20, 2007, Rather was interviewed on Larry King Live commenting "Nobody has proved that they were fraudulent, much less a forgery. ... The truth of this story stands up to this day."


On September 19, 2007, Rather filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS, its former parent company Viacom, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves, Sumner Redstone, chairman of both Viacom and CBS and Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News. Rather accused the network and its ownership and management of making him a "scapegoat" in the Killian story. A CBS spokesman claimed that the lawsuit was "old news" and "without merit". On September 21, 2009, Rather's lawyers claimed that Bush's military service would be proven to be a sham and Rather would be vindicated.On September 29, 2009, A New York state appeals court dismissed former TV newsman Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS.

Departure from the CBS Evening News

Rather retired as the anchorman and Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News in 2005; his last broadcast was Wednesday, March 9, 2005. He worked as the anchorman for 24 full years, the longest tenure of anyone in American television history, and for a short time continued to work as a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Bob Schieffer, a fellow Texan and host of Face the Nation, took over Rather's position on an interim basis, with Katie Couric replacing Schieffer in 2006.

Since retiring, he has spoken out strongly about what he perceives as a lack of courage by American journalists. On January 24, 2006, Rather spoke to a Seattlemarker audience. Before the speaking engagement, he told a newspaper reporter, "In many ways on many days, [reporters] have sort of adopted the attitude of 'go along, get along.'"

"What many of us need is a spine transplant", Rather added. "Whether it's City Hall, the State House, or the White House, part of our job is to speak truth to power."

Departure from CBS News

In June 2006, reports surfaced that CBS News would most likely not renew Dan Rather's contract. According to a Washington Post article, sources from CBS said that executives at the network decided "there is no future role for Rather".

On June 20, 2006, CBS News and Sports president Sean McManus announced that Rather would leave the network after 44 years. Rather issued a separate statement which accompanied the news of the departure:

Rather has since resumed his career with HDNet, a high-definition cable television station as a producer and hosts a weekly one-hour show called Dan Rather Reports as of October 24, 2006. Rather also has contributed as a guest on The Chris Matthews Show, and on The Daily Show.

He has also formed an independent company called News and Guts Media and is reportedly working on a book.


He has received numerous Emmy Awards, several Peabody Awards, and various honorary degrees from universities.

Award Year Program Title
Peabody 1975 CBS News
Peabody 1976 60 Minutes
Peabody 1994 CBS Reports: D-Day
Peabody 1995 CBS Reports: In the Killing Fields of America
Peabody 2000 48 Hours: Heroes Under Fire
Peabody 2001 60 Minutes II: Memories of a Massacre
Peabody 2004 60 Minutes II: Abuse at Abu Ghraib


As one of the last broadcast news journalists from the era of the "Big Three" network news primacy, Rather was highly regarded within his profession by many long-serving journalists. Rather has, however, been subject to criticism from many people who accuse him of having a liberal bias. Still others have expressed dislike for Rather's on-air delivery or argued that Rather was too "ham-handed", "pseudo-folksy" or "old-fashioned."

Claims of bias

Rather has been described as having a liberal bias for much of his career. Media Research Center, a conservative organization which claims to identify liberal bias in the media, has a file devoted to what they say are examples of Rather's bias. The pun "rather biased" has become a catchphrase used frequently by those who believe he is. In 1985, Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina and leading spokesman of the group Fairness in Media (FIM), sent out a letter to members urging them to buy twenty shares each of CBS common stock in an attempt to curb Rather's and CBS's alleged liberal bias. CBS fought back with the help of investment banking house, and several law and public relations firms.

Rather was criticized for speaking as part of a Democratic Party fundraiser in Texas in 2001. Rather said afterwards that he did not realize it was a fundraiser for the party.

Rather's on-screen comments and election night reporting have specifically come under attack as well, dating back to Richard Nixon's presidency. In a June 2002 interview with Larry King, his long-time co-worker (and self-described liberal) Andy Rooney stated that Rather is "transparently liberal".

Critics claim Rather has a double standard on how and which news stories to report, the Killian documents being the most famous example of this. During the weeks following the Killian documents, Rather received widespread criticism from other journalists and historiansfor his approach on reporting and confirmation of the documents' authenticity, as well as his continued insistence of standing by them. They also claim many of his interviews of public officials reflect a liberal bias, either being overly harsh (when interviewing a conservative) or "soft-ball" (when interviewing a liberal). In an interview with commentator Bill Maher, Rather accused Fox News Channel of receiving "talking points" from the Republican controlled White Housemarker. Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, who had defended Rather during the Memogate incident, criticized Rather heavily for not offering any evidence to support the claim:

In 2002, Bernard Goldberg published a book with the title "Bias," mainly speaking of liberal bias in the news. In the book, Goldberg used Dan Rather as a primary example of a news anchor with a liberal bias. It also criticises the anchor for his criticisms about President George W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle about their military service, when Rather's own service was brought into question.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has accused Rather of having "an unwillingness to challenge official power and policy" in his reporting. Investigative reporter Mark Hertsgaard characterized Rather as a "stern anti-Communist" during the Reagan administration for allegedly having "reported the pronouncements of public officials with considerable respect".

Criticism from Walter Cronkite

During an appearance on CNN's American Morning, former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite said about Rather: "It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull up the ratings beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerated his being there for so long." Cronkite also stated that Bob Schieffer's succession was long overdue.

Notable incidents

1968 Democratic convention

During live coverage of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Rather attempted to interview a delegate from Georgiamarker who appeared as though he was being forcibly removed by men without identification badges.

As Rather approached the delegate to question the apparent strong-arm tactics of the Chicagomarker political machine, he was punched in the stomach by one of the men, knocking him to the ground. "He lifted me right off the floor and put me away. I was down, the breath knocked out of me, as the whole group blew on by me...In the CBS control room, they had switched the camera onto me just as I was slugged."

"Kenneth, what is the frequency?"

On October 4, 1986, as Rather was walking along Park Avenue in Manhattanmarker to his apartment, he was attacked and punched from behind by a man who demanded to know, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?", while a second assailant also chased and beat him. As the assailant pummeled and kicked Rather, he kept repeating the question over and over again. In describing the incident, Rather said, "I got mugged. Who understands these things? I didn't and I don't now. I didn't make a lot of it at the time and I don't now. I wish I knew who did it and why, but I have no idea."

The incident and Rather's account led some to doubt the veracity of Rather's story, although the doorman and building supervisor who rescued Rather fully confirmed his version of events. The story entered popular lore and remained unsolved for some time. The incident inspired a song called "Kenneth, What's the Frequency?" by the band Game Theory in 1987. In October 1990, the phrase "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" appeared in an issue of the Daniel Clowes comic Eightball as part of the serialised graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron, and was revealed in a later episode to be a key part of the Mister Jones conspiracy theory. Also in 1990, Scott McCloud used the phrase in the first 24-hour comic. In 1994 the band R.E.M. released the song "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" on the album Monster. The phrase became the subject of many jokes over the years and slang for a confused or clueless person. Rather was a good sport about it, and actually sang with R.E.M. during a soundcheck prior to a gig at Madison Square Gardenmarker, New York, which was shown the following night on The Late Show With David Letterman before their performance of Crush With Eyeliner.

In 1997, a TV critic writing in the New York Daily News solved the mystery, and published a photo of the alleged assailant, William Tager. Rather confirmed the story: "There's no doubt in my mind that this is the person." "William Tager's identity as the man who attacked Mr. Rather was established in the course of an investigation by my office", said New York District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. Tager also admitted assaulting Rather. Tager is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for killing NBC stagehand Campbell Montgomery outside The Today Show studio in 1994.

In the December 2001 issue of Harper's Magazine, writer Paul Limbert Allman speculated that Professor Donald Barthelme (who died in 1989) had somehow orchestrated, or was otherwise connected to, the attack through other unnamed persons, citing unusual passages in Barthelme's writing, including the phrase "What is the frequency?", a recurring character named Kenneth, and a short story about a pompous editor named Lather. Limbert also uncovered the facts that Barthelme and Rather were likely to have known each other professionally early in their careers. The article was adapted into two plays, both entitled "Kenneth, What is the Frequency?" The first was by Ian Allen and Monique LaForce and debuted in Washington, D.C., in 2003. The second, written by Allman himself, premiered in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2004.

In the 2006-07 graphic novel Shooting War, the fictional Dan Rather of the year 2011 it portrays has adopted the personal motto, "The frequency is courage." In the 2006 film Land of the Blind, the phrase briefly appears on a blackboard in a re-education camp for opponents of the dystopian regime led by Donald Sutherland.


For one week in September 1986, Rather signed off his broadcasts to CBS with the single word "Courage". Apparently it was just a signature line and had nothing to do with the news at the time (which included the Joseph Cicippio abduction and a threat by Arab extremists to "become familiar with your skyscrapers and extend the terror campaign to the United States"), although TV critic Peter Boyer suggested it may have been in response to recent staff cutbacks at CBS News. Other newscasters ridiculed and parodied him, and he dropped it. Afterward, Rather said "And that's part of our world." On his last CBS Evening News broadcast, he once again signed off with "Courage", this time linking it to the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as courage shown by fellow journalists.

Dead air

On September 11, 1987, Rather walked off the set in anger just before a remote Evening News broadcast from Miami, where Pope John Paul II began a rare U.S. tour, when a U.S.marker Openmarker tennis match was being broadcast into the time scheduled for the newscast. He was upset that the news was being cut into to make room for sports and discussed it with the sports department. The Steffi Graf-Lori McNeil tennis match then ended sooner than expected at 6:32 p.m., but Rather was nowhere to be found. Over 100 affiliates broadcast six minutes of dead air. The next day, Rather apologized for leaving the anchor desk.


Rather is known for his many off-the-cuff colorful analogies and descriptions during live broadcasts. Similar to those used by baseball announcer Red Barber, and cycling commentator Phil Liggett, these "Ratherisms" are also called "Texanisms" or "Danisms" by some. A few of the more colorful ones, several of which were used throughout the 2008 HBO made-for-TV movie Recount about the 2000 Election, include:

  • "This race is shakier than cafeteria Jell-O."
  • "Things are getting hotter than a Times Square Rolex."
  • "This thing is as tight as the rusted lugnuts on a '55 Ford."
  • (When Georgia is called for Clinton in 1992)"Clinton is off to a start, rolling like a big wheel through a Georgia cotton field."
  • "This race is tight like a too-small bathing suit on a too-long ride home from the beach."
  • "He swept through the South like a tornado through a trailer park."
  • "Don't bet the trailer money on it yet."
  • "It's a ding-dong battle back and forth."
  • "Look at that. Can't get a cigarette paper between 'em."
  • "His chances are slim to none right now, and if he doesn't carry Florida, Slim will have left town."
  • "If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a hand gun."
  • "You would sooner find a tall talking broccoli stick to offer to mow your lawn for free."
  • "Turn the lights down, the party just got wilder."
  • "It's cardiac-arrest time in this presidential campaign."
  • "It's too early to say he has the whip hand."
  • "It's about as complicated as a wiring diagram to some dynamo."
  • "This election swings like one of those pendulum things."
  • "This will show you how tight it is - it's spandex tight."
  • "Al Gore has his back to the wall, shirt tails on fire with this race in Florida."
  • "Smelling salts for all Democrats please."
  • "Maybe you can bring some perspective on this, we're plumb out."
  • "When the going gets weird, anchor men punt."
  • "She didn't go to school just to eat her lunch."

Pop culture figure

Though his popularity and ratings declined over the years, Rather's apparent affinity for the bizarre has made him into an ironic pop-culture icon. He has been lampooned numerous times by the television shows Saturday Night Live and Family Guy and many films. Samples of Rather's newscasts were used to create "Rocked By Rape," a single by the Evolution Control Committee. The song combined some of Rather's more dramatic headlines ("Gunned down / shooting death / blood drops / murderer") with a heavily edited recording of AC/DC's Back in Black. This work brought legal threats against The ECC by CBS, but by 2003, CBS appears to have let the issue go by. "Rocked by Rape" was nationally broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered in 2000. It was even played at a roast for Rather, which was later broadcast on C-SPAN.

An animated version of him made a cameo appearance in the JibJab political cartoon, Good to Be in D.C..

In 2004, he was featured in the documentary film "Barbecue: A Texas Love Story" by Austin-based director Chris Elley. Two years later, Rather and Elley educated a group of New Yorkers in Madison Squaremarker Park about the true meaning of BBQ and its significance to the identity of the Lone Star State. Rather began the discussion with a direct statement: "Let's get this straight folks. If it ain't beef and it ain't in Texas, then it ain't barbecue."

In the 2006-07 graphic novel Shooting War, which is set in the year 2011, an 80-year-old Dan Rather is shown to be one of the last journalists still reporting from Iraq (although it is never made clear exactly for which news organization he is reporting).

Rather had a cameo in the premiere of the Fall 2007 drama Dirty Sexy Money on ABC television.

Rather is parodied daily on the Brad and Britt morning show that is broadcast Monday to Friday on FM Talk 101.1 WZTK in North Carolina. 'The Danno' character made the first of his many appearances on the show during the scandal that eventually led to Rather's exit from the CBS Evening News. The skit was such a hit that it continues to be a part of the popular moning show.

He guest-starred as himself in The Simpsons episode, "E Pluribus Wiggum."

Rather appeared on "The Daily Show" in May 2009 wearing an Afro wig and mutton-chop sideburns to narrate a segment about the late, former President Nixon eating a burrito, as a parody of MSNBC's extensive coverage of President Obama and Vice President Biden's hamburger lunch.

Illegal drugs

In a July 1980 interview with Ladies' Home Journal, Rather said that "in 1955 or '56, I had someone at the Houston police station shoot me with heroin so I could do a story about it. The experience was a special kind of hell. I came out understanding full well how one could be addicted to 'smack,' and quickly."

According to journalist Cliff Jahr, Rather said, "As a reporter - and I don't want to say that that's the only context - I've tried everything. I can say to you with confidence, I know a fair amount about LSD. I've never been a social user of any of these things, but my curiosity has carried me into a lot of interesting areas."


Under predecessor Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News was a strong #1 in the ratings, and Rather maintained a small ratings lead for a few years among the networks' news broadcasts through the early 1980s. However, Tom Brokaw and his NBC Nightly News and Peter Jennings of ABC News World News Tonight both became more popular than Rather's broadcast.


  • "There's an old saying that you should marry a girl from Texas because no matter how tough things get, she's tougher."
  • "I cannot remember a time when I didn't want to be a reporter."
  • "You can't be a good reporter and not regularly be involved in some kind of controversy."
  • In reference to the CBS News, while referring to Katie Couric, Rather stated that "the mistake was to try to bring the 'Today' show ethos to the 'Evening News,' and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."
  • Mistakenly referred to Barack Obama as Osama bin Laden. "I have a respect for Jesse Jackson. That he was an important figure in paving the way for an Osama bin Laden to appear."


Further reading

  • Downie, Leonard Jr., and Kaiser, Robert G. The News About The News: American Journalism in Peril. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002. ISBN 0-375-71415-4. Contemporary history of American journalism. Candid interviews with Rather and many others.
  • Rather, Dan. The Palace Guard, with Gary Gates
  • Rather, Dan. The Camera Never Blinks, with Mickey Hershkowitz 1978. Ballantine Books.
  • Rather, Dan. I Remember, with Peter Wyden.
  • Rather, Dan with Herskowitz, Mickey. The Camera Never Blinks Twice. 1995. William Morrow.
  • Rather, Dan. Deadlines and Datelines, Perennial, (Harper Collins), 1999, ISBN 0-688-17905-2 (pbk.)
  • Boyer, Peter J. Who Killed CBS, St. Martin's Press. 1989. ISBN 0312915314
  • 2nd Saddam interview

External links

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