CBS 'Sunday Morning' Interview Was Homecoming For Dan Rather

Dan Rather came home Sunday morning for the first time in 18 years.

The “home” he left in 2006 was CBS, where he worked for 44 years and became the very face of CBS News.

His homecoming took the form of an extensive feature and interview on “CBS News Sunday Morning” clocking in at eight minutes and 26 seconds.

The story had no hook, such as a new book or award. It was styled simply as a story aimed at catching up with this television newsman who earned a hard-charging reputation covering stories all over the world for CBS for more than four decades.

As the piece illustrated with clips, Rather was everywhere -- President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, in Vietnam, at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, at Tiananmen Square, on hand at the fall of the Berlin Wall and a thousand other places and events.



Here’s the news that struck me the most: Dan Rather is 92. Time flies, doesn’t it? The good news is, he looks none the worse for wear (screenshot, above).

" 'Dan Rather, CBS News' became sorta all part of my name, a part of my identity," he told interviewer Lee Cowan, himself a veteran of CBS News.

“Without apology or explanation, I miss CBS. I’ve missed it since the day I left there,” Rather said.

He left under a cloud, following a report he delivered in 2004 on the “60 Minutes” spinoff show called “60 Minutes II.”

The story cited “new documents and new information” that would shed light -- negative light -- on then-President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

But then questions arose about the authenticity of the documents and the “new” information. Basically, the story didn’t stand up under scrutiny.

It was an embarrassment for Rather, who apologized on “The CBS Evening News.” He stepped down from the show the following year after anchoring it for 24 years. He left CBS in 2006 after the network decided not to renew his contract.

“It was the lowest point [in his career at CBS],” he said. “I gave CBS News everything I had. They had smarter, better, more talented people, but they didn’t have anybody who worked any harder than I did.”

It is to Rather’s credit that he seemed to accept that, for better or worse, this “low point” would be part of this “CBS This Morning” feature and a part of his life’s story too.

Good, bad or indifferent, Dan Rather was always the consummate journalist. “In the heart of every reporter worthy of their name, there’s a message that news, real news, is what somebody somewhere -- particularly somebody in power -- doesn’t want you to know. That’s news,” Rather said.

When Cowan asked him to comment on the state of journalism today, Rather paused for a moment. “Let the record show that I paused!” he said.

“The people who are practicing journalism today are so much better than those of us who came up at another time,” he said.

“They’re better educated, they’re more knowledgeable about the world. They wanna do the right thing; they’re doing the best they can.”

Today, Rather lives in Austin, Texas, the state where he was born on October 31, 1931.

“The closest you can do about legacy is not think about your work,” he said when Cowan asked him about how he would like to be remembered.

“Think about what you did as a person. Those important questions of, who am I? Why am I here? What can I contribute? Those are the important questions, not how well one did or didn’t do as anchor or managing editor of ‘The CBS Evening News’.”

Photo credit: CBS News Sunday Morning

1 comment about "CBS 'Sunday Morning' Interview Was Homecoming For Dan Rather".
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  1. Kevin Killion from Stone House Systems, Inc., April 30, 2024 at 1:28 p.m.

    Younger people in the business may have no idea of what happened tenty years that led to Dan Rather's downfall.  In short, Rather's presentation of hoax documents in an attempted smear of President Bush is viewed by some as the start of the era of "fake news".  For those too young to remember, this is a good overview and it includes the hoax documents themselves:

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