Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Dan Rather to Step Down at CBS in March


Less than two months after acknowledging that he could not authenticate documents central to a broadcast report that raised fresh questions about President Bush's National Guard service, Dan Rather has decided to step down as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" on March 9, on what will be his 24th anniversary behind the anchor desk.

"I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world and to have it at CBS News," Mr. Rather said in a statement issued by the network just after noon today. "Along the way I've had the honor of working with some of the most talented, dedicated professionals in the world, and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to continue doing so in the years years ahead."

Mr. Rather will continue to work full time at CBS News, as a correspondent for the Sunday and Wednesday editions of "60 Minutes." There was no word from CBS News on a successor as anchor, although the front-runners in the view of network reporters and producers have long been John Roberts, the chief White House correspondent for CBS News, and Scott Pelley, a correspondent for the Wednesday edition of "60 Minutes." But neither is considered to have strong name recognition among viewers, and the network has not ruled out looking beyond its own news division.

Mr. Rather's decision represents an abrupt, somewhat ignominious end to the nearly quarter of a century that he spent in one of the most visible jobs in journalism. In announcing his decision now to quit the anchor desk, Mr. Rather, 73, is seeking to act ahead of an independent panel investigating the journalistic breakdowns that led CBS News to broadcast and then vigorously defend the Guard segment, which it later acknowledged to be based on documents whose genuineness and origins it could not substantiate.


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