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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 00:40 GMT
US news anchor Rather signs off
Dan Rather
Dan Rather has worked at CBS News for more than 40 years
Dan Rather, one of America's most influential news anchors, has presented his final bulletin.

The 73-year-old, who took over from Walter Cronkite in 1981, has presented the CBS network's main evening news broadcast for exactly 24 years.

But his retirement has been marred by criticism he received over a recent report questioning President George W Bush's military service record.

Mr Rather says he will continue to work on the CBS magazine show 60 Minutes.

"We've shared a lot in the 24 years we've been meeting here each evening," he said, as he closed his final bulletin.

"And before I say goodnight, this night, I need to say thank you."

'Lucky and blessed'

Born in Wharton, Texas in October 1931, Rather joined CBS in 1962 and reported on President John F Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.

His other scoops include interviews with President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair, and Saddam Hussein shortly before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Dan Rather in 1990
Rather has reported on some of the world's major conflicts

Rather also reported on some of the world's most important events, from the war in Vietnam to the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and the Asian tsunami disaster.

"I have been lucky and blessed over these years to have what is, to me, the best job in the world," he said when announcing his retirement in November.

However, some commentators believe his decision to step down was hastened by a report he presented last year claiming George W Bush got special treatment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War.

But an internal investigation revealed "considerable and fundamental deficiencies" in the story and Rather was forced to retract and apologise on air.

'Crucial role'

"He has been an eyewitness to the most important events and played a crucial role in keeping the American public informed about those events," said CBS chairman Leslie Moonves last November.

Rather's exit follows the departure of long-time rival Tom Brokaw from NBC's Nightly News in December.

It leaves Peter Jennings of ABC's World News Tonight as the only remaining member of the triumvirate who came to be known collectively as the "voice of God".

CBS is broadcasting a one-hour retrospective on Rather's career on Wednesday following Rather's final appearance as news anchor. He will be succeeded in the short term by Bob Schieffer.

Watch Dan Rather sign off for the final time

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