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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 10:46 GMT
Dan Rather: America's news anchor
Dan Rather in 2000
Rather has been CBS news anchor for 23 years

Dan Rather, one of the United States' most respected news anchormen, has announced he is to retire as the lead of CBS main news programme next year.

Rather, 73, has been the face of television news for millions of Americans for decades, with a career stretching back more than half a century.

A national institution, he has reported on numerous major world events, including many of the 20th Century's biggest conflicts.

Rather has covered wars in Vietnam, the Gulf and the Balkans, as well as the quest for peace in South Africa and the Middle East.

He has been lead anchor of CBS Evening News for 23 years.

"Humbled is the way I feel," he said announcing his retirement. "I had no idea I would last this long in the anchor chair."

Saddam Hussein

He obtained an interview with Saddam Hussein shortly before the Iraqi leader was deposed.

"I'm a reporter," he said at the time. "What reporters do is try to talk to everybody on all sides of the story. I don't know any journalist who wouldn't take this interview."

You work hard, you try hard, you report as best you can, playing no favourites and pulling no punches
Dan Rather

More recently Rather was criticised over a report which he anchored, questioning President George W Bush's military service, based on evidence which turned out to be forged.

Apologising for the error, he told TV viewers: "I want to say personally and directly I'm sorry. This was an error made in good faith."

Born in October 1931 in Wharton, Texas, he has won a string of honours for his broadcasts, including Emmys, the top US television prize.

Famed for his incisive, studied delivery and prosaic style, he once said: "A tough lesson in life that one has to learn is that not everybody wishes you well."

RATHER CAREER CHRONOLOGY
1963: Covers death of President John F Kennedy
1965: Takes position of bureau chief in London, and later correspondent in Vietnam
1970s: Covers 'Watergate' scandal leading to President Richard Nixon's downfall
1981: Replaces Walter Cronkite as anchorman for CBS Evening News
1988: In an interview with then Vice President Bush Rather presses him about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, prompting a heated exchange
1999: Rather secures an exclusive first sit-down interview with President Clinton following the Lewinsky scandal and his impeachment
2001: Live anchoring of CBS News coverage of 9/11
2001: Reports from Afghanistan on US efforts to oust the Taleban
2003: An exclusive interview with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad
Earlier this month when CBS called Florida for Bush on election night, Rather said Democratic challenger John Kerry was "rapidly reaching the point where his back is to the wall and the bill collector is at the door".

The Washington Post said Rather had "always been the most colourful and intense of the Big Three anchors, winning plaudits for investigative work and flying into war zones even as detractors accused him of grandstanding and liberal bias".

Last year, Rather said US press freedom was being undermined by a wave of patriotism which swept the US following the 11 September attacks.

He said that fear of offending the politicians "keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions".

The journalist has interviewed US presidents from the time of Eisenhower, and many major international leaders of the past 40 years.

National exposure

He reported on the assassination of president John F Kennedy in November 1963 and the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Dan Rather in 1990
Rather has reported on the world's major conflicts
He was in Dallas when Kennedy was killed, gaining his first prolonged national exposure.

A former CBS bureau chief in London and Saigon, Rather was White House correspondent during the Watergate scandal and fall of President Nixon.

In a famous exchange at a Richard Nixon news conference, the president asked Rather: "Are you running for something?". Rather replied: "No, Mr President, are you?"

From the UK, he headed CBS coverage of Princess Diana's funeral and the 50th anniversary of VE Day.

Asked how he wants people to remember his career, Rather told the Washington Post: "You work hard, you try hard, you report as best you can, playing no favourites and pulling no punches.

"When you're dedicated to that kind of reporting, you're going to take your shots. Some will be fair, some will be unfair. Dogs are going to bark and the caravan moves on."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A look at Dan Rather's best career moments



SEE ALSO:
US news anchor Rather to retire
23 Nov 04 |  Americas
CBS admits error over Bush memos
20 Sep 04 |  Americas
US media: The great divide
27 Sep 04 |  Americas


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