Dan Rather to Leave Anchor Desk in March

Rather to leave anchor desk in March (CNN)

Dan Rather, embattled anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” announced Tuesday that he will step down in March, on the 24th anniversary of taking over the job from Walter Cronkite. The veteran anchor has been under fire in recent months for his role in a “60 Minutes Wednesday” story that questioned President Bush’s service in the National Guard, which turned out to be based on allegedly forged documents. Rather, 73, said he will continue to work for CBS, as a correspondent for both editions of “60 Minutes.”

He made no mention of the National Guard story in announcing the change, saying he had agreed with CBS executives last summer that after the November 2 election would be the right time to leave. “I have always been and remain a `hard news’ investigative reporter at heart,” he said. “I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full time.”

CBS did not mention a potential successor for Rather, who has been at CBS for more than four decades and made his name as a reporter covering the Nixon White House.

The scandal and the precipitous drop in the ratings of Rather’s program likely had a bit to do with this. Still, he’ll have long weathered the RatherGate storm by March. He’s been at it far longer and is much older than Cronkite was in 1980. He may well have retired by now, anyway. Tom Brokaw, who came aboard at NBC during the same wave, is retiring ahead of him.

Update (1631): Kevin Aylward, who agrees this is not a victory for bloggers, has a roundup of blogospheric reaction.

FILED UNDER: Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    Ahem…I didn’t realize Mr. Cronkite was so concerned with time, so to speak. Ahem.

  2. James Joyner says:

    The man’s pretty old. Although fairly young for a guy who retired 24 years ago…

  3. Aakash says:

    Who will replace him?

    In many cases such as this, especially those involving liberals or neoconservatives, I would be quite glad to see a media figure go. However, when I was watching the news growing up, Dan Rather was the one who has always been on… He’s been there for all these years. And I am someone who typically does not like change.

    (Perhaps this is how some people may have felt about Walter Cronkite… even if they didn’t agree with him. But I don’t know – that was before my time.)

    Didn’t Connie Chung used to be a co-anchor for that show or something? (I remember what happened with her and Kathleen Gingrich… Some time after that, she was canned.) Have they decided yet who will replace Rather as the anchor for the CBS Evening News?