Disgraced Journalist Returns to Network to Speak Out After 18 Years

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Apr 30, 2024

Dan Rather, the disgraced former CBS anchor, has returned to network news for the first time in nearly two decades. Rather received an invitation to appear in an interview about his time at the network and the rise and fall of his journalistic career.

Over his career, he had many notable moments that changed how news was reported in the United States.

Dan Rather’s Early Career

Dan Rather began his journalism career in Texas and quickly gained national recognition after his reporting saved thousands of lives during Hurricane Carla in 1961. His national broadcast helped initiate the successful evacuation of 350,000 people.

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Rather also became notable after his reporting from Dallas, in November 1963, after the Kennedy assassination.

Rather’s CBS Career

Rather’s long and successful career led him to occupy the role of news anchor for “CBS Evening News” for 24 years. He became one of the Big Three nightly news anchors in the U.S. from the 1980s through the early 2000s.

The CBS 4 News van in a parking lot

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In 2005, Rather left his position at the anchor desk following the Killian documents controversy. In 2006, CBS fired him.

Rather’s Controversy

Just ahead of former President George W. Bush’s re-election, Rather ran a “60 Minutes” special citing fake memoirs that disparaged the then-president’s behavior while serving in the National Guard in the 1970s.

President George W. Bush talks with President Vladimir Putin of Russia via telephone Saturday, Sept. 22, 2001, from his office at Camp David in Thurmont, Md.

Source: Eric Draper/George W. Bush Presidential Library

Soon, several typewriter and typographical experts concluded that the documents were forged, and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Burkett, the man who provided Rather with the documents, claimed to have burned the originals after faxing the copies.

Rather Apologizes for the Scandal

After initially defending the memos, Rather and CBS eventually admitted that they never verified the documents as authentic and should not have used them.

Dan Rather speaking at a podium

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Rather apologized for the scandal ahead of the CBS investigation into the allegations of journalistic malpractice. Rather stepped down as news anchor and was fired a year later, disgraced by this.

Rather Returns to CBS

Recently, the 92-year-old former anchor appeared on an upcoming episode of “CBS Sunday Morning.”

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Rather gave an interview about the upcoming Netflix documentary, “Rather,” which narrates the story of his rise to prominence in the media and his swift downfall. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is available to stream on Netflix on May 1.


Another Film About Rather’s Scandal 

The big screen has told Rather’s story before. In 2015, the former journalist’s scandal was the subject of “Truth,” a film starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford.

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The film was based on the memoir “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power” by television news producer Mary Mapes.


Rather Stands Behind His Reporting

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about the film that year, Rather maintained journalistic integrity, stating that he reported on a true story that didn’t have the right facts behind it.

Dan Rather interviewing two military men at the White House

Source: Wikimedia Commons

“We reported a true story. We didn’t do it perfectly. We made some mistakes to get to the truth. But that didn’t change the truth of what we reported,” Rather said.


Rather Misses CBS

During his interview on “CBS Sunday Morning,” the news anchor expressed his grief after leaving CBS almost two decades ago.

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“Without apology or explanation, I miss CBS,” Rather told correspondent Lee Cowan in the interview that aired Sunday. “I’ve missed it since the day I left.”


Rather’s Career After CBS

Rather, he did not stop reporting after leaving CBS in 2005. Instead, the reporter moved to investigative journalism and major interviews for HDNet, a digital cable and satellite television network.

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“In the heart of every reporter worthy of their name, Lee, 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.


Adapting to His New Position

Changing venues was something that Rather felt like he needed to do after leaving CBS. He believed he was born to be a journalist who just part of being adapted to new methods.

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“You either get engaged and you get engaged in the new terms … or you’re out of the game,” Rather said in the interview. “And I wanted to stay in the game.”


Rather Warns Viewers on Misinformation 

Rather has never stopped being a media figure after his controversy. He regularly appears on left-leaning media outlets. He frequently makes guest appearances on CNN and MSNBC during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.

A woman with short blonde hair and a stripped shirt on typing on her smartphone near a window

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In 2021, PBS NewsHour Weekend also invited Rather to speak about “fake news,” where he warned about how “misinformation, outright lies, propaganda—all of this gets loose on the internet.”