Dan Rather Not Invited to Join CBS’ Kennedy Coverage

Dan Rather Not Invited Join CBS'

NEW YORK (AP) — CBS News hasn’t invited Dan Rather back to participate in its 50th-anniversary coverage of the Kennedy assassination, but images of the longtime anchor who parted bitterly with the network will be a part of its upcoming documentary on how the story unfolded that day.

Rather helped organize CBS’ plans for President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and as a young reporter was a key component of assassination coverage. Now 82, with his own show on AXS-TV, he’s one of the few reporters on the story that day still active in journalism.

Rather, who later became CBS News’ top anchor for 24 years, will appear on NBC’s “Today” show on Nov. 22 this year.

“I held off doing anything for anybody else for a while, thinking I may be asked to do something (for CBS),” Rather said. “I can’t say I had any reason for that hope.”

CBS Washington bureau chief Bob Schieffer, who as a newspaper reporter in 1963 gave the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald a ride to Dallas after the assassination, will anchor a Nov. 16 special on that day’s coverage. CBS’ announcement of the special recently said viewers will relive the day with anchor Walter Cronkite and reporters Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt and Mike Wallace. All of those men are now dead; Rather went unmentioned.

Rather expressed concern about an effort to “airbrush this guy out because we don’t like him,” but the show’s senior executive producer said this would not be the case. Film of Rather on that day will be part of the Schieffer special, and so will recollections that Rather recorded for the network through the years, said Susan Zirinsky.

“Dan Rather was a big part of the CBS coverage when the assassination occurred … he’s absolutely in the broadcast,” Zirinsky said.

Rather worked at CBS News for 44 years. His downfall came as a result of a 2004 story about President George W. Bush’s military service. Under criticism, the network concluded the story couldn’t be substantiated, but Rather has stood behind it. His tenure as anchor ended six months later and he left CBS in 2006, eventually filing a $70 million lawsuit against his old employers that was thrown out in 2010 by New York’s highest court.

As a young New Orleans bureau chief for CBS in November 1963, Rather had a mundane assignment in Dallas. He had arranged locations along the presidential motorcade route for film of the visit to be picked up and transmitted to CBS’ New York headquarters. He had no on-air assignment.

He sprang into action when it became clear something had gone terribly wrong. Rather described in his 1977 book, “The Camera Never Blinks,” that CBS radio went with his report that Kennedy was dead – based not on official confirmation but his phone conversations with men who identified themselves as a doctor and priest at the hospital where Kennedy was taken, and a colleague’s conversation with the hospital’s chief of staff.

It was an extraordinary risk: if Rather was wrong, he conceded his career in journalism likely would have ended there.

Days later, Rather was among the first people to see film of the assassination taken by Abraham Zapruder and he later described it live on CBS, reading from a spiral notebook what it captured of the president and first lady at the moment of impact. CBS failed, however, to acquire rights to the film.

“I’m proud of what CBS News did at the time,” Rather said. “When the country needed it, CBS News was the best in the business.”

Rather gave an extensive interview about what happened that day to his old competitor, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, for use on Brokaw’s NBC special to air Nov. 22.

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  1. Rusty Shakelford says:

    Hello, I like to learn things in school. School is fun. Learning is fun to me. I watch things on my computer. What is CBS? Does it come on that thing my parents watch when I’m not gaming?

  2. 1peevedbob says:

    It appears that most of, if not all, of the alphabet networks, otherwise know as LAME STREAM MEDIA, haven’t forgotten that Rather compromised his principles when he attacked George Bush and his military service…..

  3. Frank W says:

    Now being reminded about Rather and the story of Bush’s Air National Guard service, makes me think of the recent arc on HBO’s The Newsroom along similar lines where the anchor who presented the flawed story is the one who had to fall on the sword for it. Well, in mid 2000, a guy who had his fingers in all things political told me the same story about Bush not fulfilling his service in the National Guard. I thought he was just being a conspiracy nut and the funny thing was 3-4 years later it becomes national news. So if this guy I worked with knew something as far back as before Bush was a front runner, maybe there was some truth in all of that after all?

  4. occultology says:

    Dan Rather “reported” (LIED) that “The President’s head went forward” to the American public, so, at best, his “movie review” analysis of the Zapruder Film reveals his intelligence agency asset status to a more wide awake Mr. & Mrs. American Public. In other words, Dan Rather’s “historical unthruth” is toxic to CBS “News” [psy-ops mind control perception delivery system]. No television demographic likes a Lying Mother Fkr disguised as a “reporter”.

    • Frank W says:

      Obviously you didn’t hear that the FBI saw the film and didn’t decide to keep it. And what would you want Rather to say, the President’s had blew off? Zapruder himself basically said something to that effect on live TV.

  5. Hope Rice says:

    Mr. Rather was treated very badly by CBS. I hope the truth will rise to the surface one of these days. If he was right in his report for CBS news, then I wish GWB would apologize to him. But I can’t imagine the Bush family ever doing that.

    • 1peevedbob says:

      Why should the Bush family apologize to Rather. Rather was the one who fabricated a story in an attempt to keep W from being elected.
      If Rather had his way, he would today report that Bush was there at Dealy Square and in the Texas Book Depository Building. Danny is getting what he deserves…..

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