Dan Rather biography
Dan Rather, born on October 31, 1931 in Houston, Texas, worked his way up at CBS News from reporter to anchor and helmed CBS Evening News for more than two decades. He’s also reported for 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. Resigning from the network after a questionable story on President George W. Bush, Rather has worked as an anchor and managing editor on AXS TV and published a 2012 memoir.
Journalist Daniel Irving Rather was born on October 31, 1931, in Houston, Texas. His mother, Veda, cared for Rather and his two younger siblings. His father, Daniel Sr., laid pipeline for Texas oil fields. The family moved to Houston about a year after Daniel, Jr. was born and settled into a working-class neighborhood there. Although neither of his parents had been to college, and his father had never finished high school, his family was determined to see Dan graduate and go to college.
Rather's own interest in journalism was sparked partly by his parents' voracious reading habits, and by a bout of rheumatic fever that left Dan bedridden for weeks. During his rest, he listened to radio broadcasts to pass the time, and developed an interest in the reports delivered by war correspondents such as Eric Sevareid and Edward R. Murrow. By the time he was a teenager, Rather had decided to become a newspaper journalist.
After high school, Rather entered Sam Houston State College in Huntsville, Texas. At Houston State he edited the school's paper, interned as a reporter for the Associated Press and United Press International, and worked part time at a small radio station. In 1953, earned his bachelor's in journalism and became the first member of his family to earn a college degree.
Rather attempted to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps after finishing school, but when his superior officers learned about his childhood bout with rheumatic fever he was disqualified from military service. In 1954, he went to work at KTRH—a radio station owned by the Houston Chronicle newspaper. He came to work at 4 AM every morning to read the news and, eager to prove himself, he eventually persuaded his boss to give him his own show on his only day off. His hard work and dedication earned Rather the position of station news director in 1956. Over the next three years, he climbed his way up the ladder to television reporter for Houston station KTRK-TV.
By 1961, he had made it to news director for KHOU-TV, the CBS affiliate in Houston. His coverage of Hurricane Carla brought him to the attention of network executives, and he was promoted to the position of CBS network correspondent. It was in this position that Rather became the first journalist to report the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His demeanor and reporting style throughout the tragedy again garnered attention from network executives, who promoted Rather to the White House beat in 1964.
CBS Evening News
After serving as a foreign correspondent for CBS News, Rather drew the assignment as primary anchor for the CBS Weekend News, while also serving as White House correspondent during the Richard Nixon presidency.
Rather became one of the most recognizable figures in the national news media during this time, with his coverage of the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
An assignment in 1975 as correspondent for the Sunday evening news show, 60 Minutes, put Rather in the spotlight again. He soon relinquished the prestigious position, however, when he was named to be the successor to anchor Walter Cronkite, who was then the main anchor of the CBS Evening News. Rather assumed the position upon Cronkite's retirement in March 1981. In 1988 he also began hosting the CBS news show, 48 Hours.
Rather earned the title of "the hardest working man in broadcast journalism," after holding down the top job at three national news programs simultaneously: CBS Evening News, 48 Hours and 60 Minutes II. In addition to his three anchoring positions, he writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column and hosts the radio program Dan Rather Reporting, which is heard on more than 300 radio stations nationwide.
In 2005, Rather stepped down after 24 years as anchor of the CBS Evening News—24 years to the day after he took over for Cronkite. But by the end of 2006, Rather was back on television again, this time reporting on his own show, Dan Rather Reports, for the HDNet cable network. He also formed an independent company called News and Guts Media, and is currently working on a book.
Rather has received numerous Emmy Awards for his broadcast journalism work, as well as the coveted Peabody Award. He and his wife Jean Goebel, whom he met when she was hired as a secretary at KTRH, currently reside in New York City.