Dan Rather

News Anchor/ Reporter


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly eight-hour interview (in two sessions), Dan Rather talks at length about growing up in Houston, Texas and his early years as a radio and television journalist in the local market. He describes in detail his work at KHOU-TV, where his dramatic continuous coverage of "Hurricane Carla" garnered national recognition and brought him to the attention of CBS News. In addition, he explains the challenges and lessons he learned from covering monumental moments in the Civil Rights Movement and the assassination of President Kennedy, and why CBS News, due to logistics, did not broadcast live television's first on-air murder -- that of Lee Harvey Oswald.  He concludes with recollections on covering the war in Vietnam, the Nixon White House, and 9/11, and also speaks of his work on 60 Minutes and on succeeding Walter Cronkite as anchor of CBS Evening News. Don Carleton conducted the two-part interview in New York, NY on April 7 and November 7, 2005.

"I think one reason that a lot of people get into journalism is the opportunity to feel that you lead a purposeful life, in some small way. And if you're lucky and God smiles, at least you'll have a few opportunities to feel that you're contributing to something that's larger than just yourself and your own self interests. I can think of no other craft or profession or practice or anything in which I would have had more joy."

Highlights
Dan Rather on the news profession and what it means to him "to live a purposeful life"
03:10
Dan Rather on covering 9/11
04:06
On the craft of reporting "you have to love the news"
02:07
On changing America's view on the Vietnam War
00:44
Dan Rather on his training grounds in becoming a journalist
On his tete-a-tete with Nixon at the 1974 Houston press conference
05:04
On the addictive nature of journalism
00:31
Dan Rather on being naive about how to look and sound on television when he first started, on not needing an "announcer" voice
01:47
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early childhood, education, and influences
On his childhood dream of wanting to be a reporter; on starting his career in radio

Chapter 2

On his early work at KRRH radio in Texas; 
On how he got a break to write his first newscast; eventually becoming Director of News and Public Affairs for KTRH in 1956
On what he learned in radio working there for six years, his training grounds for becoming a journalist; on the impact early television made on him

Chapter 3

On the gradual transition from radio to television
On working for KTRK in Houston on "The Coaches Show", his first foray on television; on being naive about how to look and sound on television; on not needing an "announcer" voice
On what a reporter's job is; on hitchhiking to the 1956 Democratic convention; on what made him want to do television news

Chapter 4

On how he became interested in television news; on his first on-air audition
On his first job as news director and host in 1960 at KHOU-TV in Houston, TX (a CBS affiliate); on learning from that job more about the craft of reporting "you have to love the news"
On decisions about building the news program at KHOU; being a "breaking news" station whose slogan became "when the news breaks out, we break in"; on shooting film himself and also conducting interviews

Chapter 5

On the early process of filming the news in 1960 while at a CBS affiliate in TX; "shoot film and get out" as the slogan for the start-up news organization
On covering "Hurricane Carla" in Texas while developing the news program there; on being sent overseas for the first time and meeting President Eisenhower in 1960

Chapter 6

On covering Hurricane Carla
On how news television was transmitted in the early 1960s via telephone lines and microwaves

Chapter 7

On the first time television carried an image of a live hurricane; Walter Cronkite's reference to him as being up to his ass in water moccasins
On the impact the hurricane coverage in Galveston had on his career
On the importance of his profession; on why he loves being a journalist
On being offered a job at CBS News after his reporting on the Hurricane in Texas

Chapter 8

On joining CBS News; on his screen-test for the station; on meeting legendary newsman Charles Collingwood who became his mentor
On how Charles Collingwood helped him greatly when Rather went to Laos and was having trouble gaining access 
On moving to Dallas to cover the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1960s

Chapter 9

On the riots when James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi
On being threatened with violence while covering the Civil Rights Movement and his own views on Civil Rights at the time
On being in Dallas, Texas in 1962-3
On the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated

Chapter 10

On reporting on President Lyndon Johnson
On his path to reporting from Vietnam
On his experience reporting on the India-Pakistani Way and how it shaped him as a foreign correspondent
On reporting from Vietnam

Chapter 11

On how covering the war in Vietnam changed him
On CBS executive Fred Friendly
On covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago

Chapter 12

On the Nixon administration's relationship with the press
On Nixon's 1974 press conference in Houston

Chapter 13

On 60 Minutes
On the path to succeeding Walter Cronkite as anchor of CBS Evening News

Chapter 14

On preparing to be Walter Cronkite's successor as anchor of CBS Evening News
On his style and image as an anchor
On working with Tom Bettag and the blank screen that aired on CBS Evening News during the 1986 U.S. Open

Chapter 15

On the blank screen that aired on CBS Evening News during the 1986 U.S. Open
On interviewing Saddam Hussein
On covering 9/11/01
On retiring from CBS Evening News
On the controversial story about President Bush's military service
On his legacy and the craft of journalism
On the future of television news
Shows

60 Minutes

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Dan Rather on 60 Minutes
15:47

CBS Evening News with Dan Rather

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Dan Rather on becoming the CBS Evening News anchor and succeeding Walter Cronkite
13:12
Dan Rather on succeeding Walter Cronkite as anchor of CBS Evening News
06:41
Dan Rather on retiring from CBS Evening News
02:37
Dan Rather on the blank screen that aired on CBS Evening News during the 1986 U.S. Open 
01:26

CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite

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Dan Rather on becoming the CBS Evening News anchor and succeeding Walter Cronkite
13:12

CBS Reports

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Dan Rather on CBS Reports
09:08
Topics

9/11

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Dan Rather on covering 9/11
04:06

Characters & Catchphrases

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Dan Rather on his sign-off, "And that's a part of our world"
01:26

Civil Rights Movement

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Dan Rather on covering the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s
Dan Rather on reporting in Mississippi when James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi

George W. Bush

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Dan Rather on the controversial story about President George Bush Jr's military service
01:43

Gulf War

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Dan Rather on his first interview with Saddam Hussein
08:03

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Dan Rather on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated
08:03

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Dan Rather on reporting on President Johnson
08:44
Dan Rather on covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and Lyndon Johnson
07:44

Pop Culture

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Dan Rather on his sign-off, "And that's a part of our world"
01:26

Richard M. Nixon

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Dan Rather on Nixon's relationship with television
18:57
Dan Rather on Nixon's 1974 press conference in Houston
08:39

Technological Innovation

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Dan Rather on how news television was transmitted in the early 1960s via telephone lines and microwaves
Dan Rather on the changing media landscape in the early 1980s
06:10
Dan Rather on the future of television news
01:25

Vietnam War

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Dan Rather on reporting on the Vietnam War
10:25

War on Terror

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Dan Rather on his second interview with Saddam Hussein
04:05
Professions

Anchor

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Dan Rather on what he learned about being in front of a camera as a newsman from Calvin Jones after his first audition
Dan Rather on filling Walter Cronkite's anchor role
13:12

Correspondent

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Dan Rather on writing a 15 minute newscast in record time while at KTRH Radio in Texas
Dan Rather on what a reporter's job really is
Dan Rather on the type of reporting done on 60 Minutes
02:52

Journalists & News Producers

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Dan Rather on the news profession and what it means to him "to live a purposeful life"
06:19
Dan Rather on being a young reporter trying to get his Civil Rights news feed out while in the Deep South
02:41
Dan Rather on journalism
02:32
Genres

News and Documentary

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Dan Rather on building the first CBS affiliate news station in Houston: on "breaking news"
Dan Rather how Charles Collingwood helped him greatly in learning how to cover news in Vietnam and Laos
Dan Rather on how news material was gathered and fed out during the Civil Rights Movement
09:42
Dan Rather on the type of reporting done on 60 Minutes
02:52
People

Tom Bettag

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Dan Rather on working with Tom Bettag and the blank screen that aired on CBS Evening News during the 1986 U.S. Open
07:05

Charles Collingwood

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Dan Rather on meeting legendary newsman Charles Collingwood when he first arrived at CBS News; on how he became a mentor for Rather
Dan Rather on how Charles Collingwood helped him greatly when Rather went to Laos and was having trouble gaining access 
Dan Rather on how Charles Collingwood helped him prepare for a meeting with CBS head William S. Paley

Walter Cronkite

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Dan Rather on Walter Cronkite's quote about him being up to his ass in water moccassins, while Rather was covering Hurricane Carla in 1960
21:57
Dan Rather on anchor Walter Cronkite and Rather's path to Vietnam
03:56
Dan Rather on an incident that occurred while talking to Walter Cronkite during the 1968 DNC
05:12
Dan Rather on Walter Cronkite's retirement
13:12

Fred Friendly

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Dan Rather on news executive Fred Friendly and Rather's path to Vietnam
06:15
Dan Rather on his memories of Fred Friendly
03:38

Don Hewitt

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Dan Rather on 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt
01:52
Dan Rather on working with Don Hewitt on 60 Minutes
02:13

Saddam Hussein

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Dan Rather on interviewing Saddam Hussein
12:08

Lyndon B. Johnson

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Dan Rather on reporting on President Johnson
08:44
Dan Rather on covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and Lyndon Johnson
07:44

John F. Kennedy

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Dan Rather on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated
08:03

Bill Leonard

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Dan Rather on CBS executive Bill Leonard and Rather's path to Vietnam
03:30

Roger Mudd

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Dan Rather on talks to co-anchor CBS Evening News with Roger Mudd and being Walter Cronkite's successor
08:08

Richard M. Nixon

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Dan Rather on Nixon's relationship with the media
18:57

William S. Paley

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Dan Rather on William Paley selling CBS
05:43

Harry Reasoner

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Dan Rather on writer Harry Reasoner and Rather's path to Vietnam
03:56

Morley Safer

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Dan Rather on 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace
01:52

Van Gordon Sauter

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Dan Rather on changes that CBS President Van Gordon Sauter brought to the network
06:53

Frank Stanton

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Dan Rather on how Frank Stanton supposedly encouraged Lyndon Johnson to buy a television station in Austin, Texas 
00:52

Larry Tisch

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Dan Rather on CBS CEO Larry Tisch
05:43

Mike Wallace

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Dan Rather on working on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace
01:52

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