Stepping Down

Dan Rather and Mark Cuban. Rather (Dan) Papers, e_rathe_00220, Briscoe Center for American History.

News of Rather eventually stepping down from the anchor chair emerged as in late 2003. Dan Rather had wished to leave the anchor chair in 2006, marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of being the anchor of the CBS Evening News. In the fall of 2004, however, tensions arose following a 60 Minutes II story about President George W. Bush's service record in the Texas Air National Guard at the time of the Vietnam War. The authenticity of documents used was called into question, and the story was eventually retracted. Pressure on the network continued, and Rather announced in November 2004 that he would step down as anchor in March 2005. Through negotiations with CBS, it was agreed that Rather would then move to 60 Minutes II or 60 Minutes if the former were to end.

Meanwhile, CBS appointed a panel to investigate the 60 Minutes II story. It concluded that the network rushed to make inadequately verified allegations public and was slow in responding to criticism. The panel, however, was unable to conclude whether the documents were forgeries or not, nor did it conclude that a political agenda at 60 Minutes II drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content. Four CBS employees were asked to resign or were terminated. Rather continued to work for 60 Minutes II until its cancellation and then moved to 60 Minutes. He left the network altogether in June 2006 when his contract, contrary to what had ben verbally agreed upon, was not renewed.

CBS produced and aired a retrospective of his career in March 2005 entitled "Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers." In September 2007, Rather sued CBS for breach of contract and various tort theories. The case was eventually dismissed by a New York State appeal court. Dan Rather moved on to HDNet TV, now AXS TV, where in November 2006 he started Dan Rather Reports, a news magazine for which he was nominated for and won numerous awards.

Bob Schieffer succeeded Rather on an interim basis from 2005 to 2006, and Evening News executive producer Jim Murphy was replaced by Rome Hartman in January 2006. On September 5, Katie Couric became the first female anchor of the CBS Evening News. In her five-year tenure, she received praise for her work, and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric won the 2008 and 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast, won an Emmy for Outstanding Continuing Coverage, and won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Video News Series for foreign correspondent Terry McCarthy's feature story "Afghan Bomb Squad." Scott Pelley has been the anchor since June 6, 2011.