Even though CBS has not invited Dan Rather to be part of the JFK 50th anniversary coverage, he will still be featured on footage from the fateful day.
Rather and the network had a bitter falling out stemming from a story about former President George W. Bush in 2004, which caused the longtime anchor to leave CBS in 2006.
The national network will present a documentary about how the story of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination unfolded in 1963.
Dan Rather was not only reporting for CBS on the day Kennedy was shot, he helped organize the network’s coverage of the President’s visit to Dallas.
As one of the young reporters on duty that day, Rather was an integral part of the coverage that began after noon on November 22, 1963 and lasted for the next four days.
“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.”
A documentary, anchored by veteran Bob Schieffer, will air on November 16 and will take viewers through that day’s coverage.
The details of the coverage shared by the network mention Walter Cronkite, who famously announced the death of the President and reporters Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt, and Mike Wallace, all of whom are dead. There is no mention of Dan Rather.
Even though Rather believes he is being slighted because they “don’t like him”, Susan Zirinsky, the documentary’s senior executive producer says film of Dan Rather on that day will be part of the Schieffer special, and so will recollections that Rather recorded for the network through the years.
“Dan Rather was a big part of the CBS coverage when the assassination occurred (…) he’s absolutely in the broadcast,” Zirinsky said.
Rather’s history with CBS lasted 44 years, during which he was a fixture on the nightly news and other programs, such as “60 Minutes Wednesday.”
In 2004, Rather broke a story about former President George W. Bush’s military service. Under intense pressure, the network concluded the source hadn’t been properly vetted, but Rather still insists the story was accurate.
He left CBS in 2006 and eventually filed a $70 million lawsuit against his old employer, which was thrown out in 2010 by New York’s highest court.
On November 22, 1963, Dan Rather was the CBS New Orleans Bureau Chief, and as such, he arranged locations along the presidential motorcade route to be used during filming of the visit and transmitted to the network’s New York headquarters. He had no on-air assignment.
Dan Rather took a great leap of faith, declaring that President Kennedy was dead after receiving information from Parkland Hospital, where JFK was taken after the shooting. CBS went with his story.
For the 50th anniversary commemorations, Dan Rather gave an extensive interview to competitor Tom Brokaw of NBC, which will air on November 22, the date of JFK’s assassination.