On his last "Nightly News" broadcast.
December 1st 2004
On his last "CBS Evening News" broadcast.
March 9th 2005
I have been thinking a lot about the role of the news anchor lately as well as the state of the news media. CHILD OF TELEVISION: If it wasn't for bad news, I wouldn't have any news at all. I do not judge the news anchor by the way that he or she reads a teleprompter, even though that is a very important job skill. Nor would I judge the news anchor by the way that he or she conducts an interview even though that too is a very important job skill. A good interviewer does not necessarily make a good anchor. I do judge the news anchor by how they handle themselves when they have to stall. It is not everyone who can address a local or national audience while not knowing what is going to happen next and can not only convey what information they do have, but to also do it with a sense of calm.
As a child in the 70s, when there were only three broadcast networks and no cable news outlets, the network news anchor was a trusted member of the family... "Uncle Walter". Look at the way Walter Cronkite let the country know that J.F.K. had died or that Neil Armstrong touched down on the moon. Walter Cronkite and his predecessor Edward R. Morrow were not always unbiased, but then again I'd say if you're witnessing the worst that humanity has to offer, you are entitled to comment on it once and a while. Also the news media in Morrow and Cronkite's time was not nearly as competitive then as it is now and I admit that I do not watch a lot of network news.
As for Dan Rather, for the most part, I do respect his body of work. I feel that Dan Rather, walking off the news set in anger after CBS delayed the broadcast for a tennis match in 1987 leaving 6 minutes of dead air was a bigger violation of the public trust than "Memo Gate". I choose to believe that the now infamous memo was a big mistake, but I don't want to see that event or the 6 minutes of dead air to be his epitaph. Some people believe that Mr. Rather was trying to make news rather than just reporting it. I think that some people want to make this issue more about politics than journalism.
To quote Linda Elerbe, "And so it goes".