Crusty old Dan Rather checked out as CBS news anchorman last night after 24 years, his reckless crusade against the sitting president his downfall.
Here is his on-air benediction:
- We have shared a lot in the 24 years we've been meeting here each evening. And before I say good night, this night, I need to say thank you.
Thank you to the hundreds of wonderful professionals at CBS News, past and present, with whom it has been my honor to work, over these years.
And a deeply-felt thanks to all of you who have let us into your homes, night after night. It has been a privilege, and one never taken lightly.
Not long after I first came to the anchor chair I briefly signed off using the word "courage." I want to return to it now, in a different way.
To a nation still nursing a broken heart for what happened here in 2001 and especially those who found themselves closest to the events of Sept. 11; to our soldiers in dangerous places; to those who have endured the tsunami and to all who have suffered natural disasters and who must find the will to rebuild; to the oppressed and to those whose lot it is to struggle, in financial hardship or in failing health; to my fellow journalists in places where reporting the truth means risking all; and to each of you.
For the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting.
After years of toiling in third place in the ratings behind ABC's Peter Jennings and then NBC's Tom Brokaw, Rather came in first on his way out, the same position he held on his way in after replacing Walter Cronkite in 1981. CBS averaged a 7.3 rating among the top 56 markets in the country, according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC's Nightly News had a 6.5 rating and ABC's World News Tonight was at 6.4.
Regarding his Bushy bete noir, CBS and Rather say:
- On Sept. 8, 2004, Rather did a report for the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes which raised questions about President George W. Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Included in the report were documents that purported to show that Mr. Bush received preferential treatment.