Video: Focus on Dan Rather

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updated 9/22/2004 2:12:08 PM ET 2004-09-22T18:12:08

To say that Dan Rather is a broadcasting icon would be an understatement. He has handled some of the most challenging stories in journalism, while carving out a unique and often controversial style.

Drama has always seemed to follow Dan Rather. He has provided award-winning coverage on everything from the civil rights movement, through the Kennedy assassination, to Watergate, Iran Contra, and the U.S. military operations.

Republicans have been angry with Dan Rather as far back as the Nixon administration.

  • Remember the famous exchange of March 1974?

Rather: Dan Rather, CBS News. (jeers) 
Nixon:  Are you running for something? 
Rather: Mr. President, are you? 

  • While that was Rather's most famous Watergate moment, Nixon supporters remember Rather pounding the president nearly everyday. Many Republicans thought this question crossed a line:

Rather:  Mr. President, I wonder if you could share with us your thoughts, tell us what goes through you mind when you hear people, people who love this country and people who believe in you, say reluctantly that perhaps you should resign or be impeached? 

Nixon: “Well, I am glad we don't take the vote of this room, let me say.”

  • During the Reagan administration, CBS reporter Lesley Stalh said Rather was  “a man many in the White House saw as 'the devil himself.'” When then-Vice President George Bush was running for president in 1988, Rather tried to corner him on the Iran-Contra arms for hostages scandal.
  • The year before, Rather had walked off the anchor desk, angry about a network decision to continue carrying a tennis match running long. When the match ended, and CBS stations were on their own for seven minutes.
  • In 1991, he conducted an interview with Saddam Hussein just before the First Gulf War.
  • During the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, Rather was highly skeptical of independent counsel Kenneth Starr, and the Republicans in Congress.
  • And during the Florida recount, Rather reported, “Florida's Republican Secretary of State is about to announce the winner as she sees it and she decrees it.” Republicans were infuriated with Rather, but the courts agreed with him, and the recount continued.

Through the years, Dan Rather's hard-hitting style has always stood out—often making him the story in addition to whatever he was covering.

And now, it's happened again: Dan Rather is again front and center… only this time, his critics couldn't be happier.

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