In the Midst of the Action  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   May 1998

In the Midst of the Action   

Famous moments in Dan Rather's career.

By Unknown
     

Related reading:
   » Rather Remarkable
   » The Dan Rather Story

Dan Rather is one of our last, best journalistic witnesses to almost every frame of the lunatic newsreel of American life that started rolling in Dallas 35 years ago. He is also a player in some of the major scenes. It started with him being the first television journalist to see Abraham Zapruder's 22-second home movie of the president's head exploding and his seat-of-the-pants report of what he saw becoming fodder for conspiracy theorists who said Rather was part of a cover-up.

CBS authorized Rather to offer Zapruder $10,000 for the film, but Life magazine walked away with exclusive rights to this controversial window on history with its bid of $150,000.

Then it was Houston, 1974: A Watergate-tarnished President Nixon holds a press conference at the National Association of Broadcasters convention. Rather, the CBS White House correspondent, rises to ask a question.

Rather: "Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather with CBS News, Mr. President.."

(Applause and jeers.)

Nixon: "Are you running for something?"

Rather: "No sir, Mr. President, are you?"

On to January 25, 1988, with Rather interviewing presidential candidate George Bush live on "CBS Evening News." Rather is pressing Bush about his role in the Iran-contra affair, and Bush is angry. Before it's over, Bush will get personal – reminding Rather of the night when tennis ran over and the lights went out on "CBS Evening News."

Bush: "This is not a great night, because I want to talk about why I want to be president, and I don't think it's fair..."

Rather: "And, Mr. Vice President, these questions are designed.."

Bush: "...to judge my whole career. I don't think it's fair to judge my whole career by a rehash of Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York? Would you like that?"

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