NEW YORK (AP) — CBS News hasn't invited Dan Rather back to participate in its 50th-anniversary coverage of the Kennedy assassination, but images of the longtime anchor who parted bitterly with the network will be a part of its upcoming documentary on how the story unfolded that day.
Rather helped organize CBS' plans for President John F. Kennedy's visit to Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and as a young reporter was a key component of assassination coverage. Now 82, with his own show on AXS-TV, he's one of the few reporters on the story that day still active in journalism.
Rather, who later became CBS News' top anchor for 24 years, will appear on NBC's "Today" show on Nov. 22 this year.
"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."
CBS Washington bureau chief Bob Schieffer, who as a newspaper reporter in 1963 gave the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald a ride to Dallas after the assassination, will anchor a Nov. 16 special on that day's coverage. CBS' announcement of the special recently said viewers will relive the day with anchor Walter Cronkite and reporters Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt and Mike Wallace. All of those men are now dead; Rather went unmentioned.
Rather expressed concern about an effort to "airbrush this guy out because we don't like him," but the show's senior executive producer said this would not be the case. Film of Rather on that day will be part of the Schieffer special, and so will recollections that Rather recorded for the network through the years, said Susan Zirinsky.
"Dan Rather was a big part of the CBS coverage when the assassination occurred ... he's absolutely in the broadcast," Zirinsky said.
Rather worked at CBS News for 44 years. His downfall came as a result of a 2004 story about President George W. Bush's military service. Under criticism, the network concluded the story couldn't be substantiated, but Rather has stood behind it. His tenure as anchor ended six months later and he left CBS in 2006, eventually filing a $70 million lawsuit against his old employers that was thrown out in 2010 by New York's highest court.