Dan Rather, winner of this year’s Peabody Career Achievement Award, served as one of the Big Three national evening news anchors from the 1980s to the 2000s, a time of peak network news power, becoming one of the most recognizable journalists in the world. He has used the power of the press to great effect throughout his long journalism career—from saving thousands of lives during a hurricane in the 1960s to interviewing every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. And he has literally served as an anchor, providing a calm and authoritative voice at times of national strife, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and 9/11.
After a working-class upbringing in Houston, Rather worked in print and radio before landing at KHOU-TV, CBS’s local affiliate, in 1960. There, Rather first gained national prominence for his live coverage of Hurricane Carla in 1961. He created the first radar weather report when he overlaid a transparent map on top of a radar image of the storm, and ultimately helped to urge 350,000 people to evacuate the area safely. From there, he was promoted to a CBS national network correspondent and was instrumental in reporting Kennedy’s assassination from Dallas in 1963. Over the next decade, in addition to reporting from London and the battlefields of Vietnam, Rather also covered the Civil Rights Movement in the South, including the enrollment of the first Black student at the University of Mississippi and Martin Luther King Jr.’s jailing in Birmingham, Alabama. As the network’s White House correspondent, Rather handled the presidency of Richard Nixon, including Nixon’s historic trip to China, the Watergate scandal, and his eventual resignation. Rather was known particularly for his direct questioning of the difficult and embattled president.
By 1981, Rather rose to the position of CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor, sitting in the seat for the next 24 years, through the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, through 9/11 and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving CBS in 2006, he has remained active, anchoring Dan Rather Reports for HDNet until 2013, and then hosting The Big Interview on AXS TV. He continues to use modern technology to contribute to public discourse, hosting an online series (The News with Dan Rather) and maintaining a vibrant Substack newsletter as well as an active Twitter presence. He is currently president and CEO of News and Guts, an independent production company that he founded to make high-quality non-fiction content across traditional and digital platforms.
He remains particularly dedicated to fighting the disinformation, chaos, and division that have defined recent years in America: His most recent book is called What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, and his newsletter, called Steady, aims to “build a safe harbor in a sea of noise.”
For more than six decades, Dan Rather has brought his righteous passion, intelligence, boldness, humor, and commitment to the truth to the public arena, holding the most powerful to account and helping Americans to understand their nation and world. His life’s work has been to ask the questions that matter and to tell stories that matter. For that, the Peabody Board of Jurors is proud to honor Dan Rather with this year’s Peabody Career Achievement Award.