It's official: CBS and veteran anchor Dan Rather said Tuesday they are parting ways, ending Rather's 44-year career at the network. CBS did not specify a departure date, but Rather's contract is up in November. The network says the exact timing is up to Rather.
The two sides have been working on a new deal, but couldn't reach an agreement. Rather wanted an active role in 60 Minutes, while the network offered him an office and an assistant, but no defined place in its news operation. But Rather says he very much wants to keep reporting.
"My departure before the term of my contract represents CBS's final acknowledgement, after a protracted struggle, that they had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there," Rather said in a statement. "So I will do the work I love elsewhere, and I look forward to sharing details about that soon."
Rather has said he is considering offers from other networks, including Mark Cuban's HDNet, where he would host a weekly program and work on documentaries.
Rather has been working as a correspondent for 60 Minutes since stepping down as anchor of The CBS Evening News in March 2005 in the wake of fallout from a 60 Minutes II report on President George W. Bush's military service. Rather spent 44 years at CBS News and 24 years as anchor of its flagship newscast.
Also in his statement, Rather praised his CBS News colleagues, who he called the "true heart" of the network. "From producers, to correspondents, to technical crews, it has been my great fortune to have had some of the best pros in journalism at my back and at my side," Rather said.
For its part, CBS says it is preparing a primetime special on Rather's career that will be broadcast in the fall.
"Of all the famous names associated with CBS News, the biggest and brightest on the marquee are Murrow, Cronkite and Rather," CBS News President Sean McManus said in a statement. "With the utmost respect, we mark the extraordinary and singular role Dan has played in writing the script of not only CBS News but of broadcast journalism."