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On Tuesday, disgraced former CBS anchor Dan Rather received the Peabody career achievement award presented to him by country singer Dolly Parton.
The award is usually selected by the Peabody Board of Jurors and given to individuals who “made an impact on the field of broadcasting and digital media and contributed to the course of American culture.”
“For more than six decades, Dan Rather has brought his righteous passion, his intelligence, his boldness, his humor and his commitment to the truth to the public arena,” Parton said. “His life’s work has been to ask the questions that matter and to tell the stories that matter.”
Jeffrey Jones, executive director of the Peabody Awards also complimented Rather for his “remarkable” career and an example of how “journalists serve democracy well.”
“Dan Rather’s remarkable career — from local news reporter and international correspondent to network anchor — is a textbook example not just of what quality reporting looks like, but how journalists serve democracy well,” Jones said. “Spanning over six decades, Rather helped viewers understand and interpret some of the most traumatic historical events in our nation’s history, from the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War to 9/11 and more.”
While the Peabody Awards lauded Rather’s achievements, they neglected to acknowledge Rather’s fall from grace in 2004. The then “CBS Evening News” host aired a piece that questioned President Bush’s service in the National Guard using allegedly forged documents. Rather was forced to apologize for the piece in a statement and announced that he would step down from his position a few months later.
However, the incident didn’t appear to hurt Rather’s credibility as other institutions continued to laude him as a reputable journalist. In December 2020, the University of Texas was ridiculed for introducing the “Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts” to honor journalists.
Rather accepted the Peabody award in a digital presentation.
“While I proudly accept this award for the body of my work, I also fervently hope that I have not seen my last dateline or deadline because I continue to be driven trying to tell the stories of our time,” Rather said. “The power of a free press is one of the great insurance policies on freedom, and it’s as vital now as it’s ever been.”