Exclusive: Dan Rather, as the oft-told story goes, went from being an unknown CBS runner to a rising star at the network with his dogged reporting in Dallas on the day President John F. Kennedy was killed.
Years later, in 1981, Rather was just settling into his role as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” when it very nearly happened again. “The Kennedy assassination, the shooting of Ronald Reagan, those were watershed moments for the Secret Service,” Rather told TVNewser in a telephone interview from his home in Austin. “Afterward, major adjustments were made.”
For the last month, Rather has been reflecting on those two defining days, and reporting on the current state of the Secret Service. The agency has been rocked by reports of serious security lapses, both at the White House and in the field as agents traveled with the president. The reporting–led by The Washington Post‘s Carol Leonnig–forced the director of the Secret Service to step down on October 1. “Hats off to The Washington Post, which has done, in my humble opinion, Pulitzer-level reporting on this story,” Rather told us.
Rather’s at work on his next AXS-TV special, “Dan Rather Presents: A Crisis Inside The Secret Service,” which debuts November 18th. Is the agency doing its job to protect the president? “I think the public should be concerned,” Rather said. “The facts speak pretty loudly here.” Rather’s reporting includes talking to contacts inside the agency, and an interview with Ralph Basham (pictured, above, with Rather outside the White House), a former director of the Secret Service.