Dan Rather: John Paul Filo
Mickey O'Connor
November 23, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Dan Rather, who has manned the newsdesk at CBS Evening News for more than two decades, announced that he will be stepping down in March. ”I have always been and remain a ‘hard news’ investigative reporter at heart,” Rather said in a statement. ”I now look forward to pouring my heart into that kind of reporting full time.”

Rather, 73, said that he and CBS agreed this summer that he would give up the anchor desk some time after the election. In addition to field reporting, Rather will continue to contribute to both editions of 60 Minutes. His last broadcast will be on March 9, 2005 — 24 years to the day after he took over the job from Walter Cronkite.

The announcement comes just two months after Rather faced criticism for presenting a report for 60 Minutes that questioned President Bush’s National Guard service. The documents on which the story relied heavily were later alleged to be forged.

Rather’s NBC counterpart, Tom Brokaw, will step down as NBC’s Nightly News anchor on Dec. 2 after a similar two-decade-plus reign. Brokaw told Reuters that he was ”pleased for Dan that he’s come to a conclusion about his own life, as I have in my case.” Watch your back, Peter Jennings.

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