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Rather's reporting during the national mourning period following the Kennedy assassination and subsequent events brought him to the attention of CBS News management, which rewarded him in 1964 with the network's White House correspondent position.
After serving as a foreign correspondent for CBS in London in 1965 and Vietnam in 1966, he served his second tenure as White House correspondent during the Richard Nixon presidency.
Success there (and a threat to bolt to ABC News) helped Rather pull ahead of longtime correspondent Roger Mudd in line to succeed Walter Cronkite as anchor and Managing Editor of CBS Evening News.
Rather assumed the position upon Cronkite's retirement, making his first broadcast on March 9, 1981.
However, teacher Joanna Morgan confirmed that students had cheered at the news that Kennedy was shot.
This story infuriated local journalists at then-CBS affiliate KRLD-TV (now Fox-owned-and-operated KDFW-TV).
In January 1988, he became host of the newly created 48 Hours and in January 1999, Rather joined the new 60 Minutes II as a correspondent.
While Rather had inherited Cronkite's ratings lead, the success of the Evening News with Rather at the helm fluctuated wildly.Shortly after, Rather was made chief of CBS's Southwest bureau in Dallas.In August 1963, he was appointed chief of the Southern bureau in New Orleans, responsible for coverage of news events in the South, Southwest, Mexico and Central America.Later he reported that some Dallas schoolchildren had applauded when they were notified of the president's death.Administrators said that the thrust of the announcement was that school was to be dismissed early (making the students' delight more understandable), and did not mention the assassination.Although he had no assigned reporting role in Dallas, Rather says he happened to be "on the other side of the railroad tracks, beyond the triple underpass, thirty yards from a grassy knoll that would later figure in so many conspiracy theories." His job was to fetch a film drop from a camera truck at that location and take it to the station for editing. He heard nothing of what may have caused the commotion until he reached KRLD, running all the way through Dealey Plaza, "The moment I cleared the railroad tracks I saw a scene I will never forget.