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CBS' Zirinsky: Rather Included In Kennedy Assassination Special

Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of the CBS News prime time special kicking off its coverage of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, tells B&C/Multi that reporting at the time by former CBS newsman Dan Rather will definitely be part of the show.

Rather, who did not leave the network on amicable terms and wound up suing it, was not interviewed for the show, but he was integral to the original coverage, which will be reflected in the special, said Zirinsky. As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years, from the 48 Hours production team, airs Nov. 16, at 9 p.m.

"Dan was a big part of CBS' coverage in that historic time of the assassination," she said, "and of course he is in the coverage and, over the years, has been extremely eloquent and reflective of that event and CBS' role in history. Because I have that already captured in pretty amazing terms, that will be included in the show."

Rather provided the first CBS Network report that the President had died from his wounds — the CBS coverage had already included a local station (KRLD-TV) reporting the death, saying it was unconfirmed. The official report of the President's death was delivered on-air by Walter Cronkite.

Some question had arisen after CBS's description of the special in press materials did not include a mention of Rather, saying that the show would put viewers "in the moment with legendary anchor Walter Cronkite and journalism's iconic reporters: Charles Collingwood, Harry Reasoner, Charles Kuralt and Mike Wallace." Rather was obviously another of those iconic reporters.

According to the AP, Rather said he was concerned that CBS was going to "change the historical record" and "airbrush this guy out because we don't like him."

Zirinsky indicated that would not be the case. She said while she is still putting the program together — "As I like to say, 50 years and I am still 'crashing' the show" — "Dan is absolutely included in the special."