06/20/2006 at 11:00 AM EDT
Broadcasting giant Dan Rather will leave CBS News after 44 years as anchor and reporter where he built a reputation as a hard-driving journalist known for his quirky turn of phrase, the network said on Tuesday.
"Of all the famous names associated with CBS News, the biggest and brightest on the marquee are (Edward R.) Murrow, (Walter) Cronkite and Rather," said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports.
"With the utmost respect, we mark the extraordinary and singular role Dan has played in writing the script of not only CBS News, but of broadcast journalism."
CBS News said it was working on a primetime special to mark Rather's career to be broadcast in the fall. CBS said Rather's contract was set to expire in November and that he had been unable to reach agreement on a new deal.
Rather has told The New York Times he is considering hosting and producing a news program for HDNet, a high-definition television channel owned by fiery Internet billionaire Mark Cuban's company.
But media pundits said in recent days the pending departure of Rather, 74, whose reputation was tarnished in 2004 by reporting a subsequently discredited report on President George W. Bush's military record, was an unceremonious end for one of the network's greats.
Rather's 50-year career in journalism saw him cover the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the civil rights movement and Watergate. He has written six books, anchored six presidential election campaigns and covered a dozen wars on five continents.
Rather's broadcasts were known for his quirky "Ratherisms," such as on election night 2004 calling the race "hotter than a Times Square Rolex."