Those who dumb down the news, trivialize the news with in-studio shouting matches passing for debate, those who tart up the news with celebrity gossip, scandal and sensationalism are playing right into the hands of those that stand to gain the most from the news being seen as irrelevant and trivial and no more or less worth your attention than the next episode of 'American Idol.' [...] I worry that if it becomes no more than a reality show, something that could be scripted and rigged behind the scenes without anyone really getting upset about it, that our freedom of the press will become another one of those constitutionally granted rights that can be watered down and eventually taken away from us.
We've shared a lot in the 24 years we've been meeting here each evening, and before I say 'Good night' this night, I need to say thank you. Thank you to the thousands of wonderful professionals at CBS News, past and present, with whom it's been my honor to work over these years. And a deeply felt thanks to all of you, who have let us into your homes night after night; it has been a privilege, and one never taken lightly.
Not long after I first came to the anchor chair, I briefly signed off using the word, Courage. I want to return to it now, in a different way: to a nation still nursing a broken heart for what happened here in 2001, and especially to those who found themselves closest to the events of September 11; to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, in dangerous places; to those who have endured the tsunami, and to all who have suffered natural disasters, and must now find the will to rebuild; to the oppressed and to those whose lot it is to struggle in financial hardship or in failing health; to my fellow journalists in places where reporting the truth means risking all; and to each of you, Courage.
For The CBS Evening News, Dan Rather reporting. Good night.