CBS anchorman Dan Rather said today he has declined an invitation to be a panelist in Thursday’s presidential debate, saying he would rather report on it than participate in it.
In refusing to join the debate panel, Rather becomes the only network anchor not to participate in the nationally televised election encounters. ABC’s Peter Jennings served as a panelist in the Sept. 25 clash between Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and Vice President George Bush. NBC’s Tom Brokaw asked questions of vice presidential candidates Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle on Oct. 5. In covering those two previous events, Rather has gone out of his way on CBS to refer to them as “joint campaign appearances and not debates. In his statement today, Rather said the debate format was “not the best.” He did not elaborate.