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Rather-Moonves: War Of Words

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Some juicy Dan Rather-Les Moonves point-counterpoint action — if you’re into that sort of thing.

First up, Rather, on Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News:

“You know, she tried to change networks, which is always difficult and change the programs at the same time. They’ve done all of the usual things. They changed the set. They changed the executive producers. They changed the graphics person, lately, forced out a guy who had been there, Ned Steinberg, for many, many years. They make all those kind of the superficial changes. I do want to say that, I think, under Rick Kaplan, that they have tried to harden up the broadcast in recent days, but that is a relative phrase, harden it up. That, you know, the trend line continues, as I say, dumbing it down, tarting it up, going to celebrity coverage rather than war coverage.”

Then Moonves at this morning’s breakfast with Ken Auletta:

Moonves called the remarks “sexist” and said he was surprised at the amount of negative coverage Couric was receiving. Couric, the first solo female news anchor, has been struggling in the ratings. “She’s been on the air for nine months. Let’s give her a break.”

Then Rather, today:

“It’s insulting and disappointing that Les Moonves, who know a lot about entertainment, would try to mask the real point of that comment. This isn’t a Katie Couric problem,” he said. “It has nothing to do with her gender.”

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