NEW YORK (AP) - CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves shot back at former CBS news anchor Dan Rather on Tuesday, saying his characterization of the network "tarting" up its newscast with anchor Katie Couric was "sexist."
Rather, speaking by phone on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program with Joe Scarborough Monday, said CBS had made the mistake of taking the evening news broadcast and "dumbing it down, tarting it up," and playing up topics such as celebrities over war coverage. The comments subsequently appeared in blogs and in a story published Tuesday in the New York Daily News and the New York Post.
While referring to his successor, Couric, as a "nice person," Rather said "the mistake was to try to bring the 'Today' show ethos to the 'Evening News,' and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."
Moonves, asked about the remarks at an appearance in New York sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, 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.
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