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AWRT Slams Rather Over Comments

American Women in Radio & Television (AWRT) Wednesday expressed its "deep disappointment" in Dan Rather's comments that CBS was "dumbing down" and "tarting up" the evenening newscast now helmed by Katie Couric.

Rather was taken to task by CBS chief Les Moonves, who called them sexist, after which Rather said that his comments

had nothing to to with gender

and everything to do with the blurring of the line between news and entertainment.

AWRT President Maria Brennan wasn't convinced. "While Mr. Rather may wish to backtrack on the sexist nature of his remarks," she said in a statement Wednesday, "I can only note that never have I heard the word 'tart' in reference to the male gender."

“It’s surprising – to say the least – to have someone with r. Rather’s experience make such deliberately inflammatory remarks about a professional colleague – particularly one with the credibility and accomplishment of Katie Couric," she said. Couric is a member of AWRT, a professional organization that promotes and encourages women's participation in the media.

After an initial boost in the ratings, the Couric-led newscast has dropped precipitously in the ratings, though Moonves has said the network is committed to it. “She’s been on the air nine months,” he said recently, “let’s giver her a break.”