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Cooper Tunes Into Rather's Frequency

If anyone doubts that CNN’s Anderson Cooper is the hippest news anchor ever, his "Celebrity Playlist" will set them straight.

Currently available for download at iTunes ($14.85, please), the 15-track mix will dazzle you with its wit and eclecticism as it skips from Nina Simone and The Clash to Yo La Tengo and Charlie Parker.

But Track 5 may stop you cold: "What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?"

The title of the REM song refers, of course, to a bizarre incident involving former CBS anchor Dan Rather. While walking along New York’s Park Ave. one fall evening in 1986, Rather was attacked by two men who punched and kicked him while repeatedly shouting, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"

Lest there be any doubt that Cooper gets the reference, his liner-note quip accompanying the selection says, "Might be tempting fate to pick a song inspired by the mugging of a news anchor."

We suspect Cooper was just being cheeky when he picked the song. But the choice is bitterly ironic, given Rather’s current downtrodden state. Not only was he unceremoniously dumped by CBS last week, but this fall, Cooper will begin contributing to 60 Minutes, where Rather was consigned after his early departure from the CBS Evening News (and which, the network now says, is just too crowded for old Dan).

Cooper was unavailable for comment, but we commend his sense of taste in one respect. At least, the young anchor who shot to fame for his coverage of storm-ravaged New Orleans declined to pick that perennial favorite from the German rock band Scorpions: "Rock You Like a Hurricane."