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Rather defends ignoring Levy story

CBS News anchorman Dan Rather has very publicly defended his decision not to report the evolving story about Chandra Levy and Gary Condit until Wednesday, arguing a lack of factual evidence prompted the choice.

"The facts were so few - you've got rumors, speculation, gossip and innuendo," Rather told WFAN's irrascible morning talk man Don Imus in a conversation aired on Thursday. "We decided, I decided, to exercise some restraint."

CBS correspondent Jim Stewart reported the FBI was moving the Levy investigation into its cold case department, a unit that handles investigations with no solid leads, and that it would start from ground zero.

While he conceded some CBS insiders felt he had misjudged the story, Rather said he and executive producer Jim Murphy decided to stay away from it until there was something more solid to report. "There's no criminal case, it's a missing-person case," Rather said.
"There's no suspect. No matter what anybody thinks of the congressman, before and after the disappearance of this young woman, the police have said repeatedly he's not been charged with any crime."

The veteran CBS anchor called the media reaction to the Levy case "a classic feeding frenzy." - Richard Tedesco