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Published: Friday, 11/16/2007

Katie Couric mocks Dan Rather in Web video, joking during pre-broadcast taping


NEW YORK Though battles between news anchors have historically been between rival networks, today's ripest feud is a purely CBS affair: Katie vs. Dan.

The rivalry took a humorous turn Thursday when a video was posted on the Web showing Katie Couric mocking Dan Rather while preparing to anchor a broadcast from Nashville, Tenn., last week.

While her CBS crew prepared for the Nov. 8 evening broadcast and makeup was applied to her, Couric mocked Rather. A video of Rather surfaced last month, showing the former "CBS Evening News" anchor obsessing over his appearance before a remote broadcast particularly questioning the wearing of an overcoat.

"I'm going to be like Dan Rather on YouTube," joked Couric, alluding to Rather by fiddling with her coat. "Geez, don't you think he deserves a little payback?"

She then added, laughing: "This tart is ready to go!"

Rather, who left CBS News in March 2005, in June referred to his successor as "a nice person," but 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."

The video of Couric (http://tinyurl.com/2w6y6a) was posted by comedian Harry Shearer on MyDamnChannel.com, a video Web site co-founded by Shearer. He also posted the video of Rather, taken from his anchoring days, last month (http://tinyurl.com/35jlva).

Jen Farley, a spokesman for CBS, would not comment on whether someone from the network had supplied the video. It could have come from any number of places, including CBS affiliates, which receive pre-broadcast footage.

"It was from an open satellite from a location in Nashville," said Farley.

The timing of the video coincides with a legal battle between Rather, who now does the show "Dan Rather Reports" for cable station HDNet.

Rather is suing CBS for $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages, claiming his bosses made him a "scapegoat" for the controversy that arose over a disputed story about President Bush's military service.

CBS on Thursday asked a judge to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against the network and its parent company, Viacom Inc., arguing that he waited too long to take legal action.

Rather didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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