CBS chief Leslie Moonves returned fire on Dan Rather today, calling his criticism of Katie Couric "sexist." In a telephone interview with MSNBC Monday, Rather had accused his unsuccessful successor of taking the nightly news and "dumbing it down, tarting it up." Rather cited Couric for playing up celebrities at the cost of war coverage.
While Couric's jump from day to night and from NBC to CBS initially engaged audiences, ratings began to slump soon thereafter. Moonves told an audience at Syracuse University he "absolutely" has confidence in Couric, the first solo female news anchor, and believes she will bring younger audiences to CBS. Moonves asked Couric's critics to "give her a break."