Moonves stands by Couric

June 12, 2007 at 9:56 PM

NEW YORK, June 12 (UPI) -- CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves stood by his newswoman Tuesday, suggesting anchor Katie Couric has been the victim of sexist attitudes.

"I'm sort of surprised by the vitriol against her," Moonves said of the audience's reaction to Couric, who has presided over the network's lowest news rating in 20 years. Moonves said the number of people who "don't want news from a woman was startling," The Financial Times reported.

His comments came a day after former CBS anchor Dan Rather said on MSNBC's "Morning, Joe" program that his old network was dumbing down the news, NewsMax reported.

"I want to make clear that I have nothing against Katie Couric at all," Rather said. "However, it was clear at the time and I think it has become even clearer that the mistake was to try to bring the 'Today' ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up, in hopes of attracting a younger audience."

From a high of 13 million viewers at the onset of her tenure, Couric is now drawing fewer than 6 million and the "CBS Evening News" ranks last among major networks, the New York Post said.

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