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Dan Rather identifies man who attacked him on street

Published Jan. 30, 1997|Updated Sep. 30, 2005

The mystery may be solved: Dan Rather has identified the man he says beat him up on the street in 1986 while demanding to know "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"

The CBS anchorman said his assailant was William Tager, now in prison for killing an NBC stagehand outside the Today show in 1994.

Tager was convinced the media had him under surveillance and were beaming hostile messages to him, and he demanded that Rather tell him the frequency being used, according to a forensic psychiatrist who examined Tager after the NBC shooting.

The turn of events apparently ends a weird mystery that inspired a hit song by R.E.M., What's the Frequency, Kenneth, and made the newsman the butt of jokes.

Rather was told by the psychiatrist, Dr. Park Dietz, that Tager was almost certainly his attacker. The anchorman identified Tager from pictures supplied by the New York Daily News.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this is the person," Rather said in Wednesday's Daily News.

Rather had been confronted at about 11 p.m. while walking on Park Avenue. When he tried to walk away, he was punched from behind in the jaw and knocked to the ground. The attacker then chased Rather into a building and kicked him several times in the back.

At the time, it was thought Rather might have been a victim of mistaken identity. But Dietz told the newspaper that Tager admitted attacking Rather after running into the newsman by chance and recognizing him.

Tager, 49, of Charlotte, N.C., later pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the slaying of stagehand Campbell Montgomery and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Tager was trying to take an assault rifle into the street-level Today studio at Rockefeller Center and opened fire when Montgomery pointed him out to police.

Dietz said he thinks Tager never called him Kenneth, and Rather has said he's not certain that was the word he heard.

Dog attacks Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace is accustomed to people baring their teeth in anger when he asks them tough questions for CBS' 60 Minutes.

But the veteran newsman got more than he bargained for recently when a snarling German shepherd came after him as he approached the Canadian home of a man identified by Jewish groups as a suspected Nazi war criminal.

Even though Wallace and his crew followed instructions and honked their car horn when they entered the long dirt driveway, the large dog, fangs bared, bounded toward them when they got out of the car.

"He made a pass at me," Wallace said. "He got my coat. He tore the coat. Right after me, he sank his teeth into the thigh of the sound man."

Fortunately, Wallace said, the man had a portable battery strapped to his thigh inside his pants. The dog was tied up, and Wallace conducted his interview standing in the snow at the farm outside Toronto.

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