On this day, Oct. 4, in 1986, CBS News anchorman Dan Rather was attacked in New York City by a man who cryptically demanded to know, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”
Rather, then 54, was walking home from dinner on Park Avenue when he was punched from behind by two men in suits and ties. One of the men kept calling him Kenneth or Kenny, and bizarrely kept asking to know the frequency. The assailants were chased of by a doorman chased, and Rather was not seriously injured.
Rather got ridiculed over the bizarre account, which entered popular lore. In 1994, the band R.E.M. released the song, “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
The identity of the mysterious man had been unsolved for years, but Rather later said his assailant was the same man who shot and killed an NBC employee with a rifle near the Rockefeller Center studios in 1994. Rather identified William Tager after he was shown pictures of the man by the New York Daily News.
Tager, of North Carolina, said he believed the networks were watching him and beaming messages into his head.