Dan Rather, the longest-serving and most outspoken of the major network news anchors, recently served as the star attraction at a Democratic Party fundraiser.
Donors paid as much as $1,000 for a private evening in Austin with the CBS newsman. Rather's appearance at the March 21 gathering generated about $20,000 for the Travis County Democratic Party -- and will undoubtedly provide ammunition to critics who have long accused Rather of leaning to the left.
Rather said Tuesday that he hadn't realized beforehand that the event was a fundraiser. But the Texas native stopped short of calling his appearance a mistake or saying he would not have attended had he known in advance that he was being used to raise money.
Rather said he agreed to discuss election coverage at the invitation of an old friend, Austin City Council member Will Wynn, who drew 150 people to the event in his back yard. He was not paid for his appearance. Other hosts included Scott Ozmun, the county Democratic chairman, and Robin Rather, the anchor's daughter and a Texas environmentalist and marketing executive.
The Austin American-Statesman said Robin Rather is considering a run for mayor. The CBS veteran said he didn't know that his daughter was an official host.
Asked for comment Tuesday night, CBS News spokeswoman Sandy Genelius said: "Obviously our standards don't allow correspondents to participate in political party fundraisers. No one believes in this and upholds it more fervently than Dan Rather. This was an honest oversight on his part."
Rather has long disputed that he is a Democratic Party sympathizer.
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