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What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

“Dan Rather, a longtime American television news anchor was returning from dinner at a friend’s Manhattan apartment on this day in 1986 when a man demanded, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”

Told he had the wrong person, the man punched and kicked Mr. Rather, still yelling the question. Mr. Rather dashed into a building and was rescued by a doorman and building superintendent.

The police chalked it up to mistaken identity. Some people wondered if Mr. Rather had imagined it. It was unclear if one or two men had attacked.

Meanwhile, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” became a U.S. pop catchphrase. The band R.E.M. wrote a song by that name.

In 1997, it emerged that William Tager, a North Carolina man in prison by then, was Mr. Rather’s assailant. In 1994, Mr. Tager had shot and killed a television stagehand, saying the media was beaming messages into his brain. Shown photographs, Mr. Rather recognized him.

Mr. Tager was released from prison in 2010. His whereabouts is unknown…”

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