“What’s the frequency, kiddies?”: Alleged Rather attacker wants to work with children



Back in March, I wrote about the release from prison of a convicted killer in New York State named William Tager.

Tager had plead guilty to manslaughter for the 1994 killing of NBC employee Campbell Montgomery outside the Today Show studios in midtown Manhattan.

After he was sentenced, the psychiatrist who examined him claimed Tager had admitted to another crime: the bizarre attack on CBS anchorman Dan Rather in 1986.

Rather was allegedly accosted by two unknown men who chased him into the vestibule of a Park Avenue apartment building and beat him while repeating the question, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”

No one was ever arrested in the case and, until Tager was linked to it, no one could explain it, either.

Shown Tager’s photograph, Rather told New York tabloids he was certain that he was the assailant. Whatever became of the putative second attacker, we don’t know.

But Tager was never charged for the attack and, contrary to Internet misinformation, has never publicly acknowledged his involvement.

In March, I filed a Freedom of Information request with the New York Board of Parole, hoping that Tager was at least asked about the Rather incident somewhere in the process. As it turned out, Tager never testified before the board. He was release based on written submissions and reports of correctional officials.

I recently received more documents on Tager’s parole that go into some detail about his killing of the NBC employee.

These detail parole board assessments of Tager  between 2006 and October 2010, when he was released.

Interesting to note is reference in the report to Tager’s admission to paranoid delusions involving newscasters.

He claimed that the reason he went to the “Today Show” building was because he thought he had knowledge that the network wanted. He stated that he thought the newscasters were sending him coded messages and were out to get him because be disagreed with their news reporting.

In the documents, Tager is said to acknowledge his guilt, which he credits to “mental instability.”

Though he studied electrical trades, plumbing and heating in prison, Tager told officials of a different vocational goal:

Inmate plans to work with children with emotional and disabilities. Inmate reports that he is currently studying courses while incarcerated to assist him with employment once released from state custody.

Unstated in the documents, again, is any reference to Rather and the attack that R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe described as the “premier surrealist act of the 20th century.”

Were I an enterprising newspaper reporter working in New York City, I’d locate William Tager and ask him a question: “Did you beat up Dan Rather?”

One thought on ““What’s the frequency, kiddies?”: Alleged Rather attacker wants to work with children

  1. What a great idea, to provide an early release to a convicted killer who was sentenced to 25 – life. Tager will be such a positive addition to society, especially working with children. I feel sorry for the family of Campbell Montgomery.

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