With Dan Rather’s stint as news anchor coming to an end, a CBS affiliate in northern Michigan has been taking an online poll this week on whether or not it should air a network tribute to the veteran reporter.

But after more than a day and a half of voting, the station today decided to scrap the poll and air the program in its entirety.

The survey at WWTV-WWUP in Cadillac, Mich., began Monday night. Spokeswoman Tessia Klix had said the station decided to ask the question after being inundated with “negative feedback” about Rather, who has been under heavy fire since broadcasting a story questioning President Bush’s National Guard service – a story which turned out to be based on fabricated documents.

By yesterday afternoon, with more than 1,000 people taking part, 63 percent had voted against airing the tribute, titled “Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers.”

But in a complete reversal, the station has yanked the survey, and decided to show the program.

A statement has been posted on the affiliate’s website by its general manager, William E. Kring:

At WWTV-WWUP/TV, 9&10 News, we believe that the role of a local television broadcaster is to serve our local community. We offered our online poll concerning the airing of the Dan Rather special as a way to let our Northern Michigan viewers voice their opinion.

Unfortunately, this simple act of broadcasting localism has been grossly misinterpreted. We were simply trying to maintain the great tradition of local viewer input that is the foundation of our modern day broadcasting system. It was never our intent to embarrass Mr. Rather or the CBS Network.

We have always valued our over 50 year relationship with the CBS network and look forward to many more years of our affiliation.

Therefore we have suspended the poll and will broadcast the program in its entirety.

We apologize for any misunderstandings our actions may have caused.

Ironically, the station is continuing to show a photo of Dan Rather on a television screen, with an adjacent headline, “Northern Michigan Decides.”

Meanwhile, Newsday in New York just began its own online poll about Rather, asking, “Will you miss watching Dan Rather on the evening news?”

In early voting with 146 responses, over 56 percent say, “No. With so many other ways to keep up with the news, I rarely watched him.”

More than 43 percent say, “Yes. He was such an institution, it will seem strange not having him on in the evening.”

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