Andy Rooney Says Racist Commentary Circulating the Internet Was Not Written by Him

Andy Rooney has never been shy about his opinions, but now he's being bedeviled by somebody else's words being circulated under his name.

Rooney said on Tuesday that a racist commentary falsely attributed to him is circulating over the Internet and through e-mails. The "60 Minutes" essayist wants anyone who might have seen it to know he had nothing to do with it.

"I suppose it's not important, but I hate the fact that people think I've been writing these things," he told The Associated Press. "That's hurtful to me."

The missive, which Rooney said had been passed along to him via e-mail several times, is a list of several anti-minority statements. One of the printable ones: "I have the right not to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird or tick me off."

Because he's well known and has a clearly identifiable style, Rooney has been the victim of other such hoaxes in the past. Another commentary falsely circulated under his name praises the virtues of women over age 30.

"Someone on the street yesterday said `I read your piece about older women,"' Rooney said. "All I ever say is `I didn't write it and I'm trying to sue the guy who did."'

Rooney said he tracked down a Colorado address of someone who supposedly wrote the missive about older women. When in the state recently, he said he went to the address, only to find it was a post office box.

"I don't know what I would have done," said Rooney, who turns 88 next month. "Nothing physical."

Rooney is a frequent victim of statements falsely attributed to him and spread widely across the Net, along with George Carlin and Bill Gates, said Barbara Mikkelson, who runs a Web site devoted to tracking down urban myths and other scams.

Rooney is "almost a special case because he's widely regarded as a commentator who comments on the human condition," she said. "That's possibly why all these polemics get stuffed in his mouth.

"The only defense you have is to as publicly as possible say `it wasn't me,"' she said, "and that will never slow it down completely."

The CBS News commentator said he recognized there's a danger in giving attention to whoever is doing these things.

"My tendency, from having been a newsman for so many years, is if all the truth about everything came out, things are better."