Comedy Central's Jon Stewart won his second Peabody Award, for his satiric take on the 2004 election campaign, while HBO's Western "Deadwood" also won.
The George Foster Peabody awards, for broadcasting excellence in both news and entertainment, are given by the University of Georgia. Thirty-two awards will be handed out at the ceremony May 16.
The controversy over CBS's discredited story about Bush's National Guard service played no part in the judges' determination that the Abu Ghraib report on "60 Minutes II" deserved honor, said Horace Newcomb, Peabody Awards director.
"We feel that this story stood on its own merit," Newcomb said. "It was really an important moment in television this year."
The Abu Ghraib story aired last April, while the story about Bush's military service ran in September. Mapes was fired in January 2005 and Rather was admonished for his role in the Bush story.
Stewart's show, which also won for its "Indecision 2000" coverage, "provides the kind of cathartic satire that deflates pomposity on an equal opportunity basis," judges said.
CNBC won its first-ever Peabody for an insider's look at Wal-Mart, and the networks Trio, Link TV and Univision were also first-time winners.
HBO won three awards. Besides "Deadwood," the pay cable outlet was honored for "Beah: A Black Woman Speaks," a biography of actress Beah Richards, and "Something the Lord Made," a documentary about two men who fight racial prejudice doing pioneering work on heart surgery in the South in 1944.
HBO's sister company, Cinemax, won two awards for documentaries.
The Peabodys also gave a rare individual award to Grant Tinker, former NBC chairman who was cited for fostering "creative opportunities that led to some of television's most exciting work - and workers."
The winners were announced at the Museum of Television & Radio. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia has administered the Peabodys since the program's inception in 1940. CBS "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer will be host of the 64th annual awards ceremony at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
By David Bauder