Don Imus had his way with just the threat of litigation, so perhaps the former anchorman figures, why not me? It's a $70 million suit in which Rather claims that the network violated his contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after forcing him to step down as anchor of the evening news. He also contends that the network committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” and incomplete investigation of that controversial broadcast about President Bush's National Guard experience. The suit names as defendants CBS and its CEO, Leslie Moonves; Viacom and its executive chairman, Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News. Cool. We can only hope that this thing isn’t settled out of court, so all these characters can have at it. From the NYT:
For both Mr. Rather and CBS, the filing of the suit threatens to once again focus attention on one of the darker chapters in the history of the network and its storied news division, at a moment when it is already reeling. Mr. Rather’s successor as evening news anchor, Katie Couric, has languished in third place in the network news ratings since taking over the broadcast a year ago, behind not only Charles Gibson of ABC and Brian Williams of NBC, but also the ratings performance of the “CBS Evening News” in Mr. Rather’s final years. The portrait of Mr. Rather that emerges from the 32-page filing bears little resemblance to the hard-charging, seemingly fearless anchor who for two decades shared the stage with Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings as the most watched and recognizable journalists in America.
By his own rendering, Mr. Rather was little more than a narrator of the disputed broadcast, which was shown on Sept. 8, 2004, on the midweek edition of “60 Minutes” and which purported to offer new evidence of preferential treatment given to Mr. Bush when he was a lieutenant in the Air National Guard. Instead of directly vetting the script he would read for the Guard segment, Mr. Rather says, he acceded to pressure from Mr. Heyward to focus instead on his reporting from Florida on Hurricane Frances, and on Bill Clinton’s heart surgery. Mr. Rather says in the filing that he allowed himself to be reduced to little more than a patsy in the furor that followed, after CBS — and later the outside panel it commissioned — concluded that the report was based on documents that could not be authenticated. Under pressure, Mr. Rather says, he delivered a public apology on his newscast on Sept. 20, 2004 — written not by him but by a CBS corporate publicist — “despite his own personal feelings that no public apology from him was warranted.”