The former CBS star who has sued his former employer was on the phone at length with the Wash. Post's Howie Kurtz and laid out his case. He says he's fighting for "the red-beating heart of our democracy," journalism - just the kind of thing you'd expect him to say. But many of his friends think he's lost it, according to Kurtz - and based on Rather's comments, well, you have to wonder. He argues that he had little involvement in the story leading to his downfall - how George W. Bush received favorable treatment from the National Guard. But Josh Howard, the former executive producer of "60 Minutes II," said that Rather was deeply involved in the story, to the point of arguing over every line in the script. Here's more:
[Rather] said Andrew Heyward, then the CBS News president, pressured him by saying that he and his colleagues were a team and that an apology was important for the news division and for Rather's own reputation. Rather insisted to reporters on Nov. 23, 2004, that his decision to step down as anchor the following spring was entirely voluntary. But yesterday he said Heyward and Moonves, the CBS chairman, had called his agent 20 days earlier -- the morning after Bush's re-election -- and said that he had to relinquish the chair immediately. Rather wound up staying until March 2005, which he says is close to the time he had planned to step down anyway.
Across the television industry, executives are asking: why now? Why, when memories of the botched story are finally fading and Rather is trying to build a second career, would he declare legal war on his former bosses and dredge up the worst moment of his career? Here Rather wades deep into the weeds, talking about how a private investigator he hired dug up information on a "mystery man" -- an ex-FBI agent retained by CBS to look into the story once it came under fire. Rather said the network ignored this consultant's allegedly supportive findings and more recently, accused the former anchor of "harassing" the man. In the aftermath of the 2004 segment, Rather said, he wanted to keep investigating the Guard story himself, but CBS executives "shut it down."