News anchor Rather sues CBS for $70 million

US television newscaster Dan Rather filed a 70-million-dollar law suit on Wednesday against CBS, the network that made him a household name, saying it offered him as a scapegoat over a dubious report about the nation's president.

News anchor Rather sues CBS for $70 million
US television newscaster Dan Rather filed a 70-million-dollar law suit on Wednesday against CBS, the network that made him a household name, saying it offered him as a scapegoat over a dubious report about the nation's president.

The complaint, filed in the New York state supreme court, claims that top managers "openly violated Mr. Rather's trust in CBS, (and) intentionally marginalized him within the CBS organization" over a report on President George W. Bush's military record in the Vietnam war.

It alleges they violated the terms of his contract with CBS in the process.

"Mr. Rather believes these actions were driven by the defendants' political agenda to make Mr. Rather a scapegoat and intentionally tarnish his reputation," the journalist's lawyers said in a statement.

Rather, 75, became one of the most high-profile US television journalists.

In late 2004, in the thick of the US presidential election, Rather and CBS reporters were investigating Bush's role during the Vietnam war era.

The president was up for re-election, and an explosive CBS report showed what it said were documents proving that Bush was given preferential treatment as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, a posting, which spared him from active duty in Vietnam.

The allegations have long existed, but had never been proven.

Rather narrated the story when it aired on CBS on November 8, just six days after Bush was re-elected to office.

However the documents, said to have been found in the personal files of Bush's former commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Killian, could not be authenticated.

Rather was forced to retract the story 12 days later, and after an investigation four CBS employees were fired over the incident.

Rather was removed from the CBS evening news in March 2005, his reputation tarnished.

In the lawsuit Rather claims he was offered as the network's scapegoat to calm the ire of the White House. The suit also claims the network cut back his on-air time following the incident.

"These complaints are old news, and this lawsuit is without merit," said CBS spokesman Dana McClintock.

The lawsuit names the Columbia Broadcast System Corporation (CBS), its former parent company Viacom, Inc., and top executives Leslie Moonves, Sumner Redstone and Andrew Heyward.

Rather is "seeking damages for breach of contract, reputational harm, and fraud related to their unwarranted treatment" of the star anchor, according to the statement from his lawyers.

He also seeks "substantial damages, both compensatory and punitive, for the defendants' wrongful acts," and plans, if he wins, to donate the money to "causes that will further journalistic independence."

Rather, who first joined CBS News in 1962, won numerous awards over the years for his work.

He covered the assassination of president John F. Kennedy, the wars in Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan and both wars in Iraq. He was the main CBS News anchor during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Currently Rather is anchor of a television news magazine, "Dan Rather Reports," on the cable channel HDNet.

AFP
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2007, 16:00
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