Dan Rather Sues CBS
Former news anchor says he was unfairly dumped
The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, comes as a startling postscript to the saga that dominated the news division three years ago, when a political furor erupted over a piece Rather anchored about President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard, later found to be based on unsubstantiated documents.
In the wake of the controversy, a producer was fired and three executives were forced to resign. Six months later, Rather stepped down from the anchor chair of "CBS Evening News," a year shy of his 25th anniversary in the job.
His lawsuit, first reported on the New York Times website, claims that CBS and its former parent company, Viacom, violated the terms of his contract and sought to tarnish his reputation and restrict his abilities to seek work in order to contain the political fallout from the story. The complaint names CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward as defendants.
According to the complaint, "Central to defendants' plan to pacify the White House was to offer Mr. Rather as the public face of the story, and as a scapegoat for CBS management's bungling of the entire episode -- which, as a direct result, became known publicly as 'Rathergate.' "
CBS dismissed Rather's claims.
"These complaints are old news and this lawsuit is without merit," the network said in a statement.
Rather made it clear he was unhappy with the terms of his departure when he left the network in June 2006, saying that "after a protracted struggle" CBS officials "had not lived up to their obligation to allow me to do substantive work there."
The veteran newsman, now 75, currently anchors a weekly program on HDNet.