Former CBS anchor Dan Rather, who filed a $70 million lawsuit against the network on Wednesday, will donate most of any settlement he receives to journalistic causes, his lawyer said.
“Dan is bringing this lawsuit to restore his reputation. He’s not doing it for the money,” said attorney Martin Gold, who disclosed Rather’s intentions Wednesday night.
In his suit, Rather charged that he was made a “scapegoat” for a discredited 2004 “60 Minutes” story about George Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service because CBS wanted to “pacify the White House.”
CBS management “coerced” the newsman into taking personal blame for the story, according to the suit, which also names the network’s then-parent company, Viacom, and its chief executive, Sumner Redstone; CBS Chairman Les Moonves; and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward.
According to Rather’s suit, he “played largely a supervisory role in producing the story,” the Washington Post reported.
He also asserted that he was little more than a narrator of the broadcast.
Former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg, a critic of Rather, scoffed at his claim that he played only a minor role in putting together the story.
He told the Post that Rather is a great reporter, “but the dark side is that he’s unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility … This is the man who signed off his newscast with ‘courage,’ and now he’s alleging ‘they made me do it, they just put the words in front of me.’ This is ridiculous on so many levels.”
Jose Howard, who was forced to resign as executive producer of “60 Minutes” after the network retracted the story, agrees with Goldberg: “[Rather] did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone … He argued over every line in the script. It’s laughable.”
And for Rather’s chances of winning the lawsuit, Washington lawyer and employment dispute expert Lynne Bernabei said the suit is “a hard case to prove,” but Rather might be able to argue credibly that CBS breached his contract by minimizing his airtime after the story was retracted.
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