Former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather has filed a $70 million lawsuit against CBS, its corporate parent and three of his former superiors.
The move comes 15 months after Rather’s career at CBS News ended over his role in an unsubstantiated report questioning President Bush’s Vietnam-era National Guard service.
The 75-year-old newsman claims that CBS violated his contract by giving him insufficient airtime on “60 Minutes” after it had forced him to step down as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005.
In the suit filed Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Rather also maintains that CBS committed fraud by commissioning a “biased” and incomplete investigation of the Sept. 8, 2004 Guard broadcast and “seriously damaged his reputation.”
Rather charges that CBS and its executives made him “a scapegoat” in an attempt “to pacify the White House,” according to the New York Times, and he quotes the executive who oversaw his regular segment on CBS Radio as telling him in November 2004 that he was losing that slot because of “pressure from ‘the right wing.’”
The Guard broadcast on the midweek edition of “60 Minutes” ostensibly offered new evidence of preferential treatment given to George Bush when he was a lieutenant in the Air National Guard.
CBS and the outside panel it commissioned concluded that the report was based on documents that could not be authenticated, the Times reported.
The lawsuit names as plaintiffs CBS and its chief executive, Leslie Moonves; Viacom and its chief executive, Sumner Redstone; and Andrew Heyward, the former president of CBS News.
The suit seeks $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
Rather now leads a weekly news program on HDNet.
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