Dan Rather Sues CBS for $70 Million

Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather sued the network for $70 million.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:29 AM

Sept. 19, 2007 — -- Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather sued his former employer today for $70 million, claiming that the company failed to properly investigate the handling of a discredited story on President Bush's National Guard service and did not give Rather enough airtime -- in violation of his contract.

Rather claims that CBS marginalized him within the network and intentionally sought to tarnish his reputation because of its own political agenda.

The suit was filed against the network, its corporate parent Viacom Inc., and three of his former bosses: Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner Redstone, CBS News CEO Leslie Moonves and Andrew Heyward, former president of CBS News.

The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, claims that CBS and its executives made Rather "a scapegoat" in an attempt "to pacify the White House."

CBS said in response that "these complaints are old news and this lawsuit is without merit."

Rather declined, through his law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, to comment on the case.

The lawsuit centers around the National Guard report and how CBS treated him during and after the fallout from the report.

Rather says in his suit that Redstone made it clear that a Bush victory would be good for Viacom and that it was "important to Vicacom to have good relations with the Oval Office."

The former anchor also says he was silenced from making public statements to defend his reputation because CBS made several promises to him -- which he says never materialized -- in exchange for his silence.

They include a contract extension and a promise that if Rather hired his own private investigator to look in the National Guard story that CBS would share any of its findings with the investigator.

Rather's lawyers said that in the summer of 2004, Rather and CBS agreed on a contract extension that would end his tenure as anchor and keep him on as a full-time correspondent for "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II." He would be paid approximately $24 million for his work through June 2010. The contract was never put in writing.

Essentially, they said, this was no way to treat the face of the network.