CBS files to dismiss "far-fetched" Rather suit

Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:54am EST

Dan Rather speaks during an interview in New York, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Dan Rather speaks during an interview in New York, November 7, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Keith Bedford

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - CBS Corp. filed a motion Thursday to dismiss the $70 million breach of contract lawsuit filed against it by Dan Rather, calling the former "CBS Evening News" anchor's claims "far-fetched."

The 30-page motion seeks to dismiss Rather's lawsuit against CBS, its former Viacom Inc. parent, CBS president/CEO Leslie Moonves, CBS and Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, and onetime CBS News president Andrew Heyward. Rather alleged that he was scapegoated and put out to pasture following the "Memogate" scandal about President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era military record before the 2004 election.

"This lawsuit is a regrettable attempt by plaintiff Dan Rather to remain in the public eye, and to settle old scores and perceived slights, based on an array of far-fetched allegations," the network said in the motion, which was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"There was no such nefarious scheme, and Rather's allegations bear no resemblance to reality," CBS added. "CBS and its executives are not now, and never have been, out to get Dan Rather."

CBS said that Rather's claims aren't breach of contract but instead defamation, which has a statute of limitations of one year. Rather's lawsuit was filed September 19, 15 months after Rather left the network.

Rather had alleged that CBS broke his contract by not giving him enough air time after he left the anchor chair in March 2005; CBS said that it paid him and that's all it was obligated to do under the longtime terms of his contract, though it fulfilled the terms of his 2002 contract by assigning him as a correspondent to "60 Minutes II" and then "60 Minutes" after the previous show was canceled.

"CBS did not breach any obligation to Rather," CBS said. It also said that CBS, not Rather, had the right to determine what Rather would do on "60 Minutes," as well as what his so-called billing and his assignments would be.

In a separate statement, CBS said Rather was formerly "one of our most valued colleagues. That is why we at CBS are mystified and saddened by the baseless and self-serving allegations and distortions of fact raised in his lawsuit."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter