Dan Rather loses $70 million lawsuit against CBS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York state appeals court on Tuesday dismissed former TV newsman Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS Corp in which Rather claimed he was made a scapegoat in a scandal over a 2004 report on then-President George W. Bush’s military record.

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather answers questions at the Cable Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California, in this July 11, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

The ruling by a panel of judges of the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division said Rather’s $70 million complaint should be dismissed in its entirety and that a lower court erred in denying CBS’s motion to throw out the lawsuit.

CBS said it considered the legal fight “effectively over” and put an end to its public dispute with one of America’s most influential broadcast journalists, who followed the legendary Walter Cronkite as the CBS Evening News anchor.

Rather’s lawyer, Martin Gold, said he planned to appeal.

Rather, 77, sued CBS, Viacom and others in September 2007, claiming he was being blamed to “pacify the White House” in the wake of a scandal over a September 8, 2004, report on Bush’s military record.

CBS was part of Viacom until the companies split in 2006.

In the story, which ran two months before the presidential election pitting Bush against Democrat John Kerry, Rather said Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War,

The network later acknowledged that documents used in the story could not be authenticated and Rather was removed as anchor of the “CBS Evening News” in March 2005 after 24 years.

Rather claimed in the lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, that CBS breached his contract and its fiduciary duty in part by not giving him enough on-air assignments after he was removed as anchor.

He kept reporting for the weekly news program “60 Minutes,” but was dumped by CBS in June 2006 after 44 years with the network.

The appeals court ruled Rather failed to sufficiently support his claim that he lost business opportunities due to CBS’s failure to release him to seek other employment.

Rather now produces an hour-long news program, “Dan Rather Reports,” for cable channel HDNet, available to viewers with high-definition TV sets.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Storey