August 3, 2009 / 9:25 PM / 10 years ago

Rather sues to return CBS execs to $70 million suit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former TV news anchor Dan Rather sued CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward on Monday in a bid to have them reinstated as defendants in his $70 million lawsuit against the network.

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

In a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, Rather accused the two men of fraud relating to his claim that CBS made him a scapegoat in a scandal over a 2004 report on then-President George W. Bush’s military record.

“These are the two individuals who committed the crime on behalf of CBS and we’re holding them personally responsible,” said Rather’s lawyer, Martin Gold.

Rather claims CBS breached his contract and its fiduciary duty in part by not giving him enough on-air assignments after he was removed in March 2005 after 24 years as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”

CBS has appealed to have Rather’s entire 2007 lawsuit thrown out, and the appeal is being considered by the state appellate division.

“If anything, this latest tactic confirms that the whole charade is more a tiresome plea for attention by Rather than a serious lawsuit,” CBS said in a statement.

Moonves and Heyward were both named in Rather’s original 2007 lawsuit. But in April 2008, New York State Supreme Court Judge Ira Gammerman rejected Rather’s charge that CBS executives damaged his future job prospects, saying Rather could not support the claim.

Gammerman also threw out a fraud claim against CBS on grounds that Rather could not prove he had lost any income as a result of the network’s actions.

But last month, Gammerman accepted an amended complaint that once again included a fraud claim against CBS, after Rather’s attorney argued Rather’s income had been reduced by several million dollars following his departure from CBS.

Gold said he expected the claims against the executives to be reinstated for the same reason.

In its report on Bush, CBS later acknowledged that documents used in the September 8, 2004, story could not be authenticated. The network aired the report two months before the presidential election pitting Bush against Democrat John Kerry.

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

Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Beech

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