Yesterday, it hit newswires that Dan Rather, long-standing anchor for CBS Evening News, had filed a lawsuit against the Eye Network, where Rather worked from 1962 through last June.
The complaint targeting executives with both CBS Corp. (CBS) and its one-time parent Viacom (VIA), seeks $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. The suit refers to a September 2004 story concerning President George W. Bush's servie in the Texas Air National Guard, the aftermath of which reportedly cost Rather financial loss and a tainted reputation.
The lawsuit claims that Central to the defendants' plan to pacify the White House was to offer Mr. Rather as the public face of the story, and as a scapegoat for CBS management's bungling of the entire episode ... CBS management coerced Mr. Rather into publicly apologizing and taking personal blame for alleged journalistic errors in the broadcast.
Rather was reportedly told he was losing his anchor position on November 3, 2004 the day after Bush won reelection. His last turn in the anchor chair was March 9, 2005. For the subsequent 15 months, Rather served as a correspondent, but he notes he was given few assignments and little airtime.
A spokesperson for CBS noted that These complaints are old news and this lawsuit is without merit. Yesterday, CBS dropped 4.1% and VIA shares lost 0.82%. Both stocks are trading slightly higher today.