Dan Rather's CBS Lawsuit?

TBiddy's picture

This may seem like an odd topic to bring up on Typophile, but since a member of Typophile was actually involved in some capacity with the initial incident that spawned the lawsuit...I thought there'd be some opinions. So what do you all think? Is his lawsuit with or without merit?

Si_Daniels's picture

I believe all the paperwork pertaining to the law-suit was set on an IBM Selectric typewriter in Prestige Elite which was recovered from a skip outside the CBS offices in 1972.

William Berkson's picture

I don't think that Rather contests the fraudulence of the document in question. The issue is instead that he claims he was wrongly portrayed as deeply involved in the story, when he was largely just the narrator. And then he was made the fall guy. And the story itself, if not the document, was true: Bush was AWOL and a draft dodger.

It's probably foolish of Rather to sue, but I wouldn't be surprised if his claims turn out to be largely true.

ChuckGroth's picture

i believe his claims ARE largely true. he was made the fall guy, was marginalized, and had his reputation ruined. and his claim that CBS cowed to white house pressure... is that hard to believe?

Don McCahill's picture

When it happened I remember thinking that he was left hung out to dry. He's a newsreader, not a reporter. (And I was a newspaper reporter for nearly 10 years.)

I can't agree that "Bush was AWOL and a draft dodger". A draft avoider, for sure, though.

Diner's picture

I guess I compare this in part to the Don Imus thing from a contractual level . . .

The question remains was he fired or did he resign? If it is the latter, I wouldn't think he has much wiggle room to negotiate a settlement but if it was the former, chances are he would've had some clauses in in contract that requires some sort of financial buyout. . .

Personally I have no opinion on the reasons for dismissal, I'm only throwing in an opinion from the perspective of his contractual employment and make no mistake even network evening news anchors have contracts much closer to actors and singers than employees . . .

Stuart :D

blank's picture

I think Dan is losing it and needs to retire. CBS seems to have scapegoated him, but the network new division took a huge credibility hit as well—after all, most people realized that Dan was just a talking head and that plenty of other people were involved. Combine this with some of his crappier programs on Discovery—especially the no-class “Plastic Planes” scare piece—and it seems like Dan is having some pretty big senior moments.

ChuckGroth's picture

he's a respected news anchor and investigative reporter with forty years of experience.
my take is he shouldered some of the blame for the story (although he shouldn't have) and, ulimately left CBS to be a 'team player.' but when CBS CONTINUED to publicly shove the blame at him, ruining the rep he'd built over all those years, he finally decided 'enough is enough.'

Renaissance Man's picture

Katrina vanden Heuvel: The former CBS news anchor stands up for independent journalism and takes on big Corporate media.

Read more at http://www.thenation.com/blogs/edcut?bid=7&pid=235192

William Berkson's picture

>draft avoider

Yes, that is more exact. But he also apparently didn't report for duty later in his Air National Guard career. Probably AWOL is also an exaggeration, but it is a near relative.

Me, I'm rooting for Dan.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Me too. Anyone who thinks he's just a "talking head" never saw his work in Vietnam and as a White House correspondent.

(Met him in DC once -- a genuinely nice person to boot.)

TBiddy's picture

I wonder if Mr. Phinney has anything to add?
...Please? :)

William Berkson's picture

I saw the repeat of Larry King's interview with Dan Rather. Unfortunately, he won't concede that the document is fraudulent. He may be right that the contents are the views of the person who supposedly wrote it--this was confirmed by his secretary. But as Thomas showed, it is not from a typewriter, and so has been faked.

fontplayer's picture

This is a minority opinion among the people here, but just so you know, sympathy isn't unanimous. I just feel he is pathetic and sad for having sold out to a political party.

cerulean's picture

As who showed? Where is this demonstration? As I recall, the whole thing went like this:

"Look, it's in Times Roman, which didn't exist at the time! Clearly it was faked on a computer!"
"Times Roman was created in 1931."
"But there couldn't have been any typewriters that could print it!"
"Actually there were."
"Well... look, what's this? A superscript! There weren't any typewriters that could do that!"
"Sure, here's one."
"But... I bet the government never used that model of typewriter!"
"Yeah, they did. See, here are some official documents on record."
"But...uh...it's extremely unlikely that this one particular kind of typewriter was used in that particular department!"
"That's not how probability works."
"Hah, nothing to show me now, eh? The burden of proof is on you!"

Don McCahill's picture

> I just feel he is pathetic and sad for having sold out to a political party.

Where does that come from? I'm sure Rather would have been just as happy getting a scoop that exposed Kerry in a bad light. He is a newsman. That is the job.

> As who showed?

Actually, our friend Thomas Phinney was the one who showed pretty conclusively that the work was forged. You should look up his reports.

William Berkson's picture

An extensive review of the evidence concerning the memo is here. It includes an account of Thomas Phinney's analysis.

I'm afraid that Rather's credibility and the effectiveness of his case is going to be fatally compromised by his clinging to the claim that the document might be authentic.

TBiddy's picture

I’m afraid that Rather’s credibility and the effectiveness of his case is going to be fatally compromised by his clinging to the claim that the document might be authentic.

I agree, Bill. Resting too much on this evidence will help him greatly. I think he'll do better focusing his attention on how CBS treated him. Considering how much the media is having a field day bashing Katie Couric (with those internally at CBS also discrediting her) I would think it shouldn't be too hard to make that case.

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