CBS responds to Dan Rather suit

Network files motion to dismiss $70 mil claim

Dan Rather’s $70 million lawsuit against CBS is “a regrettable attempt…to remain in the public eye, to settle old scores and perceived slights, based on an array of far-fetched allegations.”

So says CBS in a motion to dismiss the suit filed Thursday in New York Supreme Court.

CBS’ 25-page response to the breach of contract suit filed by Rather in September states that the former “CBS Evening News” anchor’s claims against the network, its CEO Leslie Moonves and former CBS News chief Andrew Heyward “bear no resemblance to reality.”

Rather’s suit stems from the scandal that erupted in the wake of the September 2004 “60 Minutes II” segment that relied on questionable documents in claiming that President Bush received preferential treatment during his service in the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s. In the wake of the report, three CBS News execs were forced to resign and the producer who worked with Rather on the seg, Mary Mapes, was fired.

Rather’s suit contends that CBS breached his employment contract by failing to give him sufficient air time and failing to assign him high profile news stories after he ankled the “Evening News” in March 2005 and was assigned to “60 Minutes II” and “60 Minutes.”

CBS’ motion maintains that the Eye fulfilled all of its obligations to Rather under his employment contract and scoffs at the notion that Moonves and Heyward waged a campaign to discredit Rather and damage his reputation. Motion also derides as baseless Rather’s claim that CBS was eager to give the boot to Rather, a frequent target of conservative commentators, in order to “curry favor with the Bush administration.”

Among the tidbits included in the CBS filing is that succession planning for Rather’s departure from “CBS Evening News” began in 1997. And per the motion, a 2002 amendment to Rather’s contract with CBS gave the network the right to remove him from “Evening News” as of Dec. 31, 2002.

Rather at present is the host and producer of an investigative news series on HDNet, “Dan Rather Reports.”

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