Dan Rather’s $70-million suit against CBS was dismissed as “old news” and “without merit” by a network spokesman today, but this chapter of the network’s history is destined to be dredged up again should the suit go to trial.
Imagine the discovery process: Rehashing the entire investigative methods that went into the 2004 “60 Minutes II” report on President Bush’s National Guard record, one that was discredited after it was revealed that memos related to Bush’s service could not be authenticated. Rather is alleging that CBS News’ investigation of the “60 Minutes” piece, an inquiry led by President George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General, Dick Thornburgh, was biased. So what is at stake is dredging up not just the “60 Minutes II” report, but the investigation of the “60 Minutes II” report.
One lingering question is: why did Rather choose now to file his suit, as opposed to last year, when he left; or the year before when he resigned as anchor? Having already settled with Don Imus, and facing lackluster ratings for Katie Couric, it’s another problem (or challenge) that the news division doesn’t need right now.