Dan Rather Legal Brief Displays Extreme Egotism

Reading the actual legal complaint in the Dan Rather lawsuit quickly (but repeatedly) reveals the extreme egotism of the disgraced CBS anchor. The first finding begins: "Plaintiff, Dan Rather, one of the foremost broadcast journalists of our time, seeks to recover damages from CBS, his employee of 44 years" for "CBS’s intentional mishandling of the aftermath" of the fake-documents story.

It added: "Throughout his career, Mr. Rather has promoted, championed, and been emblematic of journalistic independence and journalistic freedom from extraneous interference such as governmental, political, corporate, or personal interests. Defendants’ improper responses to the attacks on the Documents wrongfully damaged Mr. Rather and these values which he championed."

Rather’s brief still claimed "The Broadcast incorporated copies of documents written by Mr. Bush’s commanding officer" and complained of a vast right-wing conspiracy: "A broad, and in many instances well-organized attack on the authenticity of the Documents immediately followed the Broadcast, led by conservative political elements supportive of the Bush administration. The purpose of this attack was to deter CBS News from reporting news in a manner unfavorable to the Bush administration."

The complaint seemed to speak out of both sides of Rather’s mouth on the official CBS investigation, calling it a "biased investigation with controlled timing and predetermined conclusions in order to prevent further information concerning Bush’s TexANG service from being uncovered." The very next sentence states: "That investigation, controlled as it was, exonerated Mr. Rather."

Rather claimed that by being removed as anchorman in 2005, "the defendants sacrificed Mr. Rather’s journalistic integrity by falsely blaming him for alleged errors in the Broadcast." In the middle of the filing, Rather even claimed "Few, if any, of the blogs or media stories disputed the substance of the story that Bush received preferential treatment in connection with his Air National Guard service."

True to Rather’s titanic ego, the filing explicitly married the success of CBS to the amount of air time it provided Rather. His contract provided a "right to optimum exposure" since it was "important to CBS and Mr. Rather cooperate in enhancing such exposure so that CBS could benefit from Mr. Rather’s experience in and reputation for covering the news." It recognized "the obligations of CBS to maximize Mr. Rather’s television exposure for the mutual benefits of the parties."

Rather’s brief also claimed that he followed network directions "because he relied upon CBS’s false assurances tht it would fully utilize his services and provide him with the opportunity to restore his public image as a preeminent television journalist." He’s especially bitter about not covering Hurricane Katrina, since the filing boasts "Mr. Rather is the most experienced reporter in the United States in covering hurricanes" and had done so "throughout his long tenure at CBS, to much acclaim."

In outlining his charge of fraud against his bosses, Rather claimed that CBS boss Les Moonves and News president Andrew Heyward falsely assured him "that at all times CBS would take all necessary and appropriate steps to preserve and enhance Mr. Rather’s reputation."

It added in the next section that "CBS has continuously acted to Mr. Rather’s detriment by, inter alia, directing him to publicly apologize, and thus accept the blame, for CBS’s mishandling of the Broadcast, despite his blameless conduct."

Lawyer William Dyer, better known as Beldar has a more legal-oriented review of Rather's brief. He's not impressed at all either.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis