Dan Rather’s Lawsuit Shows the Role of the Republican Party in Inquiry

Most people wouldn’t remember it, but back in the heady days of the Republican rampage, when the G.O.P. controlled the White House, Congress and, some would say, the Supreme Court, the so-called “Liberal media” was bending over backwards to accommodate the Far Right and the then-perceived rightward shift in social attitudes. One of the casualties of that effort was the grand old man of network news, Dan Rather.

Mr. Rather first “stepped in it” when a “60 Minutes” segment of his was broadcast on a weekday edition of the program, which purported to have unearthed evidence about favorable treatment extended to President Bush during his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard. Needless to say, much Conservative wailing and gnashing of teeth followed. It wasn’t long before Rather was forced to step down as anchor of “CBS Evening News.”

Rather contended almost from Day One that CBS’ investigation into Conservative claims of Liberal bias in the Bush story was tainted and politicized from the beginning. In September 2007, he filed a $70 million lawsuit charging that CBS had violated his contract and that the investigation was compromised.

Well, today an article in the New York Times by Jacques Steinberg discusses how the core of Rather’s lawsuit is being allowed to move forward, reportedly because there is sufficient evidence of G.O.P. tampering. According to Mr. Steinberg …

When Dan Rather filed suit against CBS 14 months ago — claiming, among other things, that his former employer had commissioned a politically biased investigation into his work on a “60 Minutes” segment about President Bush’s National Guard service — the network predicted the quick and favorable dismissal of the case, which it derided as “old news.”

So far, Mr. Rather has spent more than $2 million of his own money on the suit. And according to documents filed recently in court, he may be getting something for his money.

Using tools unavailable to him as a reporter — including the power of subpoena and the threat of punishment against witnesses who lie under oath — he has unearthed evidence that would seem to support his assertion that CBS intended its investigation, at least in part, to quell Republican criticism of the network.

[read full article]

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