By his own rendering, Mr. Rather was little more than a narrator of the disputed broadcast, which was shown on Sept. 8, 2004, on the midweek edition of “60 Minutes” and which purported to offer new evidence of preferential treatment given to Mr. Bush when he was a lieutenant in the Air National Guard.So, his own actions, as he describes them, warrant the diminishment of his reputation. In which case, in asserting the basis for his lawsuit, he's diminishing his own reputation. Why then is he filing the lawsuit? You may say: for $70 million. But he has to win the lawsuit to get the money. And he has to pay his lawyers out of that recovery. Very expensive lawyers, too. Sullivan & Cromwell. (I used to work there.) And he's already dumped a lot of his own money into investigating the matter.
Instead of directly vetting the script he would read for the Guard segment, Mr. Rather says, he acceded to pressure from Mr. Heyward to focus instead on his reporting from Florida on Hurricane Frances, and on Bill Clinton’s heart surgery.
Mr. Rather says in the filing that he allowed himself to be reduced to little more than a patsy in the furor that followed, after CBS concluded that the report had been based on documents that could not be authenticated.
So, if it's not about getting money, what's it about? Well, there's this:
“I’d like to know what really happened,” he said, his eyes red and watering. “Let’s get under oath. Let’s get e-mails. Let’s get who said what to whom, when and for what purpose.”Who, what, when, and why... I get it. It's like reporting. Except you use the judicial process to force people to talk to you and produce documents.
(Hilarious photograph at the link.)
ADDED: A lawyer from Sullivan & Cromwell is quoted in the linked article, but that firm doesn't represent Rather. His lawyers are Sonnenshein Nath & Rosenthal, and here's the complaint -- courtesy of Beldar, who's writing about that case. On one point, he says:
.... I'm sorry, but that's so badly wrong as a matter of law that every one of the Sonnenschien lawyers whose name appears on this complaint ought to be sanctioned for making it...Also:
[I]fCBS has the guts to fight it — and that is an open question — CBS will win it. You can bet the ranch on it.