Dan Rather Amends Lawsuit After Networks Claim 'Too Much Baggage' To Hire

Dan Rather on Larry King (2006) Dan Rather on Larry King (2006)

Dan Rather has filed an amended lawsuit against CBS that says other TV networks refused to hire him because of the damage executives at his former company did to his reputation after a disputed 2004 report on President Bush.

Rather’s lawyer, Martin R. Gold, said new papers were filed because a judge said in April the initial lawsuit did not specify how CBS injured Rather in his occupation. The judge said the veteran newsman could submit an amended complaint.

Gold said the new papers, filed Wednesday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, detail the injuries that Rather claims.

Rather says he met with CNN, ABC, and NBC in 2006 to talk about employment after his departure from CBS, but they refused to hire him because he brought “too much baggage.”

The news anchor said that when he met CNN officials in 1997, they offered him $6 million a year to work for them. He said issues with his CBS contract, plus CBS’ proposed match of CNN’s offer, caused him to stay where he was.

In a spring 2006 meeting, court papers say, Rather met again with CNN executives and with ABC and NBC representatives. None would consider him, saying in various ways that the Bush story had generated too much controversy.

Rather and his agents also met later with Fox, A&E, History Channel, HBO, Discovery Channel and National Geographic television networks, court papers say, but all passed, saying he was “too hot to handle” or “words to that effect.”

Rather’s papers say he could have defended the Bush story, but, relying on CBS’ promises to defend him and extend his contract, he was “misled into remaining silent and unfairly taking the brunt of the blame for misconceptions about the broadcast.”

He left CBS on June 16, 2006, after more than 40 years at the network. He has since signed with HDNet, a cable network with limited distribution.

“Although now working, Mr. Rather’s (on air) exposure is dramatically limited and, accordingly, his reputation and standing in his trade and profession have not recovered from the damage caused by the defendants’ conduct,” court papers say.

CBS replied by saying: “Mr. Rather is trying to put forth fraud complaints that the court has already determined to be legally unfounded. We believe he will fail a second time. We will file an appropriate motion to dismiss.”

Rather, earning $6 million when he left CBS, said the network also caused him to lose other moneymaking opportunities, such as proposals for him to write books and anchor syndicated radio shows.

Rather sued CBS Corp. last September, claiming he was booted out of his evening news anchor post and given lesser assignments after controversy over a September 2004 “60 Minutes II” report about Bush’s military service.

The report, aired two months before the 2004 election, said Bush avoided Vietnam military service by using his father’s connections to get into the Texas National Guard.

Once in the National Guard, the report said, Bush shirked and failed to complete his duties.

A panel later formed to investigate the piece said the network “failed miserably” to authenticate the memos on which the story was based.

CNN is owned by Time Warner Inc., ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co., NBC is owned by General Electric Co., and Fox is a unit of News Corp.

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