In filing a $70-million lawsuit against CBS on Wednesday, Dan Rather maintained that he had little to do with the report that resulted in his being removed as anchor of the CBS Evening News other than to read the script -- and that the network had set him up as a "scapegoat." Rather also indicated in his suit that he was "coerced" into giving an apology written by a network publicist that made it appear he had been personally responsible for the report's disputed contents on President Bush's National Guard service during the Vietnam War. And when that apology failed to pacify critics of the report -- especially those in the White House -- he was dumped as network anchor. Even then, Rather contended in his suit, he was treated as an embarrassment by the network, which gave him few assignments in his new post as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, and often aired his reports during holiday periods when viewership is low. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the network refused to send him to the scene, the lawsuit states, despite the fact that he "is the most experienced reporter in the United States in covering hurricanes." The network was motivated, the lawsuit said, "to keep Mr. Rather off the air." In an interview with the New York Times, Rather said Wednesday that he had filed the lawsuit in order to procure testimony on "what really happened" from top CBS and Viacom executives, including Chairman Sumner Redstone. "Let's get [them] under oath," he said. "Let's get emails. Let's get who said what to whom, when and for what purpose." CBS issued a terse statement late in the day saying, "These complaints are old news and this lawsuit is without merit." And in an interview with the Washington Post, Josh Howard, the executive producer of 60 Minutes II, which carried the discredited report (and who was fired in the fallout over it), said that Rather "seems to be saying he was just the narrator. He did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone. He was there in the room with the so-called document experts. He argued over every line in the script. It's laughable." In a separate interview with USA Today, Howard contended that Rather came up with the idea for the story. "I didn't assign it to him."




20/09/2007