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Don’t Bet the Trailer Money Yet: Rather Lawsuit Moves Forward

Dan Rather

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Breaking: It looks like former CBS News anchor Dan Rather will indeed get his day in court. On Wednesday evening Justice Ira Gammerman of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan made a preliminary ruling denying the TV network’s motion to dismiss Rather’s $70 million lawsuit. “I think discovery should go forward,” said Gammerman. Rather’s suit, you’ll recall, claims CBS unfairly shuffled him off the air after that infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday story about Bush’s performance (or lack thereof) in the Texas National Guard. Rather alleges that being shown the door was just the network’s misguided attempt to placate the White House and shield CBS’s then-parent company Viacom from political fallout. You know, the usual reasons for dismissal from a high-profile media job.

Now that the case will be moving forward, Rather’s lawyer Marty Gold wants CBS to start forking over internal e-mails and documents to prove his case, including exchanges between network brass and the White House. Naturally, this has CBS lawyers asking the court to limit the scope of the discovery. “It seems pretty clear they don’t want to produce [the documents],” said Gold.

Looking weary from a case of the flu, Rather was relatively sanguine about the results (“It’s just the beginning”), but he expressed pleasure at the prospect of discovery. “I look forward to that,” he smiled. Afterward, his publicist asked if he wanted to go out for some hot toddies. He did. —Joe Hagan

Update: CBS has issued a statement, focusing on the possibility that the court will define the case by the contract dispute at its center, thus narrowing the scope of discovery. To each their own spin:

We are very pleased that the judge is seriously considering our motion to dismiss the case, and we eagerly await his decision on that motion. In that regard, the court indicated that portions of the lawsuit may not survive our motion to dismiss. In the meantime, the court has said that discovery can begin subject to agreement on its scope by the parties, which is standard procedure in this Court. We look forward to discussing with Mr. Rather’s representatives what that scope might be.

Related: Dan Rather’s Last Big Story Is Himself [NYM]

Don’t Bet the Trailer Money Yet: Rather Lawsuit Moves Forward