The Rather Suit: Settlement a Likelihood
As characteristically strange and bizarre as Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS is, chances are high that CBS is going to give him some kind of concession, monetary and otherwise.
Neil Cavuto, host of FNC's "Your World" made this point earlier this week stating that CBS has no real alternative other than a long, dragged out court case that will rehash its worst corporate moment. He's right:
Dan Rather is going to win.
I don't know if he's going to get the 70 million bucks he's demanding from CBS.
But I bet he gets close to that.
Not because he deserves it... I'm not here to speak to that. But because CBS, in its media heart of hearts, can't be bothered with it.
In terms of the law, CBS has a strong chance that it can defeat Rather on the merits, especially concerning the disgraced anchor's claim that the Memogate panel was "biased." Dan's right in asserting the report was biased, but it wasn't against him. If you have a few minutes, read the the actual report--you'll find no evidence at all for its claim that "The Panel does not find a basis to accuse those who investigated, produced, vetted or aired the segment of having a political bias."
If there was a bias in the report, this was it. Dan Rather has such a long record of left-wing bias in his reporting my brother Greg and I spent four and a half years trying to keep up with it all at RatherBiased.com. Mary Mapes's actions since the release of the report demonstrate that she also is a rabidly liberal Democrat who is eager to do anything to damage conservative Republicans. Read the report and you will see zero evidence to the contrary.
If they don't know this already, CBS's attorneys soon will and it's only one of many defenses (here's another) the network can make against Rather's claim. Is it worth it to the network to take all of the CBS skeletons out of the closet in order to beat down Rather's nonsense? I don't think so. CBS will settle this suit in some fashion. Dan Rather is a broken man with nothing to lose. CBS still has a lot.
Update 16:20. BeldarBlog has more on how settlement is inevitable:
And that's why Rather's case — as incredibly, stinkingly, appallingly, cosmically bogus as it is — nevertheless has some considerable settlement value: Not because CBS is likely to lose to Rather if the truth is confirmed in court, but because individual decision-makers within CBS may have overwhelming vested interests in ensuring that the facts are not thoroughly probed in court.
By failing to fire Rather for cause, by whitewashing his personal responsibility while only firing others, and by enabling the shattered fragments of his journalistic reputation to keep stumbling along for almost two more years before he finally staggered away from the Tiffany Network on his own two feet, CBS has put Dan Rather in a position from which he may very well be able to effectively blackmail the network into a settlement. Rather may be saying to CBS: "I'm going to show how righteous I was, and that you were wrong!" But what CBS may hear (and justly fear) is: "I'm going to make you show how corrupt I was, and that will necessarily also show that you were right there in that corrupt bed with me."