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TV Bulletin Board (Sept. 29) -- Rather's CBS lawsuit treated dismissively

Dan Rather's long and increasingly lonely $70 million lawsuit against CBS may have hit a final wall Tuesday when it was dismissed by a New York court.

Rather sued his old network in 2007, contending that CBS had breached his contract by eventually dropping him as anchor of the CBS Evening News after he presided over a 2004 60 Minutes II report alleging that George W. Bush had received preferential treatment while serving with the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War era.

Documents to that effect could not be fully authenticated, and Rather subsequently apologized on the air for the report. 60 Minutes II later was canceled.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court, overruling a lower court, said that breach of contract could not be established because CBS continued to pay Rather's $6 million annual salary during his remaining time with the network's news division. He left CBS in June 2006 after being little-used as a correspondent for the longstanding Sunday edition of 60 Minutes.

Rather's attorney, Martin Gold, said in a statement that he was "extremely disappointed" in the ruling and would appeal it to New York's highest court.

CBS, in its statement, said "the court agreed that this has never been anything more than a contract dispute and that Mr. Rather did not and could not plead that there was any breach of his contract."

Rather also has a fraud suit pending against CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.

"Based upon this unanimous decision by the appellate division, that final remnant will be dismissed as well," CBS said. "This lawsuit is now effectively over."

Technically it isn't, although Rather, 77, would seem to have scant hope of prevailing. Post-CBS, he anchors the weekly Dan Rather Reports for Dallas-based HDNet, which is helmed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.