The decision of a New York judge to allow former CBS anchorman Dan Rather's lawsuit against his old network to go forward is good news for everyone who wants to force the broadcast media -- which use the people's airwaves to reap billions in profits -- to reveal how they operate.
Rather is suing CBS to force open the files regarding the network's response to his efforts to investigate President Bush's record of military service. The veteran newsman's suit claims that the television network -- with which he worked for decades as a journalist, editor and anchor before being marginalized after he pursued a controversial story about Bush's failure to complete his Texas Air National Guard service -- made him a "scapegoat" in order "to pacify the White House."
CBS officials have dismissed the suit as sour grapes.
But New York Judge Ira Gammerman last week rejected the network's plea for dismissal of the suit. Gammerman ordered CBS to produce documents and determined that depositions of network executives by Rather's lawyers could proceed.
The decision, says Rather, "puts us on the road to finding out what really happened involving a big corporation and powerful interests in Washington and their intrusion in the newsroom."
That's a story that should be told. And Rather's determination to get it out has significance that goes far beyond his dispute with CBS, or even what people think about the man or his former network.
This is an essential struggle to illustrate the extent to which our media are manipulated behind the scenes by precisely the government, political and corporate interests that are supposed to be held to account by a free press.
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