A few thoughts on and clips from the NY Observer piece about Josh Howard potentially suing CBS.
Mr. Howard, those sources said, has hired a lawyer to develop a breach-of-contract suit against the network. Ms. Murphy and Ms. West have likewise hired litigators, according to associates of theirs, and all three remain CBS employees and collect weekly salaries from the company that asked them to tender their resignations.
None would agree to participate in this article.
Legally, CBS and the ousted staffers are in an unusual stalemate: The network cannot be sued for breach of contract unless it actually fires them. Theoretically, the network could refuse to offer an apology or correct statements and simply drag its feet, continuing to write paychecks to the trio until their contracts expire. (Neither side would discuss how long the contracts are scheduled to last.)
But CBS could always cancel 60 Min Wednesday, it’s been speculated they would many times even before this. That would end the whole issue. I’ve not seen their contracts but I’m sure if the show you’re working on gets cancelled you’re out of a job.
And this jumped off the page:
There are also questions remaining about the way the report itself was assembled. No one at CBS has taken credit for determining the format of the investigation , which excluded recording devices or transcripts of interviews with the 66 people who were involved in the segment. No written record exists of Mr. Howard, Ms. Murphy, Ms. West or Ms. Mapes telling their side of the story to the investigative panel. None were allowed to take notes or voluntarily speak under oath.
This is poorly worded, so I’m not sure what it means. Did the panel not have transcriptions or just not the people being interviewed? Taken as written, it sounds like the panel interviewed 66 people about thousands of details with a precise emphasis on a timeline but did not have a transcript from which to work… I find that implausible.
If there is no transcript at all, then the panel should be sued! (I have a gut feeling this might be important as this story unfolds)
All things considered, unless the facts have been greatly mischaracterized, I’m not sure Howard has much of a case… It sounds like he was way too timid before the story ran as well as after. For his part, Howard maintains there was exculpatory information excluded from the panel’s report. It is things like that claim that will have bloggers all over this one.