Toobin: Rather Suit Likely To End In “Crushing Disappointment”

By Gail Shister 

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

No matter what happens, there will be no winners in Dan Rather v. CBS.

So says Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s senior legal analyst and a former assistant U.S. attorney.

“Civil litigation is a nightmare. It’s a soul-killing experience, even if you win. The tediousness, the anger, the pettiness. It’s horrible to be in a lawsuit. They make everyone miserable.”

In Toobin’s view, plaintiffs expect vindication; defendants, absolution. Both fall short. It’s a lose-lose.

“Even when plaintiffs win, they are often horribly disheartened. The Rather lawsuit is likely to end in crushing disappointment, regardless of outcome. The legal system is messy, time consuming and expensive.”

Toobin labels Rather’s odds of winning his $70 million breach-of-contract claim as “an extreme longshot.”

A Harvard Law grad and New Yorker staff writer, Toobin is making the rounds to flog his newest bestseller, The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court.

Since the Court has changed considerably since Bob Woodward‘s The Brethren in 1979, Toobin says the timing was perfect for a new behind-the-scenes look at the Supremes.

Also, the ’08 presidential campaign “pushed me to do it. I knew the Court would be an issue.” With three liberal justices likely to step down in a few years, “the future of the Court is very much hanging in the balance at the moment.”

Despite the awesome power of a Supreme, Toobin says he’s never had the desire to be one.

“Never once in my life. It’s too sedentary. I like to move around. I don’t like the reactive nature of it. You only deal with cases that happen to land in your lap. I like the ability to choose what I’m doing.”