Fired Producer Sues CNN Over Story
NEW YORK (AP) _ Five weeks after his former colleague settled her case, a second producer fired by CNN for the 1998 Tailwind story has filed a defamation and wrongful termination lawsuit against the network.
Jack Smith was fired for his role in reporting that the U.S. military used nerve gas on Vietnam War-era defectors. CNN retracted the story, claiming after an internal investigation that it could not verify its accuracy.
The story was a major embarrassment for CNN and its corporate partner, Time magazine, which printed a story based on the investigation.
Smith claimed that CNN fired him ``to appease high-level military officials.″
CNN would not comment on the lawsuit, filed Friday in Atlanta. In late May, the network settled with April Oliver, Smith’s Tailwind co-producer, on her lawsuit.
That settlement persuaded Smith to act, he said. He’s using Oliver’s lawyer.
The Tailwind fallout ``destroyed my journalism career,″ Smith said on Thursday. He now teaches journalism at two Chicago-area colleges.
``CNN management decided that the Tailwind report, about a covert operation 30 years ago, was not worth jeopardizing its valuable and lucrative contacts with senior military and Pentagon officials,″ the lawsuit states.
Smith asked for $6 million in damages and $100 million in punitive damages.
He may have a battle just to get his case heard. His lawyer, Roger Simmons, concedes there is a one-year statute of limitations for filing a defamation lawsuit, but Simmons said that should not apply in this case because a CNN Web site has continued to post the results of its investigation on the story.