Rather_9.21.jpgDuring a court hearing in Lower Manhattan this afternoon Judge Ira Gammerman allowed for the deposition of Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone and Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. Attorney General who, with Louis Boccardi, headed up an independent panel looking into Rather’s discredited “60 Minutes II” report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service.

The judge agreed with CBS’ argument that the deposition from Redstone, who is 86, be limited to no more than half a day. The court also reserved decision on CBS’s motion to dismiss Rather’s fraud claim. A CBS spokesperson tells TVNewser, “This is the fourth attempt in two years by Mr. Rather’s lawyers to present a legal claim of fraud to the court. We are confident it, too, will be dismissed.”

While not setting a date, Judge Gammerman indicated he is moving the case toward trial.

“It is now obvious that this is far more than just a contract dispute,” says Rather’s attorney Gary Meyerhoff. “It goes to the integrity of the gathering and reporting of important national news.”

The lawyers are due back in court Dec. 22.