CNN has settled the lawsuit brought by Operation Tailwind producer Jack Smith over his 1998 firing.
Smith and co-producer April Oliver lost their jobs after the story brought criticism from the military and a report from reknowned First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams commissioned by the network concluded that the story was not sufficiently supported. The controversy damaged CNN's attempt to synergize its news network with its owner Time Warner's magazine properties and brought damage as well to the term of then - CNN US President Rick Kaplan.
The 1998 Valley of Death story alleged that during the Vietnam War the U.S. military took covert action against American defectors that included the use of nerve gas. CNN has settled or won dismissal on several of the myriad Tailwind claims, including one with Oliver believed to be in seven figures, although the terms of both Smith's and Oliver's settlements are confidential.
Both Oliver and Smith maintain that their story was well reported and accurate, and that CNN's mistake was to retract it. They have also been critical of Abrams' report, particularly for its input from a CNN lawyer who had helped vet their story.
- Dan Trigoboff