'60 Minutes' Now Just Daring Lance Armstrong to Sue Them

The news magazine pushed back hard today at the cyclist's lawsuit threat

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It looks like Lance Armstrong isn't going to get that "categorical on-air apology" he wanted from 60 Minutes any time soon.

A day after the cyclist's attorney wrote a letter to CBS News chairman Jeff Fager calling the news magazine's May 22 segment on new Armstrong drug use allegations "either extraordinarily shoddy, to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit-and-run job," the network has one-upped them with a similarly hard-hitting statement pointing out inaccuracies in the attorney's own letter.

Even the we-stand-by-our-report boilerplate had a little extra bite to it. Writes Fager:

60 MINUTES stands by its story as truthful, accurate and fair. Lance Armstrong and his lawyers were given numerous opportunities to respond to every detail of our reporting for weeks prior to the broadcast and their written responses were fairly and accurately included in the story. Mr. Armstrong still has not addressed charges by teammates Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie that he used performance enhancing drugs with them.

Then Fager moved on to his three-part takedown of the letter's more specific claims. The second and third points, in particular, had a frighteningly thorough quality to them

2) The letter from Armstrong’s attorneys claims that 60 MINUTES was inaccurate in reporting about a meeting between Dr. Saugy, Mr. Armstrong and former U.S. Postal Team Director, Johan Bruyneel:

60 Minutes reported there was a meeting between Dr. Saugy, Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Bruyneel. Dr. Saugy refused our requests for an interview, but after the broadcast he confirmed that the meeting took place. Mr. Armstrong, after our broadcast, said he couldn’t recall that any such meeting took place.

3) Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers claim our story was “shoddy,” while we found at least three inaccuracies in their letter:

They claimed that 60 MINUTES reported the meeting took place at the Swiss lab; they claimed that 60 MINUTES reported the meeting took place in 2001; and they claimed that 60 MINUTES said it was a “secret” meeting. All three are wrong. David Howman, managing director of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told 60 MINUTES that any meeting between Mr.Armstrong, Mr. Brunyeel and the Swiss lab director, Dr. Saugy, would be “highly unusual” and “inappropriate.”

In other words, CBS News will see you in court.

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