Gates on 60II: A Softer Side

Gates: Core Of Their Case Had No Merit

Microsoft mogul Bill Gates says he feels "a little bit guilty" about his lavish estate, which he claims is worth much less than some have estimated.

In an interview with 60 Minutes II to be aired Tuesday night, Gates discusses his family life as well as the Justice Department's suit that claimed Microsoft had misused its monopoly power. U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson last week issued a strongly-worded ruling last week in favor of the government.

CBS's timing of the interview couldn't be better, but it made for a lot more work.

Producers at 60 Minutes II spent Monday reworking a planned story on Gates following last week's decision. The story airs at 9 p.m. ET.

CBS had promoted it as a glimpse into the billionaire's personal life. The segment originally opened with Gates and correspondent Charlie Rose going to a Seattle hamburger joint and talking about what it's like to be the world's richest man.

But that approach has been scrapped in favor of a newsier opening that talks about the government's case against Microsoft, said Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes II

Rose called Gates after last Friday's ruling, but the segment doesn't include anything from him that hadn't been taped before last Friday's decision. Microsoft's defense against the charges hasn't changed, Fager said.

"We would have been in trouble if the judge had thrown the whole thing out," Fager said.

During the interview, Gates tells Rose he is spending less time at the office and more time with his family. "I'm sure the 20-year-old Bill Gates would look at the 43-year-old Bill Gates and say 'you're just not tough,'" he said.

Gates also attacks the government lawyers who prosecuted the case against Microsoft, accusing them of taking cheap shots: "They certainly knew that because the core of their case had no merit, that in order to create some fireworks, they were going to have to try and be as nasty as they could be."

Rose also talks to the government's lead attorney, David Boies, who disagrees with Gates. "What we're trying to do with this case is preserve the freedom of other companies to innovate...I think the proof is the consumers have been harmed and harmed in very substantial ways thus far."

Rose worked on securing the Gates interview for more than six months, Fager said. Although an interview that appears to humanize Gates when he is under fire plays into a Microsoft public relations strategy, Fager said CBS News pulls no punches.

"All of us have to keep our eyes open in terms of people trying to get on to further their cause," Fager said. "When isn't that the case? You just have to be smart about how you tell the story. This is not a valentine to Bill Gates."

The segment's timing wasn't coincidental. CBS knew its "60 Minutes II" piece would run either a few days before or after U.S. District Judge Thomas Pnfield Jackson issued his decision and also during a "sweeps" period in which TV ratings are closely watched to set advertising rates.