The movie Truth, which opens in theaters on Oct. 16, 2015, will arguably irritate CBS News’ by showing the true events that led to the downfall of its investigative journalists, Mary Mapes and Dan Rather. According to media reports, all parties involved in the Sept. 8, 2004 report on President George W. Bush’s alleged evasion of military duties with the Texas Air National Guard, seem to disagree with the truth the movie portrays.
“We reported a true story,” Rather told The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. He added that there was no shred of doubt to any “reasonable person’s mind” that the story was factually correct. The 83-year-old veteran news anchor also wrote on one of the social platforms endorsing Truth as a true story that will broaden debate on the role of “investigative journalism in our democracy.”
Rather rose through the ranks at CBS, and established himself as a top-notch journalist. Together with his producer, Mapes, they formed an almost indestructible partnership as investigative journalists, who hounded world leaders for accountability. Their exposure of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in spring 2004 lifted them to the apex of investigative journalism before tumbling to the bottom after failing to provide sources for the 60 Minutes II program that aimed at exposing President Bush’s alleged military evasion during the Vietnam War.
CBS News did not liked the movie based on Mapes’ memoir. In a strongly worded statement, CBS said, “It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’” The corporation went on to say that the movie has distortions and “baseless conspiracy theories” that seek to elevate “gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom.”
It is quite clear that the James Vanderbilt’s directed film will be heavily contested as to its accuracy. Sony Pictures has come to the defense of its production. In a statement, the corporation acknowledged the public interest the movie has generated, but reiterated that CBS News should not be the final arbiter of the film’s accuracy. Instead, the news outlet should let people “see the film and judge [it] for themselves,” rather than hastily extinguish public debate over the events that led to the making of the movie.
In a response to an inquiry by Variety, Mapes accepted the critique that suggested she might have made personal mistakes. However, she was quick to point out that CBS was much more interested with their “reputation” rather than the “complexities of journalism and the search for… truth.” She maintains that her dismissal was the result of political maneuvers by the Bush team that was fighting for a second term in the White House.
Ordinary citizens have also been drawn into the debate. Craig Teller of University of California, Los Angeles, wrote in a recent post that the truth of what really happened at CBS will never be known. He is of the view that the reporters working under Mapes’ supervision were probably “duped by unknown parties with unknown motivations,” who then leaked the story to the “Bush people.” According to him, they then created “another set of documents and a different story,” that worked against Mapes and Rather. If this is the truth, then perhaps all parties are unaware of it.
The Truth, which stars Cate Blanche as Mapes and Robert Redford as Rather, attempts to narrate the events which led to the questioning of sources used on the Sept. 8, 2004, 60 Minutes II program. After failing to verify the authenticity of the memos that purportedly alleged Bush evaded military duties in 1972, Mapes was dismissed and Rather resigned in January 2005. James Vanderbilt directed the film. The movie also showcases Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, and Dennis Quaid. The clip below shows Rather at the prime of his career together with his producer as they get ready to interview an Abu Ghraib inmate.
By Shepherd Mutsvara
Breibart News: CBS Offers Withering Assessment of the Rathergate Movie ‘Truth’
Huffington Post: ‘Truth,’ the Movie: When Truth and Power Collide
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Truth’: Movie Reignites Heated Debate over ’60 Minutes II’ Scandal
Image Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons Licence