By William Wolf


Robert Redford gives a fine and credible performance as television journalist and anchor Dan Rather in “Truth,” a compelling drama of the events that brought down Rather and “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes, flamboyantly played by Cate Blanchett. Tautly written and directed by James Vanderbilt, the film is based on the 2005 memoir “Truth and Duty” written by Mapes.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” has long been a prime, successful program delving into stories with generally unflinching boldness. One can imagine the excitement the engulfed Rather and Mapes when they came into possession of documents that supposedly proved George W. Bush was given preferential treatment that helped him escape service in Vietnam by getting a place in the National Guard, and even then not fulfilling his training duties. With the vetting they did, the “60 Minutes” team believed the documents to be authentic.

Normally, Rather and Mapes, and their team, which included a journalism professor played by Elisabeth Moss, might have taken more time for further exploration. But this being a potential election issue, the pressure was on to get the story on air quickly. When it turned out that there were serious questions about the documents, all hell broke loose.

The film dramatizes this with intense suspense, and it also shows how embarrassed CBS did not stand by the good intentions of their reporters, but made them the fall guys in the face of the accusations that their liberal bias led them to be reckless in accusing Bush.

It would seem that Rather and Mapes deserved better than losing their positions in view of their record and the urgency they faced from the network rushing to get their scoop broadcast in timely fashion. The film implicitly makes that point by virtue of the very sympathetic portraits by Redford and Blanchett. Posted October 4, 2015.


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