Hollywood’s left-wing establishment, always eager to bash former President George W. Bush (“It’s all Bush’s fault”) and his fellow Republicans, has produced a movie titled “Truth” that’s anything but the truth. In fact, it should have been titled “False.”
“Truth” purports to re-tell the shabby story of former CBS News anchor Dan Rather’s messy departure from that network in 2004, a departure that involved dishonest reporting to accomplish a political objective — to destroy President Bush. But the story had just the opposite effect because it destroyed Rather’s illustrious career and banished his lead producer, Mary Mapes, to journalistic oblivion.
The story Rather and Mapes concocted accused Bush of fabricating his military record as a fighter pilot in the Texas National Guard. In a futile attempt to refurbish the journalists’ tarnished credentials, “Truth’s” producers cast aging Hollywood heartthrob Robert Redford as Rather and Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett as Ms. Mapes. It didn’t work.
“The movie is told entirely from Mapes’ and Rather’s perspective,” the Washington Post observed, “after the documents used in their report couldn’t be authenticated and were discredited.” In other words, Rather and Mapes fabricated their story.
CBS News issued a harsh statement: “It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth,’” said a CBS spokesperson. “There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy to enumerate them all,” adding the movie is “a disservice not just to the public but to journalists . . . who go out every day and do everything within their power . . . to get the story right.” Amen!
Rather, who still practices what he calls investigative journalism for AXS/TV, a network no one watches, continues to defend himself, arguing the facts in his 2004 “60 Minutes II” report were true even if the reporting process wasn’t perfect. Translation: The truth is whatever I say it is, which means I won the war in Grenada in 1983. Please hold your applause.
Minneapolis attorneys Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker trashed the movie and the New York Times in the neoconservative Weekly Standard.
“The Times provided its own form of encouragement to CBS” by headlining the story, “Memos on Bush are fake, but accurate,” they wrote. “In hindsight we can see that the Times got it half-right; the story was fake, but it was also inaccurate.” Oops!
Well, this is what happens when national newspapers and/or TV networks have political agendas in their newsrooms, which seems to be the pattern these days. We turn to Fox News for a right-wing version of what’s going on in the nation and the world and to MSNBC and several other “mainstream” networks for the left-wing version of those same events. Whatever happened to the separation of news and opinion I learned in Journalism 101 at the University of Washington in Seattle many years ago?
Johnson and Hinderaker accuse Ms. Mapes of pursuing the Bush/Texas National Guard story for five years, “longer than Captain Ahab pursued Moby Dick.” The Weekly Standard writers said the idea was to contrast Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry’s service in Vietnam with Bush’s record in the Guard in a conspiracy between Mapes and Kerry campaign staffers titled “Operation Fortunate Son.” That effort was supposed to counter Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who questioned Kerry’s record in Vietnam. “CBS had come to bury Bush, not to praise him,” Johnson and Hinderaker added. Let’s call it politics as usual.
Rather eventually issued an on-air apology before resigning from the network and Ms. Mapes disappeared from view until “Truth” surfaced last month. Fortunately, the whole thing is old news. On to the next “scandal.”
Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is a veteran journalist.
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