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New Film, 'Truth,' Dramatizes Dan Rather, '60 Minutes,' and 2004's 'Memogate'

By Mark Judge | September 14, 2015 | 2:41pm EDT
Dan Rather (AP)

“Truth,” a forthcoming film which dramatizes a 2004 controversy involving then-presidential candidate George W. Bush and journalist Dan Rather, recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival.  

The film stars Robert Redford and Cate Blanchette and depicts the 2004 fallout from reporting by Rather on the CBS show “60 Minutes." Two months before the 2004 election Rather (who is played in the film by Redford) produced six documents that allegedly showed Bush being sharply criticized and given favorable treatment by a military superior, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, when Bush was in the Air Force in the early 1970s.

The authenticity of the Killian memos was almost instantly called into question by journalists and bloggers. Robert Bluey, now the Editor in Chief of the Daily Signal, was a journalist for CNS News in 2004 and was one of the first to report on the documents. Bluey consulted typography and other experts who were not able to authenticate the Killian memos.

After increasing scrutiny from the media, on September 20 Rather stated, "If I knew then what I know now – I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.” CBS News President Andrew Heyward said, "Based on what we now know, CBS News cannot prove that the documents are authentic, which is the only acceptable journalistic standard to justify using them in the report. We should not have used them. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret." Unable to authenticate the documents, CBS ultimately fired “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes (played in “Truth” by Cate Blanchette) along with several other producers and apologized to viewers.

"I have certainly made some mistakes and have the scars to show for it, and many times it was my own fault,” Rather told the audience in Toronto after the screening, "But I hope this movie opens a dialogue about how we can get quality journalism and integrity to continue. Mary Mapes was one of the best journalists of her generation, and when you dedicate your life to journalism, you take part in something bigger than yourself."

He then added, "In news, quality and integrity matter."

Robert Bluey, the CNS News reporter who was one of the first to cover the story, gave a statement to CNS News: “More than a decade after Rathergate, it appears Dan Rather is still in denial about the story that ended his career at CBS News and badly damaged his reputation as a journalist. Instead of attacking those of us who pursued the truth about the Killian documents, Rather should take responsibility for his actions and stop making excuses.”

“Truth” is adapted from Mapes’ 2005 book “Truth and Duty: the Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.” The film was written and directed by James Vanderbilt and will be released October 16, 2015.

 

 

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