This film didn’t stay in the theaters too long, but it deserved a better fate. It has much in common with “Spotlight,” although it’s not quite as good. Screenwriter and Director James Vanderbilt tells an interesting story based on the Mary Mapes’ book, “Truth: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power.”
Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett), the acclaimed Producer of “60 Minutes,” gets a tip about President George W. Bush, who, in 2004, is running for re-election. According to some documents she receives from Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach), George W. pulled strings to get into the Texas Air National Guard, in order to avoid being shipped off to Viet Nam, but then didn’t even serve much time in the National Guard either! Mapes is a progressive who jumps at the chance to hurt Bush in the re-election campaign. Due to time pressure to get the story out fast, Mapes and her team don’t do as thorough a job as they should have concerning the validity of these documents. They run the story on “60 Minutes II” with the top-rated evening news anchor, Dan Rather (Robert Redford), narrating the story. (Dan Rather is my 3rd favorite news anchorman – #1-Eric Sevareid and #2-Walter Cronkite – why not be controversial?) The story is a smash, but only for a day or two.
Serious questions immediately arise about whether the documents on which the story was based were genuine or forged. All the attention gets focused on the validity of the documents rather than whether the story was true or not. Did Mapes’ liberal political bias cause her to have a blindspot? A huge scandal ensues, nearly taking down CBS news.
The film has an excellent ensemble cast, including Elisabeth Moss, Topher Grace, and Dennis Quaid, who play parts of Mapes’ team. I’m not a big fan of Blanchett, but she was superb in this role.
I don’t know if Mapes’ version of these historical events is the “Truth,” but I’m not lying when I tell you that it’s a film worth watching.