I’m presuming that James Vanderbilt‘s Truth, which Sony Pictures Classics will release sometime during the 2015 award season, will have its first showings in the early fall at one of the early September festivals — Venice, Telluride, Toronto — or at the New York Film Festival, which begins in late September. Last night I tapped out a quickie about whether Cate Blanchett‘s allegedly excellent lead performance as CBS News producer Mary Mapes will strongly compete with her already-seen-and-praised performance in Todd Haynes‘ Carol in the Best Actress realm. Who knows how SPC and The Weinstein Co., the distributor of Carol, will play their cards? A guy who’s seen Truth tells me that Blanchett’s performance is pure drillbit so it may come down to a matter of who blinks first.
One thing for sure is that when Truth starts to be seen the nutter right will dive again into that controversial, clearly flawed 60 Minutes segment and spread their usual bullshit. Aired on 9.8.04, the much-criticized segment led to the resignation of Mapes and other CBS News producers and executives in its wake, and CBS anchor Dan Rather the following year. It explored former President George W. Bush‘s dubious record of military service in the early ’70s, and leaned heavily on documents that allegedly came from the files of Bush’s commanding officer, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian. They claimed that young Bush, then in his late 20s, swaggered around like an entitled fratboy and at one point disobeyed a direct order to take a physical.
The righties (including HE’s own Correcting Jeff) will assert that the entire segment was inaccurate or invented, and they will be dead wrong and/or lying through their teeth when they do that.
The documents had been delivered to CBS from former Texas Army National Guard Lt. Colonel Bill Burkett. Soon after the 9.8.04 airing it was determined that the documents had been forged. There’s no question that using illegitimate documents to support a news story is a terrible strategy. And yet a week later Rather interviewed Marion Carr Knox, secretary of Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, and Ms. Knox said two things: (1) the memos shown by 60 Minutes on September 8, 2004 are not authentic and yet (2) the content of the documents was accurate.
The key defense or explanation here is in what Ms. Knox says in the above Rather interview. Credible journalism should never lean on a “bad documents, accurate story” rationale, but this is one of those times when such an explanation carries definite weight.
Mapes and Rather have always stood by the story, both basically saying that even if the documents are false the underlying story is nonetheless true.