CBS has banned advertisements for the film Truth, which stars Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as disgraced CBS News producer Mary Mapes, during the events of a notorious discredited 2004 news story regarding former President George W. Bush’s military service record.
Both Mapes and Rather were fired by the network over the story, which used questionable documents supposedly written by late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian to support a claim former President Bush deserted from the Texas Air National Guard in the early 1970s.
Rather has maintained the facts of the story to be correct.
The Sony Pictures Classics film is based off Mapes’ 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power, and releases Friday, Oct. 16.
The New York Times spoke with Sherri Callan, president of Sony advertising partner Callan Advertising, which sought a multi-million dollar ad buy to promote the film on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, as well as the CBS Evening News and several other programs.
Callan told the NYT CBS was not interested in running ads for the film, which the network has described as inaccurate.
“It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’ There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all,” a network spokesman said.
The person added: “The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”
Meanwhile, Dan Rather has endorsed the accuracy of Truth.
Brad Fischer, one of the film’s producers, told the NYT he was surprised by CBS’s assessment.
“I don’t think anyone expected them to send flowers,” Fischer told the paper. “To get an official statement from them that is negative was not surprising to anyone involved in the film. I think the one thing that surprised everyone was the tone and the emotional nature.”
Redford and Blanchett have been on rival networks NBC and ABC to promote the two-hour film, but have not been warmly received by CBS.
Redford was considered for an interview on CBS Sunday Morning, but the proposed spot was cancelled by Executive Producer Rand Morrison, according to the NYT.
Blanchett did end up making an appearance on Colbert’s Late Show on Oct. 8.