My friends at PowerLine, one of the sites crucial to exposing 2004’s RatherGate, have already done the yeoman’s work in detailing the seemingly unlimited number of lies told in “Truth,” a “jerk store” flop, hysterically desperate to rewrite the history of a black eye that forever scars CBS News. Knowing it was a propaganda piece, I was sure I would hate “Truth.” The exact opposite ended up being the case.
Man, I had a blast.
Politics and propaganda aside, writer/director James Vanderbilt’s adaptation of fired and disgraced “60 Minutes” producer Mary Mapes’s 2005 memoir “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power,” is not a very good movie. With a reported budget of less than $10 million, there is nothing cinematic about anything.
“Truth” looks, sounds, and feels like a television movie. Despite the presence of Cate Blanchett as Mapes and Robert Redford (too lazy to even dye his hair black) as Dan Rather (along with Topher Grace, Dennis Quaid, and the great Bruce Greenwood in support roles), the acting isn’t even all that impressive. That’s not the fault of the actors. Propaganda does not make for fleshed-out characters or believable dialogue. All-in-all, Greenwood (as CBS president Andrew Heyward) and Quaid come out best.
What’s so delightful about “Truth” is watching what ended up being a seminal moment of my life from the perspective of the fraudsters. Watching these partisan leftists take countless ethical shortcuts to get their George W. Bush hit-piece on the air just weeks before the 2004 presidential election, and then watching it completely fall apart, along with their careers — there just isn’t enough popcorn in the world.
Using fraudulent documents, hyper-partisan witnesses, and sources who were obvious lunatics, Mapes, Rather, and CBS News attempted to take down a sitting president. Quite spectacularly, it all blew up in their smug, left-wing faces, and this is something “Truth” allows us to enjoy from the center of the front row.
Naturally, using lies of omission and commission, the third act is all about redeeming these partisan grifters, but when you remember “Truth” disappeared with less than $3 million at the box office, the fact that this revisionism ended up being all for nothing delivers its own kind of pleasure.
When I say that Rathergate was a seminal moment in my life, I don’t in any way mean that I had anything to do with the brilliant online work done by others to expose the fraud. I did not. After more than a decade of pointlessly screaming at my television set, what Rathergate did do was show me that through the Internet, through this exotic thing called a “blog,” there was a forum where the average citizen could actually do something about this country’s (still) hopelessly corrupt political media.
Although many years behind the true genius-pioneers of the online world — Matt Drudge, Andrew Breitbart, and the like — I was finally inspired to get off my ass and take a professional risk. Twelve years later, I have never looked back.
And I’m not alone. RatherGate inspired what Blogfather (another online pioneer) Glenn Reynolds calls “An Army of Davids” to jump online, to directly and relentlessly challenge our hideous media. Since, the world has never been the same, and as a direct result, the DC Media has never been less trusted or less relevant.
There is one moment in “Truth” that speaks volumes about the world Before RatherGate (BR) and the world after (AR).
After all the work and scrambling and ethical shortcutting is done, the phony hit-piece against President Bush finally airs on “60 Minutes II.” As the segment unfurls its audacious lies, the movie cuts to the half-dozen or so partisan journalists, including Mapes, who cobbled together this takedown.
Oh, the satisfaction on their smug faces.
This might be the only part of the movie that’s true, because BR the leftists at “60 Minutes” enjoyed the last word.
Before the Internet, no one had the power to watch the Watchmen. The fix had been in for decades. The DC Media was and is still one big, monolithic-thinking, cabal of left-wing liars. Although they “compete” through different outlets, because they all share the same partisan goals and once had the power to bottleneck information, as long as the target was “correct” (like a George W. Bush), a Mary Mapes knew that none of her fellow bottle-neckers would even want to question her story.
Certain they still lived on Planet Cronkite, of course Mapes and her Merry Band of Degenerate Liars felt smug that night. In the Precious Beltway Bubble, they had no idea that Planet Cronkite had already exploded into a million citizen journalists; they had no clue that CBS News had launched a campaign of lies in the world of AR, and that a long overdue reckoning was coming.
Because there is a God and He loves us, RatherGate hit at the exact right moment when the technology was in place to power the Davids. Our mission is nothing less than to grind the DC Media into ash. We have a long way to go, but much of the work that has already been done would not have been possible without the Revolution unwittingly launched by Mapes and Rather.
Quite accidentally, “Truth” captures that moment, and I can’t wait to point and laugh at it again.
“Truth” is available in all kinds of formats at Amazon.com.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC