Rather a Bad Idea
Dan Rather has spent a lot of time trying to redeem himself after stepping down from CBS News for reporting a false story about George W. Bush's military record. (A failed $70-million lawsuit against his former employer didn't do the trick.) Now he'll get an assist from Robert Redford, set to play the disgraced news anchor in a feature film.
Redford appeared in this summer's Captain America movie as a villainous, Rumsfeldian Secretary of Defense, bent on destroying our civil liberties. Cate Blanchett will reprise her Oscar-winning role as a neurotic high society castaway as Mary Mapes, whom CBS fired for her role in "Rather-gate" and who's been waging a one-woman jihad ever since.
Predictably, she's found a receptive audience in Hollywood's liberal time warp, where Bush is still president.Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power, her paranoid tale of a conspiracy by Republicans and business moguls to undermine her, will serve as source material for a screenplay by White House Down writer (and Vanderbilt family child of privilege) James Vanderbilt.
It's easy to see this one as a Harvey Weinstein release, if it adheres as closely to the inaccuracies that got Rather fired in the first place. As The Hollywood Reporter describes the story, months before the 2004 presidential election Mapes and Rather let fly on “60 Minutes” that "George W. Bush had received special treatment while serving in the Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, a report that was based on some documents that were suspected to be forgeries."
The documents are suspected to be forgeries the same as Santa Claus' shopping list. According to rival network NBC, experts soon concluded they were computer-generated, as opposed to products of 70's-era typewriters; the secretary of Bush's National Guard squadron said they were fake; and Rather's source turned out to be a crackpot who had tried to sell his story to reliable professionals before settling on Mapes, and finally admitted he lied about finding the material in a trash can.
Prior to resigning his job at CBS, Rather issued a public apology for the episode, saying he made a "mistake in judgment" but "in the spirit of... investigative reporting without fear or favoritism.” But the Bush White House cited reports there had been coordination between Rather's source and John Kerry's rival 2004 presidential campaign.
Even Jonathan Alter in The New York Times panned Mapes' retelling of events, which Democrat media sympathizers hoped would be a "swift-boating" of Bush -- the term they invented to excuse what had befallen Kerry when his Vietnam buddies accused him of slander and helped scuttle his election hopes.
Alter describes Mapes as "out of her depth" at the time and in her book successful mostly at presenting "a lesson (often unintentional) in how not to put together an investigative piece." That would put her in good company with her new partners, who will spend millions -- but not many research hours -- producing another excuse for a true story in a line of liberal flops.