Fake but Accurate? Film Offers Sympathetic Take on Rather’s ‘Memogate’

Robert Redford to play Dan Rather in adaption of Mary Mapes’ book.

How does liberal Hollywood spin a scandal which disgraced a veteran journalist and an award-winning producer?  Use a discredited liberal journalist’s take on it, of course. 

Sony Pictures has agreed to do just that by adapting Mary Mapes memoirs defending “Rathergate” into a major film called Truth. Mapes and Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes report based on likely forged memos about President Bush’s military record got both her and Rather fired from CBS in 2004. The Wrap reported this morning that Robert Redford will play Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett will play Mary Mapes, with Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Elisabeth Moss rounding out the cast. 

A 2004 60 Minutes expose by Rather and Mapes claimed that then-President Bush had used his political family to duck out of serving in Vietnam. There was only one problem – it turned out to be based on fake memos by a disgruntled source. Mapes and Rather’s hit job on Bush came just a few weeks before his re-election. Mapes and Rather unsurprisingly, held to their innocence over the years, and blamed conservative backlash for the investigation that got them fired.  Of course the film will draw from that defensive position in her 2005 memoir, “Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and The Privilege of Power.”

Redford is no newcomer to left wing political films either. His 2012 film The Company You Keep glamorized the left-wing terrorist group The Weather Underground. His 2007 anti-war movie Lions for Lambs was heavily hyped by the networks, though it bombed at the box office. Redford has also repeatedly made his politics known to the media by bashing conservatives and defending Obama

Of course it was no surprise then when Rather found out the casting choices he admitted to being “impressed” by Redford’s commitment to  “truth-telling investigative journalism.” Rather and Mapes still hold that they reported the truth to this day and have vented to various media outlets, even writing their own respective memoirs to attempt to clear their record. Unfortunately for them, the Killian Memos were called out as potential forgeries pretty quickly after the 60 Minutes report aired so Rather and Mapes have no legs to stand on-- unless it’s through a fictional story told by Hollywood.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.