For twenty-four years, Dan Rather was the face of CBS News. During that time, he broke countless stories and reported on hundreds of world-changing events. Unfortunately, his career is remembered in some circles for only one: The Killian Documents Controversy. The broadcast was a complete fiasco, and now, it’s getting its own movie.
According to Deadline, the film will be entitled Truth. More importantly, it will star industry legend Robert Redford as Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett as his doomed producer Mary Mapes. It’ll be helmed by screenwriter James Vanderbilt, who will make his directorial debut. He wrote The Amazing Spider-Man and White House Down. Perhaps more importantly, he’s a descendent of railroad pioneer and visionary Cornelius Vanderbilt and a relative of The Silver Fox, Anderson Cooper.
It’s unclear exactly how wide the scope of Truth might have, but it will focus primarily on the lead-up to the September 8, 2004 broadcast of 60 Minutes, in which Dan Rather presented documents purportedly written by President George W Bush’s deceased National Guard superior that claimed he was given special treatment because of his powerful father. During the story, Rather claimed the documents were authenticated, but upon further review, they were not checked by experts, instead merely turned over by a Lieutenant Colonel named Bill Burkett who had some credibility problems.
Dan Rather and company stood by the story for a few weeks after the initial broadcast, but when a CBS review panel couldn’t authenticate the documents and other networks started claiming they were forgeries, Mary Mapes will promptly fired, several other key members of the news team were given the boot and the legendary newsman himself was gone within a year. It was a sad end for a proud man, especially considering Rather and Mapes really seemed to believe they were doing the right thing at the time.
It’s unclear whether Mapes has softened her stance over the years, but following her departure from CBS, she was still convinced the documents may have been authentic. That’s not an opinion shared by the majority of independent experts, but it’ll be interesting to see if it’s one shared by the film. It’ll reportedly take some of its direction from Mapes’ book on the scandal Truth And Duty: The Press, The President And The Privilege Of Power. It would be nice to hope for a balanced perspective that takes into account all of the angles, but that’s not always an understood you.
If all goes according to plan, Truth will begin shooting in the Fall. That would put it in line for a 2015 release, perhaps one around an award season that could see Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett and company ride the politically charged subject matter to glory.