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TRUTH (review)


Written and Directed by James Vanderbilt / Starring Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford and Dennis Quaid

Mike Smith: You’re supposed to put yourself out…seek the truth and take what comes from it.

The Internet can be a scary place. If you’re in the public eye, it can hold your reputation in the palm of its fickle hand – one wrong journalistic move, and you face crucifixion. Especially when dealing with American politics.

In 2004, highly respected CBS producer Mary Mapes learned an extremely difficult lesson about politics and journalism…and about the importance of having your research methods be well above reproach when it comes to airing a very controversial story. 2004 being an election year, Mapes produced and ran a story for Dan Rather and the rest of the 60 Minutes team that centered on then-President George Bush and his service in the Texas Air National Guard some 30 years earlier. She had no idea what the fallout from that story would be. Once critics of the piece took to the web and aired their suspicions as to the validity of the evidence presented, CBS found themselves in the horrible predicament of either defending themselves with proof or apologizing for a grievous mistake.


Written and directed by James Vanderbilt (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and based on Mary Mapes’ memoir, TRUTH tells her side of the story. It explains how events following the broadcast first began to unravel and quickly snowballed into a catastrophic situation, leaving her to do nothing but try and defend herself, her production team, and their motives, which she insists were nothing but innocent. With a stellar cast (Cate Blanchett plays Mapes and Robert Redford is Dan Rather), TRUTH is a very informative (and entertaining) look at journalism in the age of the blogosphere. It’s also an impressive first crack at directing by Vanderbilt, who until now stuck to screenwriting. This may be his first effort, but it certainly won’t be his last.

4 sheep


Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Truth?



  1. Your review is more than kind to Mapes. Unfortunately, that makes your review biased and inaccurate.

    Let me recapitulate for you:

    1. It was a critical point in the election cycle.
    2. It was a very close election.
    3. Mapes and Rather released a completely fraudulent report designed to harm President Bush and influence the election.
    4. They got caught. And paid the price. And rightly so.

    As any informed person from that era knows, Rather and Mapes were exposed not by the “Right Wing Attack Machine,” but by a diverse group of independent bloggers and researchers. Tell me — how much mention, if any, does PowerlineBlog get in the movie?

    The media, overwhelmingly controlled by liberal interests, led from behind on the issue.

    In summary: Rather and Mapes failed in an obvious attempt to influence a Presidential election by fraud. They got caught, and the evidence is indisputable. Their only recourse, represented by Mapes’ book and this movie, is to posit an absurd conspiracy theory and to spread further lies about President Bush.

    • Hi and thanks for the feedback. I totally appreciate your view and would just like to clarify that I am reviewing the film, not judging the actual events. My description, while it may seem to take her side, is nothing more than a recap of what is presented in the movie. It’s based on her memoir and is obviously going to reflect her perspective. I am not being kind to Mapes…I am being kind to the filmmakers as I found their movie entertaining.

      • Good review. I supported President Bush but I understand the difference between reviewing a movie and history lessons.

  2. The fact the JamesInNashville is on the attack shows his apparent connection to the circumstances. He was there. He knows. Movies are about creating an opportunity for open discussion. They are about capturing emotions. Instead of attacking the author as having a liberal agenda perhaps one would take the time to read and think before one speaks.
    I enjoyed this movie. The performances were spectacular, the banter natural. I believe there are two definite Oscar considerations for this movie. Great job.

    • Hi TorontoGirl and thanks for your comment. I interviewed the director this weekend (more on that to come!) and I asked him about the “politics of doing a movie about politics”…did he have any reservations about making this film given what powerful tools movies can be? He smiled and said essentially what you just did – discussion, disagreement even, is a good thing. We can have completely opposing views and still find a middle ground to learn from each other. I don’t presume to know what Mapes’ intentions were, but I like that she was given a voice. If for no other reason than that we can learn more about what a nasty event this was (from both sides) and, as you say, talk about it. I very much liked this film and am glad you did too. And I agree – we could be hearing more about those lead performances in a few months!

  3. Thank you for the review.

  4. This is like a movie about Watergate in which Richard Nixon is the hero.

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