I’ve lost my sense of humor about the Rathergate movie Truth. Watching the TimesTalks love-in with Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Dan Rather, and Mary Mapes aggravated my condition. I may need to take another lesson in Beatles harmony with Galeazzo Frudua to get right with the world. Another lesson or three.
NR editor Rich Lowry is helping me get some perspective this morning. Rich devotes his syndicated column to “the full catastrophe.” Rich’s column appears in the New York Post under the heading “Dan Rather’s Big Lie hits the big screen” in the New York Post and “Hollywood can’t handle the truth” at Jewish World Review. I think the latter heading must represent Rich’s own.
Rich hasn’t lost his sense of humor about it. Indeed, he has drawn on his sense of the ridiculous to capture what’s happening here:
There are many things that real people do to become the subject of sympathetic movies. Make a flawless emergency landing in the Hudson River with a disabled passenger jet full of passengers. Survive a devastating storm atop Mount Everest. Become the most lethal sniper in the history of the U.S. military.
Before the advent of the movie “Truth,” no one would have thought broadcasting a shoddy and immediately discredited report that ruined the careers of the journalists involved and gave their storied network a black eye would make the list.
“Truth” is “All the President’s Men” for reporters who botched their story about the president.
When Rich gets to Mary Mapes’s source for the fabricated documents that gave rise to the scandal, this also made me laugh:
The source of the documents, Bill Burkett, repeatedly changed his story about how he had come into possession of them. First, he said that they showed up in the mail; then, that he got them from a man named George Conn; finally, that an alleged woman named Lucy Ramirez hooked him up with a “dark-skinned man” at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Show (why not go all the way and say he found them on the grassy knoll?).
Rich takes note of the TimesTalks festivities and concludes:
Last week, The New York Times hosted a TimesTalks with the actors and the lionized journalists that was like a dispatch from another planet. In their telling, the implosion of the National Guard report is story of corporate cowardice (Viacom, the owner of CBS, couldn’t take the heat) and of politics triumphing over the facts — never mind the actual facts. Dan Rather actually says that the focus on the documents in the report being a forgery is a distraction.
In a better world, the bloggers who exposed the malfeasance of these seemingly untouchable mandarins of the media would be the ones to get the feature-length film. Not only did they uncover the truth — to borrow a term — they were plucky underdogs whose exertions to prevail against a broadcasting behemoth signaled the beginning of a new, more democratic era in the history of the country’s media.
But the victory wasn’t complete. What CBS couldn’t defend, the Hollywood left now seeks to rehabilitate.
Thank you, Mr. Lowry.
Whole thing here.