This past Thursday the New York Times hosted a TimesTalks conversation moderated by New York Times Magazine staff writer Susan Dominus and featuring Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, Dan Rather, and Mary Mapes. “The full catastrophe,” as Zorba puts it. They discuss the film Truth, which opens commercially in New York this coming Friday, before a large and enthusiastic audience. I have posted the video below (about 90 minutes long); the Times has posted it at the link above.
I find this to be a striking cultural document. The event is festive and celebratory. Susan Dominus gingerly attempts at several points to inject a note of realism into the discussion, but she is brushed aside and appears to knows almost nothing beyond what the movie presents as the story; she obviously has not read the Thornburgh-Boccardi report. (I wrote Dominus via the Times email platform to ask her if she has read the report. She hasn’t responded. Based on the limited scope of her questions and comments, I don’t think she can have read it.)
Having seen the film, for example, Dominus professes herself troubled by Mapes having “left the door wide open for the right to drive through.” (Close that door! She’s a good Times reporter.) The assumption implicit in Dominus’s observation is that the authenticity of the documents was only arguably in issue; Rather protests her focus on the “technical” or “procedural” issues regarding the documents’ provenance and repeatedly stands by their “truth” along with the rest of the story.
Rathergate is one of the great journalistic frauds of all time. What is the New York Times doing celebrating and promoting it with this event honoring the film? Though Rathergate lacks the enormous human pathos and historical importance of Walter Duranty’s journalistic wrongdoing, covering up Stalin’s terror famine of the early 1930’s in the Ukraine, it’s up there in the hall of shame with Duranty. There is a closing of the circle in the Times event.
As I see the video, the audience has gathered to honor the gods and cast out the demons of crazed liberalism. The event partakes of something religious and creedal in nature. The lies of Truth have become articles of faith among the believers.
UPDATE: Susan Dominus has kindly responded to my email inquiry: “I certainly did read the Thornburgh-Boccardi report in preparation for the evening.”