In 2004, television news powerhouse Dan Rather and his producer Mary Mapes "killed modern journalism" when they broke a story regarding then- U.S. President George W. Bush’s military record. When the authenticity of their material was brought into question, it created a public firestorm which subsequently cost them their careers.
This movie is tough for outsiders. Without knowing the full weight of Rather’s profile, it’s hard to gauge ‘Truth’s’ impact. It’s also possible that, like myself, you only became aware of this now infamous tale because of season two of 'The Newsroom'. Laugh if you must, but it’s true. Outside of the U.S. "Rather”, “Mapes”, “CBS” - hell even “George Bush”, to a degree - are not buzzwords for us. So why should be care about this film? Well, as the title suggests, to discover the truth. And the truth is always compelling. Never a legal matter but a corporate and political one, the furore this story made became a trial by public, pushed by CBS’s competition. Now it’s time we got the whole story.
Not long after breaking the Abu Ghraib story, producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) wanted to investigate rumours that a young George W. Bush received preferential treatment in the 1970s to get into the National Guard and thereby avoided the Vietnam War. The crown jewel in Mapes' and her team’s story were military documents that were difficult to authenticate, but with a tight deadline they pushed through the doubt and aired the story. The piece gained national attention as it was aired in the midst of an election, and once it did the internet did what it does best, and tore it to shreds, questioning everything, particularly the documents. When some of these questions were found to have serious merit, the shit really hit the fan.
A film like this - taking on the title ‘Truth’, no less - you know you’re going to get hit with a lot of information hard and fast. Certainly a compelling story, you sometimes fell drowned in the onslaught of names, dates, places, military jargon and information. The stellar cast, lead by Blanchett and Robert Redford as Rather with Denis Quaid, Elizabeth Moss and Topher Grace as the investigation team, help to keep our heads above water. However, during one of the film’s inquest scenes Mapes makes an eleventh hour speech, and while it does what it’s meant to do - your resolve to be on Mapes' side, which we have been the whole time - it also creates more questions than answers. These questions that now haunt the audience put the film’s title under scrutiny, wondering whether or not it should actually be called 'One Side of the Story'.