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Robert Redford to play Dan Rather in 'Rathergate' movie

Robert Redford
Robert Redford
Photo by Mark Davis

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed in a Wednesday story that actor Robert Redford is slated to play disgraced CBS reporter Dan Rather in a film version of Truth, a film based on the 2005 memoir Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and The Privilege of Power.” The book was written by Mary Mapes, Rather’s producer who was involved in the so-called Rathergate scandal in which false documents were used in a 2004 story to advance the idea that then President George W. Bush had used his father’s influence to get into the Texas Air National Guard, thus avoiding service in Vietnam.

The documents were alleged to have been from the personnel file of Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Killian, Bush’s commanding officer, dated from 1972 and 1973. The documents were in short order revealed to be fakes by a number of bloggers who noted that they were printed using computer word processing fonts that were unavailable in the early 1970s. Both Rather and Mapes were eventually let go from CBS and it was widely concluded that the story was a hit piece to attempt to influence the 2004 presidential elections.

Mapes’ book, which was reviewed by the Weekly Standard at the time of its publication, insists contrary to all evidence that the documents in question were authentic and that Bush was a draft dodger. She blamed a vast right wing conspiracy consisting of conservative bloggers and Fox News for destroying hers and Dan Rather’s career and burying the truth. It can be safely assumed that the movie, which would star Cate Blanchett as Mapes, would also take that line. In effect it would be an attempt to rewrite history after the fact using the power of motion pictures.

Hot Air notes that the internal CBS investigation concluded that Mapes knew that the basis of the story was a lie from the very beginning. Mapes knew that far from being a draft dodging coward, Bush volunteered for service in Vietnam. He was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots.

Will the movie, should it be made, bring out these facts? Or will it adhere to Mapes’ version of the story? Considering Redford’s politics, one might be safe in concluding the latter.