Soon to come to a neighborhood theater near you is a film that has the nerve to call itself “Truth.”
Directed by James Vanderbilt and starring Robert Redford as CBS newsman Dan Rather, the film reportedly retells the story of Rather’s misbegotten effort to sink George Bush’s 2004 election campaign with last-minute revelations about his military service.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “Rather himself turned up at the [Toronto premiere] to praise the film’s accuracy and its (very sympathetic) portrayal of him.” No surprise there.
For those who may not remember, the 2004 incident all but killed Rather’s career. With the election coming down to the wire, Rather fronted a “60 Minutes” piece stating Bush lied about his military service.
Thanks to some bloggers in pajamas, however, the documents on which Rather based his report were proven to be fraudulent.
When Rather finally acknowledged the same, he famously attempted to salvage his reputation and the documents’ value by describing them as “fake, but accurate.” Until Redford and Valentine came along, no one was buying that line.
Jack Cahill’s brand new book illustrates how the neo-Puritan progressive movement came to mimic a religion in its structure but not at all in its spirit — order “Scarlet Letters: The Ever-Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism”
In fact, though, Rather has a long history of fraud. Three years ago, the Dallas Morning News ran a story about the death at 84 of legendary Dallas newsman Eddie Barker, the first reporter to announce on air the death of President Kennedy in 1963.
Deep in this very positive article was the tale of Barker’s feud with a young Dan Rather. Apparently, in the wake of the shooting, swarms of reporters flooded Barker’s KRLD newsroom.
Among them was Rather, the CBS regional bureau chief. Rather filed a story claiming that the children at Park Cities Elementary School were joyful upon hearing of the assassination.
Barker’s children attended the school and informed Rather the story was completely bogus. “He told me that he was going to drop the story, that they were not going to do anything with it,” Barker would later recall.
When the story aired despite Rather’s word to the contrary, said Barker, “I jumped him and told him to get the hell out of that newsroom.”
Dallas citizens would be haunted by that story for years to come. Unlike the residents of any other city in which an assassination took place – Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington, Buffalo – they would be held uniquely responsible for the victim’s death.
Military researcher B.G. Burkett discovered that Dallas was not the only fraud in which Rather had been involved.
Over the years, CBS had been doing its level best to misrepresent America’s involvement in Vietnam. In 1972, for instance, Walter Cronkite and CBS showed a now classic photo of a little Vietnamese girl running down the highway naked after a napalm attack.
As Burkett noted, this image “became the perfect illustration of America’s ‘indiscriminate’ napalming of civilians.” The incident took place, however, in June 1972, when almost all American ground troops had left.
Nor were any American planes involved or American advisers. The napalm was dropped by the South Vietnamese in response to a brutal Communist attack on a marketplace. After the war, the girl, Kim Phuc, fled to the West.
In 1988, Rather fronted a CBS documentary titled, “The Wall Within.” Its purpose was to reinforce the implicit evil of American involvement and the wreckage involvement made of the lives of the soldiers involved.
Among the veterans Rather introduced to the audience was “Steve,” a “Navy SEAL.” Said Rather to Steve, “You’re telling me that you went into the village, killed people, burned part of the village, then made it appear that the other side had done this?”
“Yeah,” said Steve. “For propaganda purposes at home?” asked Rather rhetorically. “That’s correct,” Steve confirmed.
Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Burkett obtained Steve’s military records. He learned that Steve was not a SEAL and had gone nowhere near a battlefield. Said Burkett, “Little that [Steve] had told Rather was true except that he had been in the Navy, and that his first name was Steve.”
Of the six men profiled in the documentary, it turned out that all of them had concocted the grisly incidents that had allegedly traumatized them. Some had not even been to Vietnam.
Yet when the men told the CBS producers and Dan Rather tales of assassinations, civilian murders and deaths of imaginary buddies, CBS aired their stories without checking and refused to retract or apologize even when confronted with the facts.
This was not unusual at CBS. From the days of the “legendary” Edward R. Murrow forward, Rather and his network preferred a useful liberal narrative to the facts of the story.
Bottom line: the only “Truth” moviegoers will walk away with is the word printed on their ticket stubs.
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