Even nigh 7 years out of office and liberals and leftists cannot leave George W. Bush alone. Bush Derangement Syndrome must be an incurable lifetime dis ease.
On the heels of 2010’s “Fair Game”, Hollyweird comes out with another progressive’s fantasy, attempting to reinforce a discredited narrative. A leftist movie, made by leftists, for leftists and BDSers. Narrative recap:
Vanderbilt’s film is based on Mapes’ memoir, Truth and Duty: The Press, The President, and The Privilege of Power, so it provides a very sympathetic portrait of Rather (Robert Redford, charming) and his longtime producer Mapes (Cate Blanchett, electric).
The action opens in April 2004, with the chummy team of Mapes and Rather—she calls him “Dad,” he treats her like a daughter, reminding her to eat when she’s stressed—receiving acclaim for the airing of their exclusive 60 Minutes segment detailing torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Mapes, daughter to an abusive father, is portrayed as an intrepid firebrand eager for a juicy Dubya story to follow-up the Abu Ghraib bombshell. She first looks into the bin Laden family’s ties to George H.W. Bush’s Arbusto, before setting her sights on Bush Jr.’s sketchy record in the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. Mapes assembles a crack team including a colonel (Dennis Quaid), a professor (Elisabeth Moss), a researcher (Topher Grace), and Rather, assuming a hands-off role.
Then, what she calls a big piece of juicy “brisket” falls in her lap: Lt. Col. Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach), a former Texas Army National Guardsman, hands Mapes documents purportedly drafted by Bush’s commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, criticizing Bush’s service record and insinuating that he did not fulfill his 6-year commitment to the Guard.
Burkett tells Mapes he received the documents from Chief Warrant Officer George Conn of the Texas Air National Guard, who acquired them from Killian’s personal files. With all the documents in by September 4, and the piece—at Mapes’ behest—set to air on September 8, the team rushes to corroborate the claims. They interview former Lt. Gov. of Texas Ben Barnes, who claims he personally recommended Bush for the TexANG; Killian’s pal Robert Strong, who ran the TexANG administrative office and says the letters seem consistent with Killian’s beliefs; and Mapes dictates the contents of the letters by phone to General Bobby Hodges, Killian’s superior at the time, who corroborates their content. Then, they enlist the services of four document experts to examine the content of the Killian letters. One expresses doubts about the proportional spacing and superscripted “th” of the letters but says she can’t confirm without the originals, one says her findings are inconclusive, and two confirm that the signatures on the documents match Killian’s.
Unfortunately, since the original documents don’t exist there’s no way to fully authenticate the faxed docs, and with the airdate looming, there wasn’t enough time to establish a chain of custody.
The segment airs on 60 Minutes, and as soon as the gang’s done celebrating, the blogosphere erupts with claims that the Killian docs are forgeries, alleging that the spacing, font, superscript, etc. were all compatible with a document created using the current version of Microsoft Word. Mapes and Rather stand by the report, even producing follow-up segments defending the original piece, but the president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward (Bruce Greenwood), is very skeptical. His fears are stoked when Burkett admits to lying about who gave him the documents, claiming that a Hispanic woman handed them off to him.
So instead of good journalism, Rather and Mapes were agenda-driven, wanting the story to be true and wanting America to believe it to be true in order to influence and affect the outcome of a presidential election. Even CBS recognized this and rightly sacked Rather.
Here is a comment I had on the topic years ago:
90% of young Americans of the time, never served in Vietnam. If one wanted guaranteed avoidance of serving in combat, joining the Air National Guard as a fighter pilot would hardly be a smart move. W. Bush joined the Guard for a 6-year term. If you are drafted, you only had to serve 2 years. Pilots from the unit that he joined were being sent to Vietnam.
Letter by Col. William Campenni Ret. published in the Washington Times:
There was one big exception to this abusive use of the Guard to avoid the draft, and that was for those who wanted to fly, as pilots or crew members. Because of the training required, signing up for this duty meant up to 2½ years of active duty for training alone, plus a high probability of mobilization. A fighter-pilot candidate selected by the Guard (such as Lt. Bush and I) would be spending the next two years on active duty going through basic training (six weeks), flight training (one year), survival training (two weeks) and combat crew training for his aircraft (six to nine months), followed by local checkout (up to three more months) before he was even deemed combat-ready. Because the draft was just two years, you sure weren’t getting out of duty being an Air Guard pilot. If the unit to which you were going back was an F-100, you were mobilized for Vietnam. Avoiding service? Yeah, tell that to those guys. The Bush critics do not comprehend the dangers of fighter aviation at any time or place, in Vietnam or at home, when they say other such pilots were risking their lives or even dying while Lt. Bush was in Texas. Our Texas ANG unit lost several planes right there in Houston during Lt. Bush’s tenure, with fatalities. Just strapping on one of those obsolescing F-102s was risking one’s life.
we have established that the F-102 was serving in combat in Vietnam at the time Bush enlisted to become an F-102 pilot. In fact, pilots from the 147th FIG of the Texas ANG were routinely rotated to Vietnam for combat duty under a program called ”Palace Alert” from 1968 to 1970. Palace Alert was an Air Force program that sent qualified F-102 pilots from the ANG to bases in Europe or southeast Asia for periods of three to six months for frontline duty.
Fred Bradley, a friend of Bush’s who was also serving in the Texas ANG, reported that he and Bush inquired about participating in the Palace Alert program. However, the two were told by a superior, MAJ Maurice Udell, that they were not yet qualified since they were still in training and did not have the 500 hours of flight experience required. Furthermore, ANG veteran COL William Campenni, who was a fellow pilot in the 111th FIS at the time, told the Washington Times that Palace Alert was winding down and not accepting new applicants.
As he was completing training and being certified as a qualified F-102 pilot, Bush’s squadron was a likely candidate to be rotated to Vietnam. However, the F-102 was built for a type of air combat that wasn’t seen during that conflict, and the plane was withdrawn from southeast Asia in December 1969. The F-102 was instead returned to its primary role of providing air defense for the United States. In addition, the mission of Ellington AFB, where Bush was stationed, was also changing from air defense alert to training all F-102 pilots in the US for Air National Guard duty. Lt. Bush remained in the ANG as a certified F-102 pilot who participated in frequent drills and alerts through April of 1972. … By this time, the 147th Fighter Wing was also beginning to transition from the F-102 to the F-101F, an updated version of the F-101B used primarily for air defense patrols. Furthermore, the war in Vietnam was nearing its end and the US was withdrawing its forces from the theater. Air Force personnel returning to the US created a glut of active-duty pilots, and there were not enough aircraft available to accommodate all of the qualified USAF and ANG pilots. Since USAF personnel had priority for the billets available, many of the Air National Guard pilots whose enlistments were nearly complete requested early release. The ANG was eager to fulfill these requests because there was not enough time to retrain F-102 pilots to operate new aircraft before their enlistments were up anyway. Bush was one of those forced out by the transition, and he was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant in October 1973, eight months before his six-year enlistment was complete. Bush had approximately 600 flight hours by the time he completed his military service.
While Bush did not see combat in Vietnam, it is also obvious that he was not seeking a way to avoid the risk of being sent to Vietnam. At the time he was training to be an F102 pilot, ANG units and that aircraft type were based in Vietnam.
Back to Daily Yeast:
In one chilling sequence, Mapes is seen browsing conservative websites online, with trolls branding her a “feminazi” and “ugly,” and one anonymous poster writing, “I’m picturing Sean Hannity sharpening his knife to gut this witch.”
Oh, the horror! Just go take a gander at Daily Kos right now to see what they’re thinking and writing about Dick Cheney this past weekend.
The devil is in the details, as they say, and though the documents themselves may be falsified, both Mapes and Rather view them as more a piece of corroborative evidence, and continue to believe in the general veracity of the story—which isn’t questioned.
To quothe Dan Rather: “Fake but accurate”.
Mapes is seen as a victim in all this—both of Burkett’s ruse and of the CBS brass, who throw her directly under the bus. The film’s finest scene sees Blanchett deliver a blistering monologue to the Thornburgh review panel detailing how difficult it would be to and how much inside information would be required to falsify the Killian documents.
And Rather, generally shown to be a charming, loyal, and caring man with paternal love for Mapes—and a bit of a whiskey addiction—is let off the hook, merely going with the flow and doing what Mapes tells him. At the end of the film, after her firing and Rather’s forced retirement, she asks him, “Why didn’t you ask me if the documents are real?” He tenderly replies, “Because I knew I didn’t need to.”
Oh em gee! Who writes this stuff? Oh, yeah…
In a 2007 interview with Larry King, Rather claimed “he played largely a supervisory role” in the Bush segment, that the review panel was “a set-up,” and that “Nobody to this day has proved these documents were fraudulent… The story was true.”
Yes, put out a hitpiece without vetting it for truth and accuracy; then ask others to prove it’s false. Outstanding journalistic integrity!
“Truth” sounds fake and anything but accurate in its revisionist history attempting to rationalize sloppy, politically agenda-driven yellow journalism. Mapes and Rather are the worst kinds of producer/journalists: Political propagandists under the guise of journalism.
And this is just so rich:
After the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Rather choked up discussing Truth in a post-screening Q&A. He called Vanderbilt’s film “very accurate,” and, when asked by an audience member if there’s anything in his career he would have done differently, he replied, “Journalism is not an exact science.”
At first I thought the Daily Beast article was going to be a favorable movie review; but now I’m not so sure.
Modern lefty media journalism is more interested in narratives than in facts. The specific facts of a case may be fake, but that doesn’t matter as long as the narrative is accurate.
It had always felt compellingly true to them that President Bush dodged military service or otherwise benefited from undue influence. It was the perfect finishing touch for their arguments against the Iraq War. It made their position the righteous and patriotic one. It was the perfect note on which to begin the rise of President Kerry. It was so emotionally and ideologically compelling that it had to be true.
It might not have been factually true, but it was emotionally true, and narratives are not about factual truths. They are about emotional truths.
Oh yeah, and btw: George W. Bush also stole an election.