‘Truth’: Media or Medea?

Screenwriter James Vanderbilt, who had previously written David Fincherand’s and”Zodiacand” and also and”The Amazing Spider-Man,and” has directed his first feature with and”Truth.and”
The film is based on the book about infamous American TV news program and”60 Minutesand” producer Mary Mapes which revolves around a news story that put an end to Mapesand’ TV career and led to legendary journalist Dan Ratherand’s retirement as CBS anchorman.
Starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford as the leads, the newsroom drama manifests itself as a bitter victory for those journalists who refuse to give up their professional integrity, yet on a larger scale one cannot deny that this narrative is the harbinger of the tragic trajectory that media has taken today — numbing entertainment over intelligent news, corporate profits as the prerogative and the Sword of Damocles, i.e., the state hanging over the notion of free media. Sound familiar?
It is indeed spine-chilling to watch this film at this specific point in Turkey when media outlets are being closed down one by one by the state due to their opposition stance.
It is 2004 and America is on the brink of electing its new president. George Bush is currently in power and American troops are deployed in Iraq. Presidential candidate John Kerryand’s campaign is consistently smeared on the grounds of his military past. The air is seething with tension. Enter Mary Mapes (Blanchett), a powerhouse of a TV producer and journalist who was the person behind the investigation of the Abu Ghraib story. Sheand’s the major breadwinner of her household, she loves her job and her family and we are immediately told that she has a strong affliction towards bullying.
Mapes is the lead producer of and”60 Minutesand” and sheand’s got a new lead on a story that can affect the presidential election. Sheand’s on the brink of finding out that Bush had his family pull strings to enlist him in the National Guard so that he could avoid going to Vietnam and didnand’t show up for training even during his years in the military.
Mary gathers, in her words, a and”crack teamand” of journalist to dig deeper. They comprise Lucy Scott (and”Mad Menand’sand” Peggy Olson), Mike Smith (Topher Grace) and Lt. Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid). These are all great characters, only one wishes they had more screen time.
Maryand’s bosses are pushing her to move quickly so that they can run the story at the earliest convenience. Most of the leads indicate a dead-end as military officials deny the claim, except for one specific retired colonel (Stacey Keach). The colonel hands over to the team a set of military memos from the 1970s, indicating that Bush did not attend his training. The team believes they have landed the final evidence and run the program.
The only problem is that the authenticity of the documents is called into question by nameless bloggers, pro-government media channels and Internet trolls who continually attack Mapes. CBS finds itself in a difficult position. Are they going to stand behind Mapes, who claims the documents are authentic, or are they going to point the finger at her and make her the scapegoat?
Itand’s all downhill from here, and at this we are shown how Mapes becomes the target of a witch hunt and everyone around her, including her bosses, turn their backs on her. At this point, she has to choose whether sheand’s going to give in or fight back.
She knows itand’s a lost cause, and although Vanderbilt sets out to honor the old-school journalists and media professionals who are now swept under the rug and replaced by employees hired to generate Internet clicks and and”likes,and” the picture is not pretty or hopeful. Perhaps Vanderbilt is too much in love with his characters throughout the film, but at least he makes it clear that today itand’s not the and”truthand” or and”objectivityand” that is important in journalism.
It is completely the opposite, really: Whoever brownnoses the right people in the hierarchy, whoever has the best smear campaign and whoever uses the right marketing spectacle to gain attention comes out victorious and is considered to be the most eligible source. And this was back in 2004. Just imagine how things are in 2015.
It all sounds too close to home and terribly frightening.
and”Truthand” is a fiction film, and though its neat packaging and occasional cheesiness is a tad too much to stomach, its endeavor in capturing the global downfall of the media and this downfalland’s continuing eradication of one of the most respected professions in human history is every inch the hard truth.


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