Cate Blanchett to star in a movie about George W. Bush’s National Guard records


Back in 2004, CBS News anchor Dan Rather was already known as something as a wild card. But his decades of journalistic integrity got turned around within the span of a week when he and CBS News producer Mary Mapes did a story on then-first-term president George W. Bush’s National Guard records. The scandal was known by many names – “The Killian Documents Controversy” or “Rather-gate.” The crux of the scandal was that Rather used some old documents from the early 1970s to show that Bush’s National Guard records were less than stellar, that his father had used his political influence to keep Dubya out of Vietnam and that Dubya had been very close to getting kicked out of the National Guard for insubordination, going MIA, failure to report for duty and on and on.

Conservative blogs and many mainstream outlets questioned the authenticity of the documentation used by CBS. Many said the documents looked forged and there was a lot of Twihard-proofing (before Twihard-proofing was a thing) of the whole situation. Mary Mapes ended up being fired by CBS and Rather’s career took a major hit. But, for what it’s worth, Rather stood by the story for the most part, and over the past years, he’s even doubled-down on the reporting, save for the questionable documentation. Long-term, Rather and Mapes might have been (mostly) correct too. So, why this trip down memory lane? Because they’re making a movie about this whole situation. Starring Cate Blanchett as Mapes and Robert Redford as Rather. YES TAKE MY MONEY NOW.

Robert Redford is attached to play CBS News icon Dan Rather and Cate Blanchett is attached to play his producer Mary Mapes in Truth, a film that will mark the directorial debut of James Vanderbilt, the A-list screenwriter behind the first two installments of The Amazing Spider-Man. The film will explore the scandal that erupted after Rather reported on 60 Minutes II that George W. Bush had gotten preferential treatment that put him in the National Guard to avoid the Vietnam War draft. The ensuing scandal during Bush’s reelection campaign left Mapes fired and Rather’s storied reputation in tatters.

Vanderbilt is adapting Mapes’ 2005 memoir Truth And Duty: The Press, The President, And The Privilege Of Power. They are eyeing a fall start, so this is all moving on a fast track. The project has not yet been set at a studio, but I expect it will not take long.

Shortly after they uncovered evidence of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, CBS News producer Mapes and former CBS News anchor Rather thought they found the story of their careers as Bush’s reelection campaign was getting underway and he was facing competition from Democratic candidate and Vietnam vet John Kerry. The story, based on documents purportedly from the files of Bush’s deceased National Guard commanding officer, alleged that the president’s powerful father, then an ambassador and future president, made calls to put him atop the list for the Texas Air National Guard. The aim was to keep his son from having to fight in Vietnam after he graduated from Yale in 1968. The docs came from a retired lieutenant colonel with the Texas Army National Guard. The story prompted an outcry of criticism from Conservative corners and the pressure spurred an internal CBS investigation into whether the documents were forgeries.

Mapes, who’d worked in TV news 25 years and won the Peabody Award, was subsequently fired for what the network called lapses in judgment. Strangely, the Bush campaign actually benefited from the scandal. His campaign exploited Kerry’s military service by getting some of his former soldiers to speak against him–a move now called ‘Swiftboating’ in campaign circles–and it helped Bush win reelection. Mapes maintained her belief that the documents were real, and that she and Rather were done in by a right-wing internet smear campaign that put the focus on “Rathergate” instead of the issue of whether the president benefited from his father’s powerful relationships to avoid service in Vietnam.

[From Deadline]

Putting aside the politics for a moment, can I just say… damn, this sounds like a great movie? Robert Redford as Dan Rather is a brilliant stroke of stunt-casting and Cate Blanchett as a tough and maligned news producer? YES. She’ll be doing an American accent again. Just like she did for the roles that got her two Oscars. Perhaps I’ll be the first to say it: Cate Blanchett is totally going to get an Oscar nomination for this.

Incidentally, this whole thing reminds me of another great movie about CBS’s newsroom culture – The Insider. That’s another great movie with another great actor playing an iconic CBS newsman: Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace. Perfection. And, oh yeah, Pacino and Crowe, both of whom act their asses off.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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34 Responses to “Cate Blanchett to star in a movie about George W. Bush’s National Guard records”

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  1. mystified says:

    I doubt this movie will be successful. Redford movies have been doing miserably lately.

    What’s with Redford’s hair? It looks worse than a t.v. sportscaster’s. I wish he would just go grey.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      @mystified, Captain American: The Winter Soldier did pretty well and Redford is the villain.

      • mystified says:

        I was thinking more of films he directed like the deservedly forgotten “Company You Keep” which was unfortunately released right after the Boston Marathon bombing.

    • Kaye says:

      This is what strawberry blond(e) hair looks like when it’s going gray. My grandmother’s looked just like this, and now mine does too.

      • mystified says:

        But has Redford’s hair ever been “strawberry” blonde? I recall it being more blonde blonde as in “The Way We Were”.

    • imsupposedtobeworking says:

      It’s Robert Redford. He has more money than God, and he does what interests him. I doubt he cares how many tickets he sells at this point. So yeah, a lot of his more recent stuff hasn’t been huge, or even critically acclaimed. I think he just follows his passions and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Because he can.

      Personally, I hope the movie does well. It would be nice to see truth prevail.

    • TC says:

      Actually, last year’s All is Lost was lauded by film critics. Many called it the best work of Robert Redford’s career. Great movie. Redford’s performance was incredibly affecting. He seems to be doing work that interests him and telling stories that have something important to say. More power to him.

  2. Dorothy#1 says:

    I’ll watch!!

  3. Kiddo says:

    It sounds very promising. Any idea on how Rather feels about it? I know nothing about the book.

  4. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I’m not proud of this, but if I had been able to keep my child from serving in Vietnam, I might have done so. It’s wrong and it’s unfair, but so is dying in a pointless, seemingly endless war. The whole set-up was unfair to people in less privileged classes. For a long time, you could get out of it by going to college, an option not as readily available to the poor as it is today, or by getting married, which many people did, or by joining the National Guard. I’m not saying that this was the honorable thing to do, but I think the real disgrace is that we were in that war to begin with, and that we allowed loopholes for privileged people to escape service. I’m not sure how much I blame someone for taking advantage of the loopholes when the life of their child was at stake.

    • Kiddo says:

      I think the underlying issue was that Bush was hawkish when he was sending others into battle, but didn’t want to go himself. I don’t know whether or not the accusations were true or manufactured. If they were, then it’s not the same as someone sidestepping the obligation or being a conscientious objector, who then goes on to live a peaceful life with no involvement in creating armed conflict.

    • tessy says:

      Another issue is that Bush didn’t even finish his stint in the National Guard, technically deserting his post. Bush and his family really managed to sweep a lot of dirt under the carpet, to the detriment of millions of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, thousands of American soldiers and their families.

  5. evie says:

    Nope. This sounds like one of the most boring movie ideas ever.

  6. Lilacflowers says:

    Please, please, please have “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” on the soundtrack! I’m there to see this any way but that would just gild it.

  7. Lizzie K says:

    Nope. I love Cate, but no way am I watching any political docu-dramas, no matter who is in it. Maybe I’m an outlier, but I don’t sense any appetite in the country for this kind of movie, and I don’t think we’ll see the success of Redford/Hoffman’s “All the President’s Men.” I’ll go out on a limb and predict a box office bomb. No foreign market to speak of, and half the domestic market will hate it.

  8. Dancinnancy says:

    I’m not a fan of docudrama’s when the subjects are still alive. Too soon. And seemingly irrelevant for the time. Until you realize this will drop during election time.

    • feebee says:

      How will it drop at election time? If they’re due to start filming in the fall they’ll only be finishing at election time. Surely they won’t hold it in post-production for two years?

  9. TG says:

    If it is done well I will support it but don’t liberals always try to rush a movie out just before election thinking it will open voters minds? Anyway i would never vote for any party that has candidates that support the belief that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and other anti-science rhetoric or try to control women. It is just so American Taliban.

    • imsupposedtobeworking says:

      Yeah, like that Obama 2016 movie that came our right before the last election…

      • Bravocueen says:

        Yep. And for his trouble Dinesh D’Souza is being targeted by the IRS. The politics in our country have completely destroyed it.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I’m a democrat, but that is a pretty ridiculous exaggeration. That’s what’s wrong with our country. People can’t have civil discussions or believe that reasonable people can disagree. Everybody on both sides is so self-righteous, calling the other side Communists or Taliban. We will never get anywhere or get anything done until we can act like adults and try to reach some workable solutions to our problems. Name calling, taking the other person’s point of view to the ridiculous extreme and closing our minds is just going to give us more of the same limp economy and gridlocked government we’ve had for the last six years. It might make you feel good, but it’s getting us nowhere.

      • Leek says:

        Thank you for stating that/ I have always been heavily interested in politics and now my son is getting into it as well and what I always tell him when we’re discussing what’s going on is that you can have other beliefs and still be intelligent, and vice versa, and we all have the best intentions for everyone, but there are different ways in which to make change happen.

        We can’t always agree and no one is ever going to be polite and PC all of the time but I think that’s what makes it all worth it in the end. Besides, without the assholes in the world it would be so dull. Let’s also not forget that in the effort to be “one” we can be inadvertently erasing the qualities, the wonderful qualities, that make us all so very different from one another.

  10. TheOriginalKitten says:

    While I don’t need to be reminded of what a buffoon Dubya was, the cast alone is enough for me to want to see it.

    • mayamae says:

      I typically call W. an imbecile, but your choice of buffoon is perfect. He was captured perfectly in a SNL skit a few years back. Obama had to visit Biden, who was pouting because he just realized a VP carries no power. As Obama calmly soothed Biden, Biden told him stories of his friend George – the audience believes it’s a figment of his imagination. Anyway, next thing you know, Will Ferrell (as W.) walks out of the closet. Apparently, on the day they were moving out of the white house, W. saw a pretty butterfly and got distracted and then lost following it. He had been stuck in that closet since then.

  11. HappyMom says:

    I don’t know. This doesn’t exactly have the thrill of a Watergate coverup. I’m no Bush fan, and clearly his dad did use his influence to get him out of serving (and don’t even get me started on Dick Cheney, who despite being a draft dodger was a huge hawk) but this doesn’t seem really exciting. Also-Robert Redford is WAY too old to be playing this part.

    • mayamae says:

      Yeah, Cheney got five deferrals. I thought Robert Redford was way too old as well, but he’s actually five years younger than Rather.

  12. Scarlet Vixen says:

    I remember this news story, but don’t remember it being so huge and didn’t know of the huge fallout afterward. I guess I’m having a hard time understanding why Bush serving in the Guard was such a huge deal. I served in the Nat’l Guard in the late 90s with many Vietnam leftovers who had enlisted in the Guard specifically to not get drafted. It was an extremely common occurrence. It’s also not like being in the Guard saves you from war-Reserve and Guard component soldiers are sent over all the time-I have friends in the Guard who have been deployed 3 times in the last few years. Hell, even Nat’l Guard bands are being deployed.
    And the insubordination…especially in a time of combat it can actually takes alot to get ‘kicked out’ ot the military. A soldier in my unit failed MULTIPLE drugs tests before they let her go. Another quit showing up for drills for over a year and never returned thousand of $ worth of equipment and was still on our books 2yrs later. Female soldiers intentionally get pregnant on Active Duty to try to get out of their enlistments/deployments. I knew another soldier who was the worst NCO I had ever met who kept getting promoted because her mother was also in the Guard-and happened to be having an affair with the daughter’s commander. Now, most of those people don’t become president, but stupid crap, favoritism, etc happen ALL the time in the military.

    • NeoCleo says:

      It wouldn’t be a huge deal if Bush actually SERVED in the guard but he did not. He was MIA and spent the time he was being paid partying and politicking with the “good ole boys” on the right.

  13. feebee says:

    My question is are they going to try and answer the original question or delve into it much at all… or simply be about what happened to Rather and Mapes?

  14. jane16 says:

    Can’t wait for this movie! I have always believed the original story and was disgusted by cbs. If this is done well, it could be great, like The Insider or All the President’s Men.