Robert Redford on Dan Rather's Feud With George W. Bush

Robert Redford appeared at a forum sponsored by the New York Times on Thursday evening in New York City talking about a new film in which he stars called "Truth". The movie is about an incident that occurred during the presidential election of 2004 when CBS anchorman Dan Rather narrated a 60 Minutes story charging that in the early 1970s President George W. Bush had skipped out of his duties to the Air National Guard in Alabama by using personal connections to avoid his service requirements. Redford, playing Rather, and Cate Blanchett, in the role of Mary Mapes, Rather's producer, both spoke about what they had learned from the film. Redford pointed out that when he played Bob Woodward in "All The President's Men", Woodward always had the backing of the Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee even when he made occasional mistakes during his Watergate investigation. This support enabled Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein to track down the full details of the Watergate burglary, despite withering criticism, leading to the downfall of President Richard Nixon. But in the George W. Bush case, Redford points out, when Rather and his producer Mapes made a few errors in their presentation that did not detract from the essence of their story, Rather's bosses at CBS, abandoned both reporter and producer, eventually dismissing them. Much of the pressure on CBS, it was pointed out by Dan Rather, who also appeared on the panel, came directly from the Bush White House and from a right-wing attack machine that maliciously exaggerated the missteps Rather and Mapes made in their story. In the end, Rather praised the "Truth" film as an accurate portrait of what had happened, suggesting that journalism is always a "crude art" and that the process of gathering information can sometimes be faulty, but that does not take away from the fact that the ultimate tale is a true one.