CBS will not run advertising for the new movie "Truth," and has denounced the film as a disservice to both the public and journalists.
The film, starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford, revisits a painful episode in the network's past -- the discrediting of a 2004 CBS News story on former President George W. Bush's military service record.
Redford plays former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, and Blanchett plays his producer, Mary Mapes. The two were behind a "60 Minutes II" story that questioned Bush's military record. CBS ended up apologizing for the story after documents used were called into question and could not be verified. Mapes and three news executives were fired. Rather left the network soon after.
Sony Pictures Classics had sought a multi-million dollar ad buy to promote "Truth" on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show," the "CBS Evening News," ''CBS This Morning" and "60 Minutes," but was turned down, said Sherri Callan, president of Callan Advertising, the company that places ads for Sony.
CBS told Callan the film was full of inaccuracies and distortions and would offend longtime CBS News employees.
In a statement, a rep for CBS said: “It’s astounding how little truth there is in ‘Truth.’ There are, in fact, too many distortions, evasions and baseless conspiracy theories to enumerate them all. The film tries to turn gross errors of journalism and judgment into acts of heroism and martyrdom. That’s a disservice not just to the public but to journalists across the world who go out every day and do everything within their power, sometimes at great risk to themselves, to get the story right.”
The film, told from the points of view of Mapes and Rather, is based on Mapes’ book about the events surrounding the discredited story. “Truth” has received mixed reviews and been criticized for hewing to Mapes’ and Rather’s account of the situation. Both left the network in 2006, and Rather unsuccessfully sued the network and has complained of being "erased" from CBS history.
In its review, the website Vox.com says “The central problem with ‘Truth’ is how thoroughly it stacks its deck. It's not really comfortable with the idea that its central characters got something wrong, so it continues to insist — long past the point of reasonableness — that they got everything right.”
But one of the film’s producers Brad Fischer said there was no agenda on their part, and that the filmmakers were simply attracted by the intersection of news, politics and business and the story's status as one of the first to be undone by an Internet outcry.
"I'm excited for people to see the film, and talk about the issues and ask the questions themselves," he said, "because I don't think the movie really draws a conclusion about these things. I don't think it's our job as filmmakers to draw a conclusion, but rather to pose the questions."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.