This journalist movie is like a real-life version of Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Newsroom’, the TV news anchor featured here being the renowned Dan Rather, played by a well-cast Robert Redford. It is also an inverse version of Spielberg’s toothless, anaemic and self-congratulatory ‘The Post’. That film covered heroic newspaper owner Kay Graham who backed her reporters and sources when they published ‘The Pentagon Papers’ in 1971. Or indeed ‘All The President’s Men’ in which crusading reporters again expose corruption and weather the political pressure to silence them from those in high places. In ‘Truth’ however, based on events 20 years later during the George W Bush presidency, things go the other way. Government coercion manages to suppress and silence the story, turning the Network owners against its own journalists. It is very instructive to see how that happened, but understandably this low-budget movie is a lot less ‘feel-good’ than those others and was a lot less successful!
For that reason, and also a somewhat pedestrian, straight-forward directorial style that doesn’t bring a huge amount of flair to the table, this feature slipped under the radar for most people when released in 2015. But it is definitely worth watching, if only because these are the kinds of stories that don’t get told very often.
The movie asks uncomfortable, unspoken questions, particularly with regard to liberal TV icon Dan Rather. Did Rather’s journalistic standards slip in his old age? Or has American society shifted so far in twenty years that the kind of robust, challenging and open public discourse for which he was famous is no longer possible in this era?