CBS Bans Ads for Truth, a Movie That Makes CBS Look Bad

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Cate Blanchett in Truth. Photo: Sony Picture Classics

CBS was always going to have an awkward relationship with Truth: The upcoming film tells the story of 2004's Memogate scandal, in which Dan Rather and 60 Minutes got taken in by documents that purportedly showed a young George W. Bush going AWOL from the Air National Guard. (Though the memos are widely acknowledged as fakes, Rather and his producer Mary Mapes insist the information they contained was true.) Unsurprisingly, the 2015 version of CBS does not seem keen on promoting this movie, with THR reporting that the network turned down millions of dollars in ad buys for Truth on Late Show With Stephen Colbert, CBS This Morning, The CBS Evening News, and 60 Minutes itself.

The problem isn't just the reopening of old wounds — CBS insiders apparently object to the way they're depicted in the film, which portrays Rather and Mapes as dogged investigators who were sold out by network higher-ups. "It's astounding how little truth there is in Truth," CBS spokesman Gil Schwartz, himself a character in the film, told THR. "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."

Despite the ad ban, the network hasn't banned Truth from its airwaves entirely; last week Cate Blanchett, who plays Mapes, appeared on Late Show to promote the film. In other words, CBS doesn't want the Truth, but it can handle the Truth.