Leslie Moonves and CBS Staff Heard Dismissing Robert Redford's Dan Rather Movie as "Half-Truth"

Truth Still - H 2015
Lisa Tomasetti/Sony Pictures Classics

Truth Still - H 2015

Before its acclaimed premiere at TIFF, 'Truth' — about the scandal that ended the anchor's CBS News career — was screened for a special viewer: CBS president and CEO Moonves, who was not impressed.

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Truth, director James Vanderbilt's drama about the "Memogate" scandal that ended Dan Rather's CBS News career, was touted as a world premiere at Toronto. Rather himself turned up at the event to praise the film's accuracy and its (very sympathetic) portrayal of him.

But it turns out the movie was shown months earlier to a special viewer: CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves. And the reaction was less than effusive.

CBS mostly comes across as the villain in Truth, with news chief Andy Heyward appearing to fire Rather (Robert Redford) and 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchett) to appease the George W. Bush White House and protect CBS' bottom line in the wake of questions regarding documents behind a 2004 story on Bush's military service. The film downplays Rather's role in the reporting that led to the scandal and suggests that the attacks on the 60 Minutes II report were politically motivated.

A source close to the film says Moonves wasn't a fan of Truth, but, ever the gentleman, he didn't ask producers for major changes, and a CBS source says the network isn't planning to publicly lash out at Sony Pictures Classics' Oct. 16 release (any challenge from those depicted would only provide more publicity for the film, of course).

Still, Moonves and staff were heard at CBS headquarters dismissing the movie as "half truth." CBS declined to comment.