Clooney Says His CBS Movie Is Double-Checked, But Old CBS Hands Differ

October 14th, 2005 6:45 AM

George Clooney gave an interview to Village Voice critic J. Hoberman on his Murrow tribute film. Before Clooney passed on that esteemed film critic "Dan Rather loves, loves, loves this movie," he explained why he made it: "I was concerned about the lack of debate. The conception changed only in that a book came out about how great McCarthy was and how wrong Murrow was." Hoberman asked: "Ann Coulter’s 'Treason'?" Clooney said: "Yes. I realized that we had to be incredibly careful with the facts, because if we got any of them wrong, they could say it's all horse [poop]. So I had to double-source every scene."

But old CBS people who helped Clooney make the film (and who are portrayed in the film), Joe and Shirley Wershba, told NPR’s "On The Media" that Clooney didn’t get one scene right: the one where they worried that McCarthy could be right, and maybe the Soviets were penetrating the government. Heck no, they laughed:

NPR's BROOKE GLADSTONE: You know, you two have in the film an exchange in bed one night...It’s of such critical dramatic significance I kind of thought it was added by the writers. Joe, you sort of muse what if we - we meaning Murrow's boys - are wrong? What if there are Communists out there poised to take down our government? And you said, "What if we're protecting the wrong people?" Did that exchange happen?

SHIRLEY WERSHBA: Mmm, not really. [LAUGHTER] We talked about not so much were we wrong but were we doing the right thing, because we grew up in this atmosphere of you don't take sides. You just present the news straight. That was the discussion that Joe and I used to have. Should we break with it? And I can remember that thought in particular. You've got to do it. You've got to go with this program or else what happens to the country?

And on that Ann Coulter book, it would be wrong to state that Coulter spent a great amount of pages in her book going after Murrow, when she only notes him in passing a few times.