ERROL’S UNKNOWN KNOWN: A media crowd turned up Tuesday night to mingle with director Errol Morris and catch an early glimpse at his latest film: “The Unknown Known.” Screened at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the documentary explores the career of Donald Rumsfeld through historical footage and 11 days worth of interviews by Morris. Rumsfeld was not in attendance.
This story first appeared in the March 27, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tom Brokaw gave brief remarks on his experience covering Rumsfeld as a journalist, offering that the former Secretary of Defense was the “chief architect of the Iraq War.”
Prior to the screening, Morris told WWD that what surprised him the most about making the movie was “how deeply, deeply unreflective of a man Rumsfeld is.”
While such an admission is, itself, surprising, the slippery ways of politicians are not.
According to Gay Talese, who showed up for the screening, when he was a journalist he “never believed anything” at face value that he was told by his sources. He’s held that scrutinizing eye when looking at the media profession today.
“Four or five years ago, I was really worried. It seemed that journalism as we knew it was going out of style, and that even The New York Times, which seemed the most solvent of the newspapers in this country, was going to go the way of the old Herald Tribune…or Life magazine,” he said. “But there’s been a remarkable rebounding of journalism. I’m feeling good about journalism in terms of the print media.”
One thing that does concern Talese is the meaning of a journalist. “My old, old generation defined journalism, and we defined who was qualified to become a journalist,” he said. “Today it’s a little bit vague because there are so many bloggers who have press cards.”
Blogger or not, a challenge that faces all media types today is speed and accuracy. “The 24-hour cycle is something that’s very difficult to deal with,” noted Morely Safer of “60 Minutes.” “I admire the current reporters and the ability to sort of wing it. They do a very good job.”