The movie Sully concerns Chesley Sullenberger’s emergency landing on the Hudson River. Although both engines failed due to a bird strike, everyone survived due to his commendable skill. 

But we see that he is not commended by the National Transportation Safety Board. He is immediately grilled. They show flight simulations and insist he could have landed safely since one engine was still working. Our hero Sully fights back and wins. Yess! Truth, Justice and the American Way prevail! Movie audiences applaud!  

Don’t be fooled. This movie is strictly for the birds. 

Clint Eastwood and Warner Bros. are making millions dishonestly. They portray the NTSB as hell-bent on Sully’s destruction. In fact, the NTSB hearing was courteous; it was held 18 months after the event, and misleading flight simulations were not shown. And the flight data recorder (“black box”) proved that both engines had indeed failed.  

This fact was known within days. Yet as a howling omission, Eastwood never remotely mentions it. I saw the movie twice to be perfectly sure. His dishonesty is reprehensible. Dirty Clint knew perfectly well that most moviegoers would accept his story without question. 

The chief NTSB investigator told Condé Nast Traveler: “The NTSB treated Captain Sullenberger and his fellow crewmembers very benignly” (online: What the Sully Movie Gets Wrong). By the time the NTSB conducted interviews, “They were international heroes. As a result, we were even more deferential.”  

Their deference is evident in the transcript of the hearing. I have read all 230 pages. I understand aviation technology. I have flown aircraft, gone solo, and seen aviation museums showing the technical causes of aircraft crashes such as metal fatigue, loose pipes, loose nuts, etc. 

Eastwood is a loose nut who hates the government, even for its work in aviation safety. He did not contact the NTSB prior to making the movie. This is an abuse of his power. Not surprisingly, Warner Bros. refused to talk to reporters asking about the movie’s falsehoods. Sully also refused. He had presumably agreed to keep quiet after cashing his nice big check. Eastwood’s movie was based on Sully’s book Highest Duty. Sully’s highest duty, however, was to speak the truth. 

Integrity is a rare commodity in America. Our lazy, spineless and brainless news media pretend to maintain “balance” but parrot Republican talking points verbatim. But why is it unbalanced to disprove a blatant lie? We used to call it “the truth,” remember?  

Media executives say it is not their job to point out lies. But wielding power without conscience is irresponsible. Their fawning over Donald Trump, since he boosted their profits, was grossly irresponsible. They enabled his lies.

In a recent article, Yes, I’d Lie to You, The Economist stated: “Dishonesty in politics is nothing new; but the manner in which some politicians now lie, and the havoc they may wreak by doing so, are worrying.” Exhibit No. 1 was Trump’s blatant lying to Hugh Hewitt regarding ISIS. 

Trump said President Obama was its “founder” and Hillary Clinton was its “co-founder.” Hewitt asked if he meant America’s exit from Iraq “created the vacuum” that ISIS filled. “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” replied Trump. Hewitt persisted: “He hates them. He’s trying to kill them!” Trump simply went blustering on: “I don’t care. He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq was, that, that was the founding of ISIS, OK?” Hewitt gave up.

Did you spot Trump’s whoppers? ISIS arose out of the chaos President Bush Junior created in Iraq (as a teenage girl reminded his brother Jeb). President Obama “got out of Iraq” because he was bound by the exit treaty signed by Bush. Of course, it was Bush’s relentless lying that took America to war in the first place.

The Economist continued: “Today a growing number of politicians and pundits simply no longer care [about truth]. And when the distance between what feels true and what the facts say grows too great, it can always be bridged with a handy conspiracy theory.” If this does not sound familiar, you are not paying attention.

And a month later, its editorial “The Debasing of American Politics” roundly castigated Trump for “trampling over” the “unwritten rules that American democracy thrives on” to prevent “furious, hate-filled gridlock.” America runs on outdated software. It needs common-sense moderation to make its clunky Constitution function. Republican lying has turned it into a devil’s brew.

There is no happy ending. This is not a movie. Eastwood lied about the NTSB, trashing government to spread his ultra-conservative ideology. Trump lies with impunity and got elected. Bush lied with impunity. The right-wing media lie with impunity. The American Way has become relentless lying.

The blurring of truth and fiction is a tragedy because democracy needs an informed electorate to survive.