Mary Mapes Responds


Here is the just released statement from the Queen of Self Importance:

I am terribly disappointed in the conclusions of the report and its effects on the four of us who will no longer work at CBS News. I am disappointed as well for the entire organization. It has been my second family and I will miss my colleagues there.

I am shocked by the vitriolic scape-goating in Les Moonves?s statement. I am very concerned that his actions are motivated by corporate and political considerations — ratings rather than journalism. Mr. Moonves?s response to the review panel?s report and the panel?s assessment of the evidence it developed in its investigation combine not only to condemn me, but to put all investigative reporting in the CBS tradition at risk.

Much has been made about the fact that these documents are photocopies and therefore cannot be trusted, but decades of investigative reporting have relied on just such copies of memos, documents and notes. In vetting these documents, we did not have ink to analyze, original signatures to compare, or paper to date. We did have context and corroboration and believed, as many journalists have before and after our story, that authenticity is not limited to original documents. Photocopies are often a basis for verified stories.

Before the Bush/Guard story aired, the newly found documents that supported it were thoroughly examined and corroborated. The contents of the new documents mesh perfectly, in large ways and small, with all previously known records. The new documents also were corroborated by retired Gen. Bobby Hodges, the late Col. Killian?s commander, who said that the documents showed Col. Killian?s true sentiments as well as his actions in the case. After the broadcast, Marian Carr Knox provided the same corroboration in her televised interview. Yet, despite the panel?s recognition of the heretofore unchalleneged integrity of my work in the past, the panel was quick to condemn me here on the basis of statements of people who told my associates and me very different versions than what they told the panel.

I cooperated fully with the review panel, provided them with more than 1,000 pages of reporting and background materials and answered each and every one of their questions completely and truthfully. To the extent that my answers differed from others? statements, I can only emphasize my own honesty and integrity in attempting to reconstruct the details of the days leading up to the story?s airing.

It is noteworthy the panel did not conclude that these documents are false. Indeed, in the end, all that the panel did conclude was that there were many red flags that counseled against going to air quickly. I never had control of the timing of any airing of a 60 Minutes segment; that has always been a decision made by my superiors. Airing this story when it did, was also a decision made by my superiors, including Andrew Heyward. If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me. Those superiors also made the decision to give the White House little time to consider or respond to the Killian documents. Contrary to the conclusions of the panel, I vetted all aspects of the story with my editors. In fact, as I have always done with my editors, I told them everything.

I believe the segment presented to the American people facts they were free to accept or reject, and that as those facts were presented, there was nothing that was false or misleading. I am heartened to see that the panel found no political bias on my part, as indeed I have none. For 25 years, I have built a reputation as a fair, honest and thorough journalist. I have had 15 wonderful years at CBS News and four very bad months. I love and respect the people there and I wish them every good fortune.

January 10, 2005

I personally think this lady’s previous work needs to be looked into. Hey all, it’s not my fault, it’s my boss’s fault. My favorite statement is the “It is noteworthy the panel did not conclude that these documents are false.” This lady is a freakin imbecile.

The Captain has an excellent post out with a whole lot of information on Mary Mapes and her supposed non-bias.

Mapes began working with Michael Smith, a free-lance Texas writer who told Mapes he had a “tasty brisket” of information regarding the story. In June, she wrote the following e-mail to Smith when he asked if she was serious about the story:

I am DEADLY serious about it. I have two other people working with me, looking at various aspects of the story, trying to find an opening. Barnes is on board, as on board as he can be anyway. I expect him to do it. The piece (if I get it) will run in early September. I need all the help I can get. Just tell me what you?ve got. (page 58)

In July, Smith alerts Mapes to a potential development with this e-mail:

I am close to something that the bushies are worried about; it?s a new angle and I have access to a variety of palace alert pilots [i.e., Guardsmen who volunteered for 90-day tours of active duty in Vietnam and elsewhere] that are on the edge of giving us something, but I think that access is closing.

According to the report, Smith wanted a contract with CBS to continue pursuing the story. Mapes’ reply: ?I desperately want to talk to you. . . . Do NOT underestimate how much I want this story.?

Again, this points up some unusually emphatic passion for a person supposedly free of bias. She had no evidence beyond that of Ben Barnes, a political opponent of George Bush, who only had second-hand information. (Barnes said he asked Rose to intercede on Bush’s behalf, but wound up getting some of his facts screwed up and later retreated somewhat, acknowledging that no one asked him to make the call.) Given that she had no evidence and a lousy witness to the supposed crime, why did CBS allow her to spend all these resources on this story?

Mapes then primes the pump with CBS brass, telling exec-producer Josh Howard in two separate e-mails that “there is some very interesting Bush stuff shaking out there right now. I am getting about 4 calls a day from Austin. Re . . . his qualification and refusal of service in Vietnam, etc. Lots of goodies … there is a strong general feeling that this time, there is blood in the water.” (page 58)

Note, however, that no evidence had arisen to support any notion of blood in the water. In fact, Mapes had garnered no new evidence since her first reporting on the subject in 1999 and 2000, and yet she continued to tell CBS that the story was developing into a major item. And CBS never bothered to ask her what she had already developed, instead allowing her to sink resources into the investigation with no oversight whatsoever. Why?

By the 23rd, Mapes had developed nothing, and then suddenly hears that Bill Burkett — who John Roberts had considered “unreliable” and had reported such to CBS News — has his hands on TexANG documents. Where does she get this information? Paul Lukasiak and Linda Starr, two highly partisan critics of Bush. Starr and Burkett write for Online Journal, which regularly trashed Bush in its columns. Mapes recognized Burkett’s name from the February reports, and instead of pursuing Burkett directly, gets Smith to approach him instead (page 60).

Why? Why did Mapes, who had been hot on the story for weeks and under tremendous “competitive pressure” to beat the other news outlets, let a free-lancer get Burkett first? The Thornburgh-Boccardi panel apparently never asked her, but the best conclusion is that Mapes wanted some distance between herself and Burkett initially. She obviously knew Burkett’s reputation, and didn’t want to get stung by the unstable and unreliable source.

On page 61, we get the answer with this exchange of e-mail between Smith and Mapes. Smith outlines a “hypothetical” deal for Burkett (emphasis mine):

Today I am going to send the following hypothetical scenario to a reliable, trustable editor friend of mine . . .

What if there was a person who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal to help get us the information? What kinds of turnaround payment schedules are possible, keeping in mind the book probably could not make it out until after the election . . . . What I am asking is in this best case hypothetical scenario, can we get a decent sized advance payment, and get it turned around quickly.

Mapes’ reply? “[T]hat looks good, hypothetically speaking of course.”

Thus Mapes agreed to pursue financial rewards with a source that could influence the outcome of the election — not because that person had evidence of wrongdoing by George Bush or even that he had benefitted from the wrongdoing of others, but simply because Burkett could supply them documents that would influence the election, regardless of their reliability. Mapes knew that Roberts already considered Burkett a crank after working with him, and she didn’t care.

How can that not be positive and convincing evidence of bias?

Indeed. How the hell can this not be considered bias? But this report, although seemingly well documented and so forth, makes the claim that they cannot find any evidence of bias….give me a break.

I’ll end this one with a response made by Lizard By The Bay on the Discarded Lies blog:

At first I always thought that Mapes was the type who would drink the Kool-Aid at Jonestown. But now we know the truth.

She would have made the Kool-Aid at Jonestown!

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