Accuracy in Media

In a tip of the hat to Hillary Clinton, former Sixty Minutes II producer Mary Mapes who brought us the now infamous and discredited Bush National Guard memos has blamed the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy for her downfall. Mapes whose book Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power is scheduled for release on November 8th will apparently vigorously defend her decisions and actions in what has become one of the biggest media scandals in recent memory.

While we don’t have full access to the book yet, we do have an excerpt.

All that changed about 11:00 a.m., when I first started hearing rumbles from some producers at CBS News that a handful of far right Web sites were saying that the documents had been forged. 

I was incredulous. That couldn’t be possible. Even on the morning the story aired, when we showed the president’s people the memos, the White House hadn’t attempted to deny the truth of the documents. In fact, the president’s spokesman, Dan Bartlett, had claimed that the documents supported their version of events: that then-lieutenant Bush had asked for permission to leave the unit.

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS. Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators–or whatever they were–were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

 Mapes has left out the fact that the White House was asked to comment on memos that they barely had time to fully analyze. Plus in this excerpt there is no mention of the lack of credibility of their source and I don’t expect this will be brought up at all in the rest of the book.

With any luck her book will do about as well as Jayson Blair’s and wind up in the bargain bin in a hurry




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