Accuracy in Media

Fired CBS News producer Mary Mapes claims that the panel that investigated her use of forged documents to damage President Bush wasn’t able to figure out whether the documents were real. But the panel didn’t take the time to do so. We have heard this claim from other defenders of Mapes and CBS.

It’s worth repeating, since the Mapes book on the scandal has been released, why we had concluded with good reason that the documents CBS used on the air were forged. We noted at the time-and will repeat here-that we consulted Herbert Romerstein, a retired government expert on anti-American and communist propaganda activities who specialized in uncovering and exposing Soviet forgeries used against the U.S. in the Cold War. 

“Documents cannot stand on their own two feet,” he told us. “There has to be a provenance for them-tracing them to their origin or the personal possession of someone. The fact that the CBS documents had no provenance makes them suspicious in the first place. In this case, somebody gave the documents to CBS and lied about where he got them. That should have been enough evidence that they were phony.”

Romerstein said that document examiners “also have to look at the content of the documents. In the case of the CBS documents, they had the wrong type face. The type-face didn’t exist when the documents were supposedly typed. When you’re dealing with an inaccurate or suspect document, then you can only conclude that it was a forgery.”

There is something else that we should set straight.

The Thornburgh/Boccardi report into the scandal did reveal on page 130 that Mapes had documented information in her possession before the controversial broadcast that George W. Bush, while in the Texas Air National Guard, “did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots.” This information is critical because Rather, in the broadcast, insinuated that Bush was among the “many well-connected young men [who tried to] pull strings and avoid service in Vietnam.”

This means that Mapes had the evidence exonerating Bush of the malicious charge of going into the National Guard to avoid Vietnam. The report shows that there were multiple credible sources to prove that he was in fact willing to go to Vietnam as a pilot. However, CBS News deliberately kept this information from its viewers.

The Mapes book is titled, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power. She abused her power and concealed the truth. For this, she was reportedly paid in the high six figures.

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