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Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power Hardcover – November 8, 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

<div><div>"Ms. Mapes details her rise and fall with a considerable amount of flair and self-deprecating humor…Simply put, she is woman, hear her roar--on behalf of both her instilled patriotism and her journalistic integrity….TRUTH AND DUTY is a good read from start to finish."--The Dallas Morning News
 
"Mapes musters a controlled, readable narrative about the story that became her professional undoing…the story…builds by increments (including) the memos themselves, and how they mesh--in ways large and small, in nuance and substance--with Bush's official Guard records."--The Washington Post Book World
 
"It's an illuminating look into journalism and the challenges reporters face in an era of blogging, instant Internet analysis, corporate ownership and network news starts."--The Buffalo News
 
"In…TRUTH AND DUTY, [Mapes] comes across as the kind of rip-snorting rodeo rider of the news I would have killed to work with as an editor. Her gallop through such Mapes-produced '60 Minutes II' scoops as securing Karla Faye Tucker's death row interview or tracking down Strom Thurmond's black illegitimate daughter or exposing the atrocities of Abu Ghraib gives us a heart-racing glimpse of a resourceful TV pro in her fearless prime."--Tina Brown
 
"TRUTH AND DUTY is a plainspoken…oftentimes sympathetic look at how the National Guard story came to be and why it fell apart." --The New York Observer
 
 
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From the Inside Flap

It was a great story. A true story. The kind of story any news producer would love to report, nail down and get on the air. And that’s just what Mary Mapes and her producing and reporting team did in September, 2004, when Dan Rather anchored their report on President George W. Bush’s dereliction of his National Guard duty for CBS News. The firestorm that followed their broadcast trashed Mapes’ well-respected career, caused Rather to resign from his anchor chair a year early, and led to an unprecedented "internal inquiry" into the story—chaired by former Reagan Attorney General Richard Thornburgh.

TRUTH AND DUTY is Mapes’ account of the often-surreal, always-harrowing fallout she experienced for raising questions about a powerful sitting president. It goes back to examine Bush’s political roots as governor of Texas and answers questions about the solidity of the documents at the heart of the National Guard story as well as where they came from. Her book takes readers not just into the newsroom where coverage decisions are made, but out into the field where the real reporting is done. TRUTH AND DUTY is peopled with a colorful and vigorous cast of characters—from Karl Rove to Sumner Redstone, Bill Burkett to Dan Rather—and moves from small-town rural Texas to the deserts of Afghanistan, from hurricane season in Florida to CBS corporate headquarters Black Rock in New York City.

TRUTH AND DUTY is a riveting chronicle of how the public’s right to know—or even to ask questions—is being attacked by an alliance of politicians, news organizations, bloggers and corporate America. It connects the dots between the emergence of a kind of digital McCarthyism, a corporation under fire from the federal government, and the decision about what kinds of stories a news network can cover (human interest: yes; political intrigue: no).

An answer to Bernard Goldberg and the thunder from the right, TRUTH AND DUTY is always fast, sometimes furious, and often unexpectedly funny about the collapse of one of America’s great institutions.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (November 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031235195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312351953
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
if you wonder what is wrong with our media today, how hair and makeup became more important than journalism, read this book to see how the mess we are in now started. Mapes and Rather are in search of Truth so, in American news today, they are, of course, unemployed.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This very readable book makes it very clear that CBS News was quite wrong to apologize for Mary Mapes's and Dan Rather's story, aired two months before the 2004 presidential election, about President Bush and the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam war. I was shocked to learn that two conservative Republicans I admired up until now, Ann Coulter and Richard Lowry, believe that Democrats forged signed documents showing that Bush avoided the draft unlawfully and failed to carry out his responsibilities to the Texas ANG.

The book, however, does not do a good job of explaining why the mainstream media did not criticize CBS News and its parent company Viacom, Inc., for covering up President Bush's immoral conduct as a young man by apologizing for the story and firing Ms. Mapes. It is understandable that Republicans would support the outrageous behavior of Viacom/CBS, especially just before Bush’s re-election in 2004. But why did Democrats not castigate Viacom/CBS for what it did.

My theory is that what Viacom/CBS did discredits the entire economic and political system in the United States. As the book explains, the president of Viacom, Sumner Redstone, was formerly a liberal Democrat and was proud of the fact that he was on “Nixon’s enemies list.” However, Redstone publicaly supported George Bush’s re-election in 2004. The federal government regulates Viacom and it was in his financial interests to vote for the party in power. This reminds me of Gabriel Kolko's book, The Triumph of Conservatism: A Reinterpretation of American History, 1900-1916, about the Progressive era from 1900 to 1920.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a warning to people who use the networks as their only source of news. The alphabet networks are anything but unbiased. I long for the "good old days" when all they did was report the news, with integrity.
4 Comments 43 of 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition
What ever the truth was, an important question was raised regarding his military service. The fact that so many people distanced them selves from really answering or pursuing this question really should make us wonder about our own inate sense of fairness or do we just answer those questions hysterically without really acknowledging the true underlying issues that should be addressed. So many reviews seemed tainted by political considerations void of any real thought.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Captivating books from beginning to end. This is a fascinating account of journalism, corporate greed, politics and the rise of the social media/blogging nightmare that has not brought the world closer but brought it to an unhealthy state. Mary Mapes should still be reporting. She provides ample evidence that her story about President Bush's National Guard days was accurate and well-documented. Very well done. I bought it the night after getting back from seeing the movie "Truth," based on this book. I really didn't remember a great deal about the controversy surrounding the story -- except what I had heard or read from other media outlets, which this book points out, were lazy and incompetent in their own treatment of the story. When other journalists should have been upholding this story (some did, most didn't), they were still too afraid of a powerful administration that had yet to lose favor with the American public.
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Format: Paperback
The 60 Minutes II piece on President Bush's Texas Air National Guard service has become such a political football that it is almost impossible to analyze the simple question of whether CBS should have run with it or not. Although the book was entertaining, I was unimpressed with Ms. Mapes's defense of the story and her own motivations. She tells us on page 20 that she will reveal who she is and what she believes -- "with some trepidation" -- and then proceeds to do nothing of the sort, using an old straw-man technique and sarcasm to suggest (but not state) that she is not "an elitist liberal."

Most maddening is her inability to understand that criticism of her journalism and CBS's decision to air the story are warranted EVEN IF the documents later proved to be authentic -- something that remains a subject of intense debate even today. Mapes's "ends-justify-the-means" defense is so mind-numbingly illogical, so lacking in common sense, that it does even more to harm her journalistic reputation than to help it. Note to Mapes: If you had decided that the documents were authentic based on the flip of a coin, would it really matter if, later, after you aired the story, they were proven accurate by more acceptable means? Can't you see the inanity of your position?

Mapes also appears to suffer from smartest person in the room syndrome, repeatedly arguing that her efforts to "mesh" the new documents with Bush's official records showed no inconsistencies. How could it be, she argues, that a forger could create documents that so seemlessly meshed with the official record, with no contradictions? Note to Mapes: That is EXACTLY what a forger would do. The official records were in the public domain and had been known for years.
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