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Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power
 
 
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Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power [Hardcover]

Mary Mapes
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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
 
 
 
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

From the Back Cover

"Mary Mapes succeeds in telling her story fearlessly, humorously and compellingly."--The Dallas Morning News
 
A riveting play-by-play of a reporter getting and defending a story that recalls All the  President's Men, Truth and Duty puts readers in the center of the "60 Minutes II" story on George W. Bush's shirking of his National Guard duty.  The firestorm that followed that broadcast--a conflagration that was carefully sparked by the right and fanned by bloggers--trashed Mapes' well-respected twenty-five year producing career, caused newsman Dan Rather to resign from his anchor chair early and led to an unprecedented "internal inquiry" into the story…chaired by former Reagan attorney general Richard Thornburgh. 
 
"…trenchant…"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
 
Truth and Duty examines Bush's political roots as governor of Texas, delves into what is known about his National Guard duty--or lack of service--and sheds light on the solidity of the documents that backed up the National Guard story, even including images of the actual documents in an appendix to the book.  It is peopled with a colorful cast of characters--from Karl Rove to Sumner Redstone--and moves from small-town Texas to Black Rock--CBS corporate headquarters--in New York City. 
 
"…unflinching…"--Vanity Fair
 
Truth and Duty connects the dots between a corporation under fire from the federal government and the decision about what kinds of stories a news network may cover.  It draws a line from reporting in the trenches to the gutting of the great American tradition of a independent media and asks whether it's possible to break important stories on a powerful sitting president.
 
"…illuminating…"--The Buffalo News
 
www.truthandduty.com
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

For twenty-five years, Mary Mapes has been an award-winning television news producer and reporter--the last fifteen of them for CBS News, primarily for The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and 60 Minutes II. In 2004, her last year at CBS, in addition to the George W. Bush National Guard story, she broke the stories of the existence of Strom Thurmond's unacknowledged bi-racial daughter, Essie Mae Washington, and the Abu Ghraib prison tortures, for which she won a Peabody Award in 2005. She began her career at KIRO-TV in Seattle, Washington in 1979. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One 

I woke up smiling on September 9, 2004.
 
My story on George W. Bush's Guard service had run on 60 Minutes the night before and I felt it had been a solid piece. We had worked under tremendous pressure because of the short time frame and the explosive content, but we'd made our deadline and, most important, we'd made news.
 
I was confident in my work and marveled once again at the teamwork and devotion of so many people at 60 Minutes. They really knew how to pull together to get a story on the air. I was also deeply proud of CBS News for having the guts to air a provocative story on a controversial part of the president's past.
 
By the end of the day, all of that would change. By the end of the month, I would be barred from doing my job and under investigation. By the end of the year, my long career at CBS News would essentially be over, after a long, excruciating, and very public beating.
 
But this morning, all that was unimaginable. I was just eager to get into the office and get the reaction to the story. I raced to the hotel room door and pulled The New York Times and USA Today off the floor, curled up on the sofa, and read the front-page coverage of our story. Online, I checked The Washington Post and saw that there, too, it was front-page material.
 
It deserved to be, for a number of reasons.
 
Dan Rather and I had aired the first-ever interview with former Texas lieutenant governor Ben Barnes on his role in helping Bush get into the Texas Air National Guard. Getting Barnes to say yes had taken five years and I thought his interview was a home run. Finally, there were on-the-record, honest, straight-ahead answers from a man who intimately knew the ins and outs of the way Texas politics and privilege worked in the state National Guard units during the Vietnam War. Ben Barnes's version of events was crucial to understanding a significant chapter in President Bush's life from thirty years ago, an important key to unlocking the questions many Americans had about the man in the White House.
 
What had George W. Bush done during the volatile Vietnam years? Who was he back then, really? Was he a young man who volunteered to pilot fighter jets off the country's coastline, a brave young flier ready and willing to risk his life in the skies over Vietnam?
 
Or was George W. Bush--like so many well-connected young men in the Vietnam era--simply doing whatever he could to avoid fighting or flying anywhere near the jungles of Southeast Asia? Did he complete his service in the National Guard or walk away without looking back simply because his family's status meant that he could?
 
Did he do his duty? Did he tell the truth about his time in the National Guard?
 
Our story on September 8, 2004, also presented never-before-seen documents purportedly written in 1972 and 1973 by Bush's then-commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian. Killian died in 1984 and his important testimony on Bush's service had not been part of the years of debate that raged over whether the president had fulfilled his Guard duties.
 
These documents appeared to show that Killian had not approved of Bush's departure from the Guard in 1972 to work on a U.S. Senate campaign for Republican Winton Blount in Alabama. They showed that Killian had ordered Bush to take a physical that was never completed and that Killian had been pressured from higher up to write better reports on Bush than were merited by the future president's performance. The Killian memos, as they came to be called, turned on its head the version of George W. Bush's Guard career that the White House had presented. These new memos made Bush look like a slacker, not an ace pilot.
 
I had spent weeks trying to get these pieces of paper and every waking hour since I had received them vetting each document for factual errors or red flags.
 
I worked to compare the new memos with Bush's official records, which I had received since 1999. They meshed in ways large and small.
 
Furthermore, the content, the essential truth of the story contained in the memos, had been corroborated by Killian's commander Gen. Bobby Hodges in a phone conversation two days before the story aired. On September 6, he had said the memos reflected Killian's feelings at the time and this was what he remembered about how Killian had handled Bush's departure from the Guard.
 
We had a senior document analyst named Marcel Matley fly to New York to look at all the documents we had, the official documents that had been previously released by the White House as well as the "new" ones. After examining them for hours, blowing up signatures and comparing curves, strokes, and dots, he gave his best opinion on their authenticity. Since the documents were copies, not originals, he could not offer the 100 percent assurance that came by testing the ink or the paper.
 
But he said he saw nothing in the typeface or format to indicate the memos had been doctored or had not been produced in the early 1970s. The analyst also vouched for the Killian signatures after comparing them with a number of other Killian signatures on the photocopied official documents. A second analyst, Jim Pierce, agreed with Matley after examining two of the new documents, one of which had a signature. Pierce came to this judgment after comparing our memos to the official records and signatures.
 
I felt that I was in the clear, that I had done my job, and that the story met the high standards demanded by 60 Minutes.
 
I called my husband and son to say good morning, just as I had done every morning in all the years past when I was out of town. As always, my husband told me my work had looked great and my seven-year-old boy told me to come home as fast as I could and to bring him a surprise. It was our ritual.
 
I was staying at my favorite home away from home, The Pierre, a grand old New York hotel. Without my CBS discount, I never would have seen the inside of the place.
 
The Pierre is also quiet, close to the office, and sweetly old-fashioned. Old-fashioned enough that Kitty Carlisle apparently still goes there often for "highballs," according to the staff, along with a male friend and their respective nurses. I once ran into her in the ladies' room, looking like she had just stepped off the set of To Tell the Truth, mink capelet and all.
 
The elevator operators and doormen were older, too, and they were kind, always looking out for me. They knew me because of my regular visits and irregular hours, and comfortingly clucked over how hard I was working when I stayed there.
 
On this trip, they had seen me leaving very early and coming in very late for the past few days. I had been staggering out to catch a cab to work by 9:00 a.m. and arriving back exhausted at about 3:00 a.m. after the bar had closed and the hotel was buttoning up for the night. By the time I arrived, there was often no one in the lobby except a bellman, me, and perhaps a gaudily dressed female guest or two.
 
I often wondered what those women thought I did for a living. Disheveled and limping, straggling along with a heavy briefcase full of files, I entered the hotel lobby each night looking like a failing hooker for that small subset of customers who preferred exhausted, unkempt professional women.
 
On this morning, though, my energy was back. I was exhilarated by another success.
 
When I got to work, my mood was reinforced. I made rounds to thank the video editors who had worked so hard to get the story put together in time for air. Their jobs are not for the faint of heart or for people who panic when time is short or the workload is overwhelming.
 
I ran into other producers and correspondents and collected hugs and kisses and congratulations. There were jokes about what we would do as a follow-up. Dan and I had broken the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story in late April. Now this. My team, the people at 60 Minutes, and Dan all felt like we were on a roll.
 
The new executive producer of the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes, Josh Howard, gave me a hug and congratulations, following up on a flattering e-mail he had sent me around midnight the night before: "I was just sitting here thinking about how amazing you are. I'm buckled in, ready to see where you'll take us next. Let's go!"
 
There was no hint of what was to come, no whiff of doubt about the work we had done on the story.
 
I saw CBS vice president Betsy West standing in the building's eighth-floor lobby, waiting for the slow, unreliable elevators, and we laughed at how awful the previous night had been, how hurried and harried we were, trying to get the story on. There had been shouting and impatience and flashes of anger. She laughed and said, "That's as close to the sausage making as I ever want to get." I told her that we'd  gotten sausage all over us and that was as close as I ever wanted to come to missing my deadline. We both felt good about the story and agreed that it had looked polished on the air, in contrast to the carnage left behind in the editing rooms and the offices where we had done our scripting.
 
This behind-the-scenes chaos was not particularly unusual in television news. For fifteen years at CBS I had pushed back against deadlines to perfect a script, to change a shot, to make a story better. I had never missed a deadline, never put on a story that I did not feel comfortable with.
 
There was nothing more important to me, or to any of us at 60 Minutes, than getting the story right, no matter how limited the time or how tough the topic. I had a well-earned reputation for being able to "crash," to get a story on quickly and competently.
 
For whatever reason--probably because I grew up in a large, loud, distracting family--I was able to focus when others couldn't. I could keep writing when the room was full of people yelling at the top of their lungs...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From AudioFile

Mary Mapes reads like a fine storyteller. Further, the conversational style of her book lends itself well to the audio format. Mapes begins and ends her book discussing the event that made her well-known: the CBS "60 Minutes II" segment that claimed to have documents from Texas Air National Guard officers criticizing George W. Bush for failing his duties as a young man. Those documents were called fakes by critics, CBS apologized for the story, and Mapes was fired. Herein Mapes explains why she believes that the claims of that program were legitimate. The text also contains her views on the role of a free press and its mode of operation. M.L.C. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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