Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power Hardcover – Nov 8 2005
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“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 the Paperback edition.
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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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. According to Kolko, it was businessmen who promoted and supported the regulation of business during this era.
Justice and morality concern the Ten Commandments and following one's conscience. Morality applies to families and justice applies to governments. It was not unjust for Mr. Redstone to vote for Bush because a lot of people voted for his Democratic opponent for selfish reasons. Nor was it immoral for Sumner to vote for a Republican because you can only behave immorally to your family. Likewise, it is not unjust or immoral for politicians to lie to the American people. However, it is immoral for someone not running for political office to lie to the American people and fire someone for doing their job.
Political capitalism in the United States is fundamentally just because it provides its citizens with law and order and elaborate system of property rights. However, a large part of political capitalism in the United States is unjust because some people benefit at the expense of others. In many governments, it is government officials and their supporters that get high incomes at the expense of its citizens. The immoral conduct of Viacom/CBS brings to mind the unjust aspects of the American political economy. Democrats and Republicans prefer to pretend Viacom/CBS News did nothing immoral.
Another example of this kind of nation wide cover up of embarrassing behavior concerns an article published in the American Journal of Physics abut biological evolution (“Entropy and evolution,” Am. J. Phys., Vol. 76, No. 11, November 2008 ). The article explicitly criticizes a Christian apologist and disseminates misinformation about evolutionary biology to do this. This anti-religion pseudoscience disgraces every physicist in the United States. But everyone covers up this mistake because the idea that a peer-reviewed physics article touching upon religion could be absurd is too embarrassing.