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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (Nov. 8 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031235195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312351953
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.3 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #250,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 92 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
if you wonder what is wrong with our media today ... Oct. 20 2015
By Kay Ebeling - Published on
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.
51 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Book; Delusional Author Dec 28 2008
By A. Rupp - Published on
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. You are not the only person smart enough to determine what "meshed" with them and what didn't. Your rhetorical questions throughout the book about what a forger would or would not do demonstrate your gullibility and your naivete.

I also found it odd that Mapes -- who desperately wants to be seen as having no political agenda when it comes to her work -- repeatedly makes unnecessary (and often almost childish) political statements that are critical of Bush, Republican policies, and the political right. Perhaps Mapes does not even realize when she is being partisan.

Frankly, I was amazed that this book was the best Mapes could do to support CBS's decision to air the story. Her sources were suspect, her research gap-filled. I'm willing to take her word that she didn't intend to further a political agenda. She seems like a hard-working, pleasant, and loyal person. But this book has left me wondering how anyone can trust anything on the news. If a long-time journalist like Mapes thinks that she had enough hard evidence to go with this important story, I can only imagine what would be deemed satisfactory evidence for the thousands of stories of lesser importance.

I recommend the book. Although not particularly well-written or organized, I found Mapes's behind-the-scenes descriptions of reporting techniques interesting.
40 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Warning Jan. 7 2006
By Dan - Seattle - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Maybe we should be asking ourselves some questions about fundamental fairness Nov. 3 2015
By jwest - Published on
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Failure to pursue the truth, failure to do a true journalist's duty, not explained ... merely denied and whined about. Nov. 20 2015
By JeffFarmer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glad I bought it used, not new. It's 300-plus pages of whining and excuse-making that attempts to explain away Mape's failure to pursue the truth and do her duty. While she repeatedly claims no bias whatever against George W. Bush, she slips up regularly. It's clear that the so-called deadline pressure she was under existed entirely because her network wanted to destroy George W. Bush before the election. Very, very late in the book, she finally tells us that she finally interviewed the secretary who would have typed the letters. The secretary said there was no way she could have typed those letters. Bottom line, 300-plus pages that could have been condensed into about 20.