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

Mary Mapes


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Book Description

Nov. 8 2005
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 account 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; First Edition edition (Nov. 8 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031235195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312351953
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,310,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.


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Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  73 reviews
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning Jan. 7 2006
By Dan - Seattle - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Book; Delusional Author Dec 28 2008
By A. Rupp - Published on Amazon.com
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.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lord Of The Rings Is A Better Fantasy July 9 2014
By M. McDougall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
If the liars behind this failed attempt to get Kerry elected had just used an old typewriter it would have worked and the press may have been able to steal an election. Just think about that. Now there's going to be a movie based on this book?
19 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fake but accurate. Well, fake anyway... Nov. 26 2008
By Roger J. Buffington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mary Mapes' story about President Bush's National Guard service was "fake but accurate" we are told. This book, however, is just fake. Every once in a while I force myself to read a book by someone on the other side of the political divide from myself. This book was a bad choice. Now, Mapes is good at recasting facts and history to present herself in a good light. But the fact is that she was grinding this particular axe for many years, and was delighted to accept "evidence" that was incontrovertibly fake in order to "prove" a story that was equally fake.

This book's real bias is evident from its title. The "power" that Mapes really wants to see is the privilege and power of the media to distort the news, or tell outright lies and get away with it.

American politics will be in a bad way as long as the news media cuts in only one direction, and is infested by political axe-grinders like Mapes. Thank goodness that the internet and other "new media" are rapidly destroying the media Oligopoly's ability to distort the news to the American people.
105 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Warning for American Who Value a Free and Independent Press Dec 1 2005
By Ed Powell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Unlike many of the "reviewers" on this Web site, I have read Mary Mapes' book and it is excellent. All concerned Americans should read this book which tells the story of the CBS "Documents Scandal" from the perspective of the CBS 60 Minutes II producer who lived it. For those who do not have an anti-CBS or Dan Rather agenda and who read this with an effort to get the truth rather than the hate-filled rhetoric of a partisan right-wing blogger, you will come away with a lot of respect for Mapes. She was a hard-working, dedicated, and professional journalist. She had award winning programs to her credit with the Abu Ghraib story and the sensitive, warm story of Senator Strom Thurmond's illegitimate bi-racial daughter. Her bravery got her into Watts to cover the Rodney King story and her story to find out the truth about George W. Bush's service or lack thereof in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War got her fired. Not because she didn't tell the truth...she got a former Lt. Governor of Texas to admit he had used his influence to get Bush a slot in the guard unit when others could not get in. She got the secretary of Bush's commanding officer to verify that the information in the questioned documents was correct regarding the situation with Bush's failure to take his flight physical and the pressure brought to bear on Bush's commander to give him an outstanding officer rating when he did not deserve one. Her confirmations of these facts went unnoticed in the hail storm of hatefilled partisan blogs written by GOP operatives and partisan hacks who wanted to kill the story. Anyone who understands the Bush administration's lack of respect for honesty and fairness will quickly see where the attacks on Mapes began and from where they were directed. They will also see that CBS out of fear of the Bush administration was willing to throw an award winning producer to the wolves and thereby give credence to the partisan bloggers and Internet liars that they did not deserve. Mapes was more loyal to CBS and to Dan Rather than they were to her, although Rather has had nothing but praise for her. If you do not come away from this book fearing for a free and independent press, uncontrolled by the government, and with a better appreciation of how the Bush Administration controls the press in this country, then you need to search your reasoning ability for a lack of objectivity and chalk it up to the kind of partisan hatred that is dividing this country in a very dangerous way! Mary Mapes made some mistakes but NO ONE HAS YET PROVED THE DOCUMENTS WERE FAKES! Many of the claims made by the bloggers have proved to be wrong and misleading. Many of the bloggers had an agenda and a mission to destroy CBSand Dan Rather and they almost succeeded. Instead, Mary Mapes has suffered unfairly for telling the Truth! Remember that and remember that she found people to substantiate the information contained in the documents. Who do you really believe? Read her book and then decide!

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