Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Planet of the Mapes

Mary Mapes, in her press release excoriating CBS for firing her over Rathergate insists that it was not her liberal bias against George W. Bush that incited her actions, rather (no pun intended) she was merely seeking the truth through normal, but aggressive, journalistic methods.

Here is an excerpt from Captains Quarters (HT: Galley Slaves) that I think debunks that point of view:
Why did Mapes, who had been hot on the story for weeks and under tremendous "competitive pressure" to beat the other news outlets, let a free-lancer get Burkett first? The Thornburgh-Boccardi panel apparently never asked her, but the best conclusion is that Mapes wanted some distance between herself and [the nut-ball] Burkett initially. She obviously knew Burkett's reputation, and didn't want to get stung by the unstable and unreliable source.

On page 61 [of the Thornburgh-Boccardi Report], we get the answer with this exchange of e-mail between Smith and Mapes. Smith outlines a "hypothetical" deal for Burkett (emphasis mine):

Today I am going to send the following hypothetical scenario to a reliable, trustable editor friend of mine . . .

What if there was a person who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal to help get us the information? What kinds of turnaround payment schedules are possible, keeping in mind the book probably could not make it out until after the election . . . . What I am asking is in this best case hypothetical scenario, can we get a decent sized advance payment, and get it turned around quickly.

Mapes' reply? "[T]hat looks good, hypothetically speaking of course."

Thus Mapes agreed to pursue financial rewards with a source that could influence the outcome of the election -- not because that person had evidence of wrongdoing by George Bush or even that he had benefitted from the wrongdoing of others, but simply because Burkett could supply them documents that would influence the election, regardless of their reliability. Mapes knew that [CBS Anchor, John] Roberts already considered Burkett a crank after working with him, and she didn't care.

How can that not be positive and convincing evidence of bias?


Read the whole thing here.

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