Ousted CBS Producer Comes Out Swinging
After a year of silence about the biggest scandal in CBS News history, Mary Mapes has plenty to say -- about George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Les Moonves, her father, bloggers, the mainstream press and others who she believes contributed to her downfall.
What took her so long?
CBS producer Mary Mapes with British soldiers and a young Afghan in Afghanistan in 2001. (Family Photo)
"I was extremely battered," she said in an interview yesterday. "I'd had months and months of having my head kicked around a soccer stadium by much of the Western world. I needed some time to regroup."
Mapes is now pushing a book, called "Truth and Duty," about the botched "60 Minutes II" story on Bush's National Guard service that led to her firing. She ladles out plenty of blame but largely defends what she still considers a fair piece of reporting, although an independent panel accused CBS of having "failed miserably" to authenticate the documents before rushing the story to air.
"I'm a human being; I do things wrong from the first breath I take in the morning," Mapes said. "I don't in any way feel I am without responsibility in this. . . . I probably shouldn't have been as pliable or as malleable as I was" when her bosses were finalizing the story. "This is a huge shortcoming. I didn't know how to say no. . . . I was trying very hard to please them."
She praises Dan Rather as "a tremendously loyal person" and says the story cost him his anchor job. "Dan was betrayed by a number of people, certainly by the company he has gotten up and worked for every morning for 40 years," Mapes said.
She is disdainful of Moonves, the CBS president who ordered the outside investigation. "He doesn't know journalism from dirt farming," Mapes said. In the book, noting that Moonves courted and then married "Early Show" anchor Julie Chen, she writes: "I used to say everything Les knows about journalism had been sexually transmitted. Now I know even that hasn't taught him much."
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