How Many Other Mary Mapes Are Working In The Mainstream Media?

by John Hawkins | November 14, 2005 2:37 pm

Mary Mapes, the disgraced former CBS producer who was fired over the fake memos CBS was peddling during the election last year, is still out there telling anyone who’ll listen that they were legit. Here is an excerpt of note from her appearance on Good Morning America[1]:

Ross: “After 12 days of defending them, CBS and Dan Rather later admitted they could not vouch for the authenticity of the documents and that they should not have been used and the story should not have aired.

“Do you still think that story was true?”

Mapes: “The story? Absolutely.”

Ross: “This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards.”

Mapes: “I’m perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there’s proof that I haven’t seen.”

Ross: “But isn’t it the other way around? Don’t you have to prove they’re authentic?”

Mapes: “Well, I think that’s what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet.”

Ross: “Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn’t that really what journalists do?”

Mapes: “No, I don’t think that’s the standard.”

So in essence, according to Mapes, it’s not the responsibility of the media to prove to the public that its stories are true, it’s the responsibility of the public to prove that its stories are false to the satisfaction of the media.

It doesn’t matter that Mapes never got the original memos, that her source admitted he lied about where he got the documents, that the memos — which are supposedly from the early 70s — are written in the default font of Microsoft Word, or that countless experts, even some that were hired by CBS, have said these documents can’t be authenticated — that’s not good enough for Mary Mapes.

Now some of you are probably thinking, “Come on, Hawkins, Rathergate is old news, so why does this matter?”

Why does it matter? Because you have to wonder how many other Mary Mapes-types are in the mainstream media just throwing anything out there as long they think it hurts a Republican President. How many people like Mary Mapes are deciding which sources are credible or whether a story based on anonymous sources holds up? Can you trust stories at the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and the New York Times if you have people like Mary Mapes making decisions about what goes into the paper and what doesn’t?

So how many Mary Mapes are out there? Well, we can’t know for sure, but it would seem to be very significant that almost all of the criticism being aimed at Mapes[2] is coming from people on the right. Apparently, the “Mapes-standard” isn’t bothersome enough to people on the left (other than her former employers at CBS), the sort of people who control the flow of news in the MSM, to merit comment.

Perhaps that’s because criticism of Mapes might feel a bit hypocritical given the way many MSM publications and shows handle the news themselves. After all, if you’re ignoring or burying good news about Iraq and the economy, hyping terrorist attacks, quoting 3 or 4 Iraqis you know are out of the mainstream and trying to present their view as common, and running dubious stories based on anonymous quotes, it’s hard to be too critical of someone like Mary Mapes.

  1. excerpt of note from her appearance on Good Morning America:
  2. almost all of the criticism being aimed at Mapes:

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