Mary Mapes: Bush National Guard Story Still "Is a Good Story"

<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-11-09-ABCGMAMapes.jpg" />Mary Mapes, the producer fired from CBS News for her role in the <i>60 Minutes </i>story about President Bush’s National Guard service, has written a book to explain her side of the story. On today’s <i>Good Morning America </i>she talked to ABC’s Brian Ross about that book and the forged documents used in the Bush story.<p /><p>A minute or so into the interview Ross and Mapes got into the question of the documents and whether the responsibility was to prove the documents authentic before airing the story, or if any documents could be used until someone else proved them to be false.</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;But isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;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.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;No, I don't think that's the standard.&quot;</p><p>Video available: <a href="media/2005-11-0-GMA.rm">RealPlayer</a> or <a href="media/2005-11-09-GMA.wmv">Windows Media</a></p><!--break--><p><em></em></p><p /><p /><p>A full transcription of the November 9, interview:</p><p>Charlie Gibson: &quot;We're going to turn next to the woman whose investigative reporting on President Bush backfired and ignited a scandal at CBS News that wound up involving anchorman Dan Rather. Former CBS News producer Mary Mapes tells her side of the story in a new book out called 'Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.' And she's given her first interview to our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, who's here with me this morning, Brian.&quot;</p><p>Brian Ross: &quot;Good morning, Charlie. CBS fired Mary Mapes earlier this year and she's not been heard from until now. She is unrepentant and defiant. Refusing to accept membership in the journalism hall of shame.&quot;</p><p>Mary Mapes: &quot;I loved that job, loved it wildly and suddenly there were pictures of me on the Internet. They were saying mean things about me, saying that I was an angry, man-hating femi-Nazi. I had people driving by my house and taking pictures. I have a little boy, seven years old, and--&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;What did you tell him?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I didn't tell him much.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Mary Mapes was the woman behind the scenes, the producer who researched, wrote and put together Dan Rather's 60 Minutes report on President Bush's National Guard service. A report which Rather and CBS would later apologize for airing.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Friendships were destroyed, trust was abandoned and it was a very, very dark time. It was a very dark time, I mean, it was like having a little, mini witch hunt within the corporation.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;And at the heart of that was Mary Mapes.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Yes. Yes, that's true. I know.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;In the ten months since she was fired, Mapes has been working on a book titled, 'Truth and Duty,' her answer to her enemies in politics, critics in the media and one-time colleagues at CBS News.</p><p>&quot;You're seen by many as the person who brought down Dan Rather and CBS News.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Oh, probably. I think that's an accurate characterization. I think I'm somebody who got fired for trying to do their job in a difficult atmosphere.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Nothing to do with bad journalism?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I don't think I committed bad journalism. I really don't. I don't think I've done a good job for 25 years, woke up on the morning of September 8th and decided to commit professional hari-kari.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;At the heart of the controversy were documents CBS said came from the files of President Bush's then National Guard commanding officer.&quot;</p><p>Dan Rather: &quot;Now, news about CBS News and the question--&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;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.</p><p>&quot;Do you still think that story was true?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;The story? Absolutely.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;This seems remarkable to me that you would sit here now and say you still find that story to be up to your standards.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;But isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;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.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;No, I don't think that's the standard.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;CBS News strongly disagrees. An outside panel appointed by CBS found the story did not meet CBS News standards and that it was caused by a 'myopic zeal' to be first, to report on the President's National Guard service. It's harshest criticism was for Mapes, herself.</p><p>&quot;They essentially suggested you didn't tell the truth.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Right. I know they did.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Basic reporting was faulty and her responses when questioned that others who trusted her down the wrong road, her confidential source was not reliable.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I think what they were hired to do was basically come in and handover some heads and I think that's what they did.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Mapes says she feels CBS network president Les Moonves used the damming report as a pretext to remove Dan Rather as the anchor of the CBS Evening News.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;I also think, frankly, Les Moonves viewed the news department as being kind of an uppity group of folks who thought they worked in news rather than television news. And he wanted them to work in television.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;And you think he used this then?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Sure.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;In her book, Mapes blames plenty of others but as to herself, admits only a few regrets.&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Oh, in a cosmic sense, like so I could be back at work and everything would be fine, like Groundhog Day, if I could turn it back and do it over, maybe. Just from a human standpoint.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;Maybe?&quot;</p><p>Mapes: &quot;Well, Brian, as a human being, but as a journalist that was a good story, that is a good story, that's a story that deserves coverage.&quot;</p><p>Ross: &quot;In a statement CBS says Mary Mapes' disregard for journalistic standards and for her colleagues comes through loud and clear in this interview and her book, which CBS says tries to rewrite history. CBS says the idea that a news organization would not need to authenticate such important source material is 'just one of the troubling, erroneous statements in her account.'&quot;</p>