Stonewalled at the Times

Mary Mapes is the award-winning CBS News producer responsible for the 60 Minutes story subsumed under the rubric of Rathergate. The story disgraced CBS in the 2004 presidential campaign and CBS commissioned an investigation to determine what had happened. The investigation was undertaken by former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh and former AP president/ceo Louis Boccardi together with a team working under their direction. When they released their report the following January, CBS promptly fired Mapes for her role in the disgrace. The report also makes her out to be an intransigent liar.

Mapes returned later that year with a memoir providing her own account of the affair, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. I read Mapes’s book and wrote about it in a column for the Weekly Standard; my column is accessible online here. Although interesting as part of a case study in media bias, the book is an insane piece of garbage.

Upon publication the New York Times gave the book featured treatment and a respectful if critical review by Jonathan Alter; Alter’s review is accessible online here. A careful reader can infer some of the difficulties with Mapes’s book from Alter’s guarded review, but he finds imaginary virtues in it.

The case of Sharyl Attkisson provides an interesting contrast to that of Mapes. Attkisson was a long-time investigative reporter for CBS News; she resigned from CBS earlier this year at the top of her game. In 2013 alone Attkisson received two Emmy awards for her investigative reporting. Over the past few years Attkisson has broken stories on the Fast & Furious gunrunning scandal, failed green-energy investments, Benghazi and the Obamacare website. She left CBS in frustration with what she saw as a liberal bias which was not conducive to her work in the Age of Obama.

Now Attkisson returns to tell her story in Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation and Harassment in Obama’s Washington. It is easily one of the books of the year. It provides compelling testimony to the problem of media bias from inside the whale.

Yet the Times has not seen fit to review Attkisson’s book. Running a search on her name, I find only the book’s listing at number 5 on the Times best-sellers in politics here with the note: “An investigative reporter complains of harassment and intimidation by the Obama administration.”

What can we say? Sounds like an interesting book!


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