Saturday, November 12, 2005

Like a good neighbor, Mary Mapes' defender is there...

Although the Memogate story has transpired over a year ago, we find that the CBS news producer responsible for that segment denies that the documents Dan Rather offered as evidence was fake. Mary Mapes in her new book tells her side of the story, and throughout reminds everyone that the documents were never proven fakes, only that she wasn’t able to pass an impossible threshold of certainty. From reviewing other bloggers’ analyses of her statements, the testimony of one of the authenticator’s in the story, and finally her prevaricating stance during Bill O’Reilly’s interview, I can conclude that Mary Mapes has set a low standard in verifying evidence. Ms. Mapes’ attacks of her critics display a willful ignorance of the workings of the blogosphere and an irrationally elitist attitude regarding the collection of credible information.

So far little has been mentioned about other journalist openly supporting her point of view. Therefore it was with great disappointment to find Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer taking her side in his weekly column. Granted, the Observer is an alternative weekly with the traditional leftist tilt, but Schutze’s a respectable journalist who often writes well-warranted scathing criticism of Dallas city government and the city’s endemic police corruption. He has illuminated the murky world of Dallas politics which helped explain the ambivalent nature of locals like Harriet Meiers. Even the former National Review writer Rod Dreher endorsed his writing.

In contrast to the high quality of his investigative reporting, Schutze’s line of defense for Mapes is embarrassingly weak: Mary Mapes is friendly neighbor of his, he sympathizes with all the pain and anguish his neighbor has experienced from the fallout of Memogate and her well-written book addresses every critical point successfully. In addition, the fact remains the Memo’s were never proven fakes and bloggers are a bunch of rank amateurs compared to Mapes’ self-selected experts. And she’s really a sweet neighbor in a wonderfully eclectic neighborhood, as opposed to those right-wing bloggers. Apparently he can’t trust his lying eyes when it comes to actual visual proof that the documents were fakes. Here’s an excerpt:

I'm an anti-Bush guy, and I know Mary Mapes a little. She's a neighbor. But I hope you'll stick with me even if you're at the other end of the spectrum. Listen, some of my favorite neighbors are pro-Bush, and they're surprisingly decent people.
One of many intriguing points in Mapes' book--a thing I shouldn't have had to be reminded of--is that the documents she and Dan Rather based their story on were never exposed as fakes. In her book due out this week from St. Martin's Press, Mapes insists that the documents are authentic.
The people who made the most adamant accusations at the time were anonymous amateurs on the Internet, not known experts. Somehow all of a sudden everybody and his blog was an expert on 40-year-old typewriters and proportional spacing.
In the book Mapes presents expert opinion and evidence that the accusation--all the stuff about typewriters, superscripts, proportional spacing and typefaces--was just wrong. She says the people who presented those arguments didn't know what they were talking about.
After dealing with the typeface issues, Mapes presents contextual evidence to show that the documents make an uncannily smooth factual mesh with other documents of known provenance. Not the sort of thing one would expect from fakes.
Another telling point to recall is that not even the high tribunal and commission set up by CBS to explore the issue was able to corroborate the accusations of fakery. For all the money CBS spent on its commission, not to mention various private detectives--and for the amount of public bloodletting the network justified on the basis of the commission's findings--you have to think they would have found a way to call those documents fake if they could have.
That was the core accusation against Mapes, Dan Rather's producer for that story: that she bought off on fake documents and fooled her superiors. If CBS could have proved the documents were fake, then all the blame would have been on Mapes and much less of it on CBS.

One of the most clichéd ways in qualifying your radical point of view is by insisting that you have friends with opposite opinions. Schutze’s statement that some of his best friends are conservative Republicans remind me of mildly insulting refrain, “some of my best friends are black.” What amazes me (maybe I’m being too idealistic) is how Schutze can be so gullible in buying Mapes’ account hook, line and sinker. But then, he inadvertently admits he suffers from Bush Derangement Syndrome when begins by admitting his Bush-hatred. But further on in the article, Schutze makes the most distorted comparison:

I'm reading a great book: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, by John M. Barrie. In the section I'm on now, he's telling the story of the terrible division of America in the early 1920s between progressive urban forces and the Ku Klux Klan movement that engulfed much of rural and small-town America.
Decent Southerners like the powerful Percy family in the Mississippi Delta stood up to the Klan. One of their most effective strategies was to ridicule the Klan's penchant for secrecy, for hiding behind masks. Eventually the better impulses of Americans allowed them to see the masks and robes for what they were--emblems of cowardice.
I promise I am not asking you to change your opinion of George W. Bush. I don't even care if you still think the Guard documents are fake. None of that is the point for me.
My point is that the anonymous haters and extremists on the Internet are the Ku Klux Klan of today. They are the vile enemies of fundamental decency.

I sincerely hope Schutze is not making the blanket accusation that bloggers are the new Ku Klux Kan movement. And I also sincerely hope that he thinks those who believed the documents were fakes condemn the despicable behavior of anonymous people threatening Ms. Mapes personally. If Mapes’ claims of such threats are true, then it is an unfortunate, but sadly, knowing her flawed regard of the truth in Memogate, it’s just possible that she’s fudging this to paint herself as the wronged victim. Such a stance is good enough for a multi-million dollar book advance; I wonder whether it’s worth a probable lifetime of self-delusion.

Update: Welcome, LGF readers! Feel free to look through all previous posts written by Relievedebtor and I. We hope the variety of subjects will be of interest to you all. Thanks for dropping by!

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