Mary Mapes On The Story That Ended Her Career: ‘None Of Us Escaped Unscathed’ | KERA News

Mary Mapes On The Story That Ended Her Career: ‘None Of Us Escaped Unscathed’

Oct 30, 2015

In 2004, the CBS News program 60 Minutes aired a documentary accusing then-President George W. Bush of receiving preferential treatment in the Texas Air National Guard. After the story aired, allegations flew about the authenticity of documents used in the reporting of the story.

The fallout eventually led to the firings of anchor Dan Rather, his producer Mary Mapes, and three others. The movie “Truth” is about that scandal.

It’s based off of a memoir written by Mapes, called Truth and Duty: The Press, the President and the Privilege of Power. The former producer still lives in Dallas, and sat down with KERA's Rick Holter.

Interview Highlights: Mary Mapes…

…On being portrayed by Cate Blanchett:

“For months and months, it felt to me like some elaborate practical joke they had played on me. In some ways, I didn’t really fully process it and believe it until we were down in Australia on set. I could see her there, and everyone kept calling her Mary, so it began to sink in at that point.”

…On her feelings about being fired, rather than asked to resign:

“There’s an incredibly fine line between being asked to resign and being fired. Fired is an F-word. Being asked to resign has a certain genteel ring to it.

I do think people should know that Dan [Rather] was not allowed to go out on his own terms. He was told the day after the election, after the results were in, that he had to step down from the anchor chair. He got to say his peace in his last broadcast.

None of us escaped unscathed. Dan didn’t, and the fact that 42 or 43 years of employment at CBS and actually bringing them a huge amount of wonderful, ageless, legendary work didn’t protect him in this instance.”

…On whether personal politics got in the way of her job:

“Throughout my time in television, I was scrupulous. I never had a yard sign, I had never given one dollar in a donation. I did not have a political agenda, and one of the things that we’ve had happen in this country is the political polarization has led to this incredibly strong belief on one side that the media is tilted against them. That was not my experience. I do think that the notion of a liberal media is completely misguided.”

…On her thoughts on journalism in 2015:

“I think there are people who do absolutely wonderful work. It has turned into a caricature of what I believed it was when I started. I did believe in speaking truth to power – what a tired phrase – but it’s true. I did believe, to some degree, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. I do think you do journalism for the masses. You don’t do it for the powerful, you do it for the powerless.”