Rathergate: Mapes Knew Bush Volunteered for Vietnam

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Bernard Goldberg points out a fact that many people missed in the controversy over the “Rathergate” fraudulent memos: Rather’s producer, Mary Mapes, knew all along that the premise of the report was false.

Until now, the controversy over the Rather/Mapes story has centered almost entirely on one issue: the legitimacy of the documents – a very important issue, indeed. But it turns out that there was another very important issue, one that goes to the very heart of what the story was about – and one that has gone virtually unnoticed. This is it: Mary Mapes knew before she put the story on the air that George W. Bush, the alleged slacker, had in fact volunteered to go to Vietnam.

Who says? The outside panel CBS brought into to get to the bottom of the so-called “Rathergate” mess says. I recently re-examined the panel’s report after a source, Deep Throat style, told me to “Go to page 130.” When I did, here’s the startling piece of information I found:

Mapes had information prior to the airing of the September 8 [2004] Segment that President Bush, while in the TexANG [Texas Air National Guard] did volunteer for service in Vietnam but was turned down in favor of more experienced pilots. For example, a flight instructor who served in the TexANG with Lieutenant Bush advised Mapes in 1999 that Lieutenant Bush “did want to go to Vietnam but others went first.” Similarly, several others advised Mapes in 1999, and again in 2004 before September 8, that Lieutenant Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam but did not have enough flight hours to qualify.

This comes as no surprise, because the entire enterprise absolutely reeked of dishonesty, from the fake documents to the way Rather and CBS initially tried to cover it up and/or claim the documents were genuine.

It does raise an interesting question, though: since Mapes was apparently willing to cover up what she knew about Bush volunteering for Vietnam, did she also know all along that the documents were frauds? Most people have assumed that Mapes and CBS were tricked into airing the memos — but what if it was deliberate?

One of the really striking things about the Rathergate incident is how little curiosity the rest of the media had when it came to finding out the truth of what happened — completely uninterested in finding out the source of the documents, and completely uninterested in examining how the obviously phony memos could have even gotten onto 60 Minutes in the first place.

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