Saturday, October 08, 2005

Lost in the Amazon

Washington Post staff writer Howard Kurtz decided to close out his online column Friday morning by quoting excerpts from the first chapter of Mary Mapes' new book which had been posted at Amazon.com. But strangely the link that Kurtz provided in his piece goes nowhere. It has vanished from Amazon... along with the entire book.

From reading the quotes in Kurtz' column -- most of them having to do with the Dan Rather forged-document flap last year in which Mapes had played such an intimate role -- I suspect that pure embarrassment might have been the culprit. Her words are rife with emotion, denial, defensiveness and sour grapes.

Some examples:

--"I was incredulous that the mainstream press -- a group I'd been a part of for nearly twenty-five years and thought I knew -- was falling for the blogs' critiques. I was shocked at the ferocity of the attack. I was terrified at CBS's lack of preparedness in defending us. I was furious at the unrelenting attacks on Dan. And I was helpless to do anything about any of it."

-- “And right now, on the Internet, it appeared everything was falling apart. I had a real physical reaction as I read the angry online accounts. It was something between a panic attack, a heart attack, and a nervous breakdown. My palms were sweaty; I gulped and tried to breathe. . . . The little girl in me wanted to crouch and hide behind the door and cry my eyes out."

--"Faxing changes a document in so many ways, large and small, that analyzing a memo that had been faxed -- -in some cases not once, but twice -- -was virtually impossible. The faxing destroyed the subtle arcs and lines in the letters. The characters bled into each other. The details of how the typed characters failed to line up perfectly inside each word were lost."

--"To these people, there was no such thing as unbiased mainstream reporting, certainly not when it came to criticism of the president, no matter how tepid. To them, there was Fox News and everything else -- and everything else was liberal and unfair."

I have read many of the blogs that covered the forged-documents and can't remember a single instance of outright anger -- at least not the viciousness that Mapes describes. Bemusement and incredulity come to mind, but nothing even approaching ferocity.

I think that the panic Mapes felt was due more to the rushing realization that she had been caught at a game that the MSM had gotten away with for so many years. The bloggers that she is so angry with were actually only doing the job that her colleagues in the media should have been doing -- especially considering the huge potential the Killian memo story had for changing the course of a presidential election.

And let's face it, the memo wasn't hard to debunk. It was as easy as opening Microsoft Word and typing the contents of the "original" document word for word. Not only did the font match but the line breaks fell in exactly the same places. Anybody in the MSM could have done this... but they didn't and that's the point. Call it bias or just plain incompetence... either way they dropped the ball and the Pajamahadeen came along to pick it up.

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