Rather's Comforting Words for Mapes: 'F--k 'Em All'

Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired for her role in Memogate, has come out with her new book, Truth and Duty : The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.

In it she mentions some encouraging words from Dan Rather, offering his support for her in her darkest hour.

I knew I could count on Dan. In tough situations, he became “fightin’ Dan,” someone who told us all to “never back up, never back down, never give up, never give in.” I was glad to hear from him and reassured by his reaction to all of it.

Dan told me he was confident in the story and that he was lucky to work with me. He signed off by saying something that had become a shorthand for us over the years: “F-E-A.” That was code for “F---’Em All,” a sentiment that needed to be expressed from time to time in any newsroom. Dan was too much of a gentleman to say the real thing---at least most of the time. But he knew that when I was under deadline or work pressure I was hard put to find any sentence that couldn’t be improved by the liberal use of the “f”-word. At this point, I deeply appreciated the sentiment.

Mapes also claimed that the first criticism of the documents appeared before 60 Minutes had even ended and before the documents were put up on the CBS website. But the forum hosting the criticism was from the West coast, with an earlier timezone.

Mapes also demonstrated what could be a lack of knowledge about just what it was people were criticizing. She referred to "peripheral spacing" appearing on some typewriters, when the actual term was "proportional spacing."

Within a few minutes, I was online visiting Web sites I had never heard of before: Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Power Line. They were hard-core, politically angry, hyperconservative sites loaded with vitriol about Dan Rather and CBS. Our work was being compared to that of Jayson Blair, the discredited New York Times reporter who had fabricated and plagiarized stories.

All these Web sites had extensive write-ups on the documents: on typeface, font style, and peripheral spacing, material that seemed to spring up overnight. It was phenomenal. It had taken our analysts hours of careful work to make comparisons. It seemed that these analysts or commentators---or whatever they were---were coming up with long treatises in minutes. They were all linking to one another, creating an echo chamber of outraged agreement.

I was told that the first posting claiming the documents were fakes had gone up on Free Republic before our broadcast was even off the air! How had the Web site even gotten copies of the documents? We hadn’t put them online until later. That first entry, posted by a longtime Republican political activist lawyer who used the name “Buckhead,” set the tone for what was to come.

There was no analysis of what the documents actually said, no work done to look at the content, no comparison with the official record, no phone calls made to check the facts of the story, nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface. That was all they had to attack, but that was enough.