Mapes on Memos: "I Assumed They Were Forgeries"

The claims that Mary Mapes is now making on her Truth and Duty book tour are as obtuse and embarrassing as those made by CBS News in the 10 days after the 60 Minutes hit job on President Bush aired back on September 8, 2004.

This morning on Fox & Friends, Mapes told co-host E.D. Hill that when she was first given the now-infamous memos, “I assumed they were forgeries,” but became convinced of their reliability by comparing them to official records and talking to others in the National Guard at the time.

Those arguments were laughable back in 2004, and only Mapes (and Dan Rather) seem in utter denial of the obvious: that they were victims of a not-very-convincing hoax.

Mapes, who apparently didn’t even take her coat off when she arrived at FNC’s New York studio, appeared on the November 11 Fox & Friends at about 7:20am EST. After plugging Mapes book, Hill began by asking: “Let’s start out with the basic criticism of the report that you address in here, and that is that the, that those Killian memos, the squadron commander of the President’s down in Texas, that those memos couldn’t be authenticated. Why do you think that it was still right to go ahead and use them?”

Mapes then ridiculously suggested she also thought they were forgeries, but became convinced they were genuine: “For a couple of reasons. We did a number of things to try to authenticate them: We vetted them, we had military consultants who looked at them with us, we looked for all kinds of errors, like you do — it’s almost like police work, because I really, sort of, — when I got them, I assumed they were forgeries, because it’s politics.”

Hill interjected: “Yeah, and it was coming from a known Bush hater,” referring to former National Guard Colonel Bill Burkett, who gave Mapes the forged documents.

Mapes replied, “That’s exactly right, and, and, a whistleblower type and those people are never Mother Teresa. They’re always going to be somebody who has an agenda. So I was okay with that, but you watch their agenda. So I vetted really carefully, I meshed it with all the official documents and it fit perfectly. We had the document analysts, and then I had Killian’s commander corroborate it all, I called him, read him the memos: ‘Were they familiar?’ ‘Yes they were, this is how Killian felt.’”

Mapes’ claim that “Killian’s commander” corroborated the memo’s authenticity fell apart within days of the 60 Minutes story airing. According to the September 13, 2004 CyberAlert, “Saturday’s [September 11, 2004] Los Angeles Times tracked down retired Major General Bobby Hodges, Killian’s supervisor [the man who Mapes claimed corroborated the memos] who told the paper that he ‘now believes the documents are not real’ and that ‘he could not recall any conversations in which Killian had complained about Bush's performance or about the fact that Bush failed in August 1972 to take a physical exam.’”

And, as far as having them “mesh with all of the official documents,” Fox & Friends did a better job of researching the memos’ plausibility than Mapes. Back on September 13, 2004, F&F brought on Colonel Earl Lively, the former director of operations of the Texas Air National Guard. At that time, he said of the memos that CBS was still promoting: “They’re absolutely absurd. Anybody that knew anything about the Guard in that period can just read those memos and see that they are completely unrealistic.”

For more on that, see the September 14, 2004 CyberAlert.

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