Thursday, September 29, 2005

Will someone please inform this woman how time zones work?

Rand Simberg has a wonderful fisking of unrependent CBS producer Mary Mapes' self-serving new book. Mapes' head is bloody, but unbowed.

Simberg's post is very very funny. Mapes herself, on the other hand, makes me very very sad, and very very angry. Her statements are so illogical that she makes me wonder whether any sort of critical thinking at all is required for a job as a producer with CBS. Perhaps not.

Mapes writes, among other things:

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!

Anyone who has followed the story knows that the theory of the early posting has been totally discredited by the fact that it involves a confusion between time zones. So Mary either doesn't grasp the time zone concept, or she is disingenuous in using the covering phrase "I was told." Either way, not good.

Mapes also writes:

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.

Yes, Mary, let me try to explain it to you: ordinarily, when a document is proven fake, that fact automatically discredits its contents (some of the comments on the Simberg thread are hilarious along this vein). Mapes seems unable to grasp that simple concept--or perhaps she hopes that we will be unable to grasp it.

Is Mapes stupid, or is she ignorant--or is she banking on the fact that we are stupid and ignorant?


At 12:32 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous mizpants said...

A quote from Octavio Paz: "Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain." And it's true: stupidity is a powerful weapon. Like an octopus threatened by a predator, Mapes releases a cloud of confusion and the water turns murky.

At 12:48 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CBS is in the propaganda business. Mary fits right in.

At 12:54 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous Jeff said...

Mapes had an agenda, and has one still. The MSM will not 'out' her. Bloggers have done so, but the agenda lives on. *sigh*

Doesn't this just get old?

At 1:36 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous Richard Aubrey said...

Ref. your last question, neo.

I have gotten into various kinds of hot water by calling people liars when it was obvious as hell that nobody, nobody on earth, could believe what they were peddling.
Besides insulting me, who would have to be dumb as a box of hammers to believe this, they ignored my proffered cites of the reality.
I am beginning to be, not ashamed, exactly, but sorry for people who, apparently, really are dumb enough to believe that stuff.

Still, my default position is that they know better but hope to encounter some unfortunate on the loose from a group home who might believe them.

On the other hand, the negative math result is explained.
It never seemed reasonable for somebody to set out to say something which would guarantee that any normal person listening would know was a flat lie, on the wisp of hope that somebody, anybody, out there could be fooled.
So you convince, say, fifty people you're a flat liar and convince one of the terminally gullible of your point.
How did that compute?

Maybe they really do believe that stuff.


At 2:37 PM, September 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mapes is blowing smoke. They ran the segment without properly checking the documents' authenticity. Then, when serious questions came up about the documents' authenticity, they asserted that they *had* authenticated them. Then, when challenged to name the experts who had authenticated the documents, they claimed it didn't matter that they were fake.
Mapes ought to review the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists. They ain't 'posed to play it that way.

At 4:23 PM, September 29, 2005, Blogger chuck said...

I think stupidity is a separate quality, not in any sense the opposite of intelligence. Indeed, as in many other disciplines, a high degree of intelligence helps to attain the highest levels of stupidity. So, Mary Mapes is a highly intelligent woman who, through hard work and diligence, has managed to cultivate her stupidity and achieve a degree of mastery that is denied to all but a select few.

At 5:05 PM, September 29, 2005, Blogger Assistant Village Idiot said...

I tend to agree with Chuck on this. We think of stupidity as the opposite of intelligence, but it is a separate quality. Things can only fall as far as they can rise, and demons are made of fallen angels, not fallen microbes.

Paranoia is progressive. These people are not starting from some zero neutral point, but from a belief that Bush has done all sorts of dishonest things that they just can't nail him on, somehow. In that mindset, people will accept very fragmentary evidence.

Rather said much the same thing the other day, amazed that people would "ignore" the content of the document during their effort to disauthenticate the documents. They still believe that the story is true, they just can't prove it and have to drop it. The fact that all the evidence has collapsed has eluded them.

At 7:03 AM, September 30, 2005, Anonymous Tatterdemalian said...

It's like someone trying to pass you a $100 bill demanding that you check it with counterfeit markers, watermark tests, and other counterfeit detecting measures, when you can see plain as day that there is a picture of Bozo the Clown on it instead of Benjamin Franklin.

At 8:11 AM, September 30, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who actually dated a 60 Minutes producer (not Mapes, and briefly), I can tell you that there's an extremely high-pressure, abusive culture at CBS. The on-air newsmen (like Rather) are the "kings", and the producers are the researchers, writers, developers of story ideas, editors, etc. The on-air people are privileged to abuse and berate the producers, and to demand that they "produce" the stories that make the on-air guys look good.
Without defending Mapes's pathetic attempt at self-defense, the cultural reality is that Rather was pushing her to torpedo Bush. That cultural reality means that Mapes was-- not a scapegoat, exactly, because she was herself complicit-- but more of a willing stooge for Rather.

At 9:49 AM, September 30, 2005, Blogger David Blue said...

"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.. ."

This is untrue. The documents were also fatally compromised from a content point of view, and in the conservative military blogsphere, they were demolished as fakes for incorrect uses of military terminology, non-standard dating and every sort of error.

It was just that Little Green Footballs' famous "throbbing memo" and the follow-up testimony by typeface experts was so crushing that nobody needed any extra proof of fraudulence.

At 11:22 AM, October 02, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Self-delusion is a trait of intelligent people, not dumb people. That contributes a lot, and I say a lot, to the stupidity found in academic and otherwise book smart levels.

Think about it, to self-delude yourself concerning some complex metaphorical conjunctions, you would need a mind that can tie all those disparate pieces together into some coherent whole. And then it'll have to eat it.

Stupid people have trouble enough just breathing in correctly, they don't got energy for making stuff up as they go along in life. Nor do they want to.

On a physics level, it takes an equal amount of force to stop another force, to cancel it out. Therefore smart people can beat smart people, and dumb people can beat dumb people, but dumb people can't beat smart people. There's a power gap, a power differential, a power law.

Even guerrila insurgencies require state sponsorship, a safe haven, and a lot of cash to have a chance at beating another nation.

At 11:25 AM, October 02, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...


Of course they believe their own propaganda. There is no other explanation for it. In a contextual, Soviet/Nazi propaganda level, you have to differentiate between the lies used in propaganda to the true goal of propaganda. If the true goal (We are winning, America is good, the UN is bad), is true, then it doesn't matter if the means of persuasion have lies in it.

However, if your means of persuasion have lies in them, and your goal is a lie, then you can't differentiate between the two. The goals become the means, and the means become the goal. So instead of quitting the NG project, they keep going at it as if it is the Holy Grail of goals.

Normal people in normal situations stop doing something if it isn't working, if they want to complete a specific goal. Only true believers do it until they fall over dead.

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