Before Bernard Goldberg gets any more excited about the “secret” revelations on page 130 of the 2005 Boccardi-Thornburgh report, he should really check out another page in the whole Dan Rather vs. CBS vs. President Bush saga.
Mr. Goldberg, please turn your attention to page 65 of Truth and Duty, by Mary Mapes.
Let us explain.
Last night on the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, Bernard Goldberg toldanchor Bill O’Reilly that he had uncovered an exclusive scoop “about a lost crucial fact in the so-called ‘Rathergate’ scandal.”
Mr. Goldberg directed viewers to an article he had posted moments earlier on his personal Web Site, entitled “A ‘Lost’ Fact in the ‘Rathergate’ Mess–Part 1.”
Therein, Mr. Goldberg reminded his readers that in the fall of 2004, in the aftermath of a flawed story by Dan Rather on 60 Minutes II about President Bush’s military service in the Texas Air National Guard, that CBS had formed an independent panel to investigate what had gone wrong. In January 2005, the panel issued its findings.
Mr. Goldberg explained that recently he had gone back and reread part of the Boccardi-Thornburgh report after receiving a tip for a source “Deep Throat style” telling him to “Go to page 130.”
Sure enough, there on page 130, Mr. Goldberg discovered what he found to be an amazing revelation about Mary Mapes, the CBS News staffer who produced the flawed story (and who was later fired from CBS because of it). According to the panel, prior to airing the 60 Minutes story–which essentially detailed how a young Mr. Bush had used family connections to avoid combat in Vietnam–Ms. Mapes had been told by sources that Mr. Bush had actually volunteered to go to Vietnam.
Mr. Goldberg was amazed. President Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam! Sources had told Mapes! How come nobody had ever written about this crucial part of the story?!?!
More from his post:
This information, despite the fact that it has been available since the CBS report came out four years ago, has remained a secret to almost everybody both in and out of the media — one lonely fact in a 234- page report loaded with thousands of facts, and overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the documents.
I made an online check and discovered that while a few websites noted the CBS finding, the story got no ink (that I could find) on the news pages of any big mainstream paper. I did manage to find two opinion pieces about the CBS mess – one in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the other in the Miami Herald — that briefly, and only in passing, mentioned the “Bush volunteered” angle. But that was it! A check of network newscasts turned up nothing. And when I questioned two journalists with intimate knowledge of the story, both said Mapes never shared her information with them.
Perhaps not. But Ms. Mapes did eventually share this “secret” information with someone else. Namely, the entire English-reading world.
To wit: In her 2005 book Truth and Duty, Ms. Mapes writes explicitly about the “Bush volunteered,” angle. Specifically, on page 65, she writes about a 1999 interview she conducted with Maurice Udell, who was George W. Bush’s trainer in the 147th Fighter Group in Houston in the late 1960s.
Here’s the passage:
Udell clearly liked his young trainee, describing him as “always good at coming up with a joke.” As for discipline problems, Udell said that young Bush “responded very well. I thought he’d be a great American and fighter pilot.”
Had Bush joined the Guard to avoid Vietnam? “That’s bullshit, that he avoided the war,” Udell told me in 1999. “They try to put George down…He performed very well. I’m not saying that because he’s running.”
Udell told me that Bush had wanted to go to Vietnam.
As a fan of Mr. Goldberg’s investigative reporting on HBO’s Real Sports, we hope part two of his “Lost” series turns up something a little bit more juicy.