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January 10, 2005

Book Deal in Return "Information That Could Possibly Change the Momentum of an Election"?

Smith, an anti-Bush researcher working with Mapes on the story, mused on how he could induce Bill Burkett to turn over the "files [he had] reassembled" with this email to Mary Mapes:

Today I am going to send the following hypothetical secnario to a reliable, trustable [sic] editor friend of mine...

What if there was a person [i.e., Burkett] who might have some information that could possibly change the momentum of an election but we needed to get an ASAP book deal to help get us the information? What kind of turnaround payment schedules are possible, keeping in mind the book probably could not make it out until after the election... [NOTE the non-journalist, political emphasis onElection Day.] What I am asking in this best case hypothetical scenario, can we get a decent sized avdvanced payment, and git turned around quickly.

Then they will respond with some possible scenarios of what they could do. When we got to Burket's house I will have at least some sencarios to tshow Burkett about what could happen if he played ball with the documents. If he shows us what we want, then I can call my friend and tell him the real detalis and start the process.

[Emphasis added.]

Did Mapes recoil from the suggestion of pay-for-play?

Ummm, not exactly:

Mapes responded in an e-mail to Smith's proposal, stating "that looks good, hypothetically speaking of course."

Smith says this was his idea, and "not a 60 Minutes deal," but plainly Mapes of 60 Minutes was receptive to the plan-- "hypothetically," of course.

The Report notes, rather obviously:

To the extent that any of the other proposals outlined by Smith were offered to or discussed with [Burkett] as a possible enticement to convince him to give the documents to 60 Minutes Wednesday, such an offer would have constituted a clear violation of CBS News' Stard II-I as an "unethical newgathering practice."

Well.... Kinda.

Fairness Update: Smith's email is cast as what he would say to a book publisher, in order to induce him to give Burkett a deal; obviously, "changing the momentum of an election" would be a selling point, no matter what one's politics.

So that isn't necessarily what Smith wanted; it's what he thought he might pitch to an editor.

Still, it establishes that these cats were perfectly aware of what they were doing.

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posted by Ace at 03:03 PM

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