In the Watergate myth, two intrepid young reporters — guided by a conscientious whistle-blower sickened at the scent of fascism he has found at the center of power, and backed up by a courageous and crusty editor — bring down the most dangerous tyrant in U.S. history.
It is the Great Myth of American journalism.
Now, thanks to Mark Felt’s family wanting to get the old boy some publicity and themselves some of Woodward’s stash, the Great Myth has been demolished.
Watergate involved two conspiracies. The first, now ancient history, was the botched cover-up of a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, in which President Nixon was briefly complicit. But we now know there was a far larger and more successful conspiracy involving the FBI’s No. 2, to rifle confidential files, to help The Washington Post bring down a president who had topped its enemies list since Joe McCarthy had gone to his grave.
Who was Mark Felt? A "hero," outraged by the crimes he saw in the White House, Ben Bradlee tells fawning interviewers.
It won’t wash. Felt ran "black bag" jobs for J. Edgar and had to know of the taps and tapes of Dr. King that yielded the dirt the boys sent to Coretta that broke her heart. Is it credible this same Felt, discovering Segretti sent 200 pizzas to a Muskie fund-raiser, became so "shocked, shocked" he had no choice but leak to the Post to bring down the president of the United States?
The Post says Felt had no place else to go, as the White House and FBI chief Pat Grey were impeding the investigation. But if that is true, why wasn’t the Post’s big story headlined, "Justice Aides Say White House Impeding Watergate Investigation"? Why were the stories all about Segretti and the Haldeman slush fund?
The answer is obvious. After a week’s botched attempt to get the CIA to tell the FBI to narrow its investigation, the Nixon White House had thrown in the towel. An honest and wide-ranging investigation was underway. It was only corrupted by Felt himself, a deceitful cop who carries the moniker of the porn star of the dirtiest movie of the day.
Why did Woodward, Bernstein and Felt cover up the identity of Deep Throat? By Occam’s razor, the simple explanation is often the right one. Felt kept his mouth shut so as not to be prosecuted for his crimes and be disgraced before his FBI compatriots. Woodward and Bernstein covered up his identity so that no one knew that Mark Felt was their real managing editor and they were being run by the FBI.
The 1973 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting should be hanging in the J. Edgar Hoover Building.
Felt lied for 30 years to cover up his sins and crimes because he was ashamed of them. But because Ben Bradlee cannot admit what Felt’s own behavior testifies to — that he did a dishonorable thing — the Post is putting a high moral gloss on a squalid act by an FBI agent who violated his oath out of bitterness at being passed over for Hoover’s job. And Judas sure knew where to take his information.
In 1980, ex-President Richard Nixon went down to Foley Square to testify on Felt’s behalf. One wonders what Felt thought, as he listened to that decent old man testifying for him and trying to save him.
For news, sports coverage, columns, editorials and features, the Post is justly a famous newspaper. But the Post is something else, as well — the oppo-research, propaganda and attack arm of a Liberal Establishment that is as vicious in its tactics as the old NICPAC ever was. It kills its political enemies. And to learn that the Post, in all those years it was conducting its vendetta against Nixon, was as wired in to the FBI as Walter Winchell was to Hoover, is to begin to understand what Watergate was really all about.
Watergate was a coup d’etat by an obsessed press, acting in collusion with corrupt elements of the national police to bring down a president who had routed the Left in a 49-state landslide. By 1972, the liberals couldn’t beat Nixon any other way.
Woodward and Bernstein were bit players, and all the yapping of the kennel-fed Post poodles like David Broder will not shut down the questions the Felt revelations have raised about the second conspiracy of Watergate — the big one, the one that worked.
More spilled out Friday. Mrs. Ben Bradlee alleged she was the victim of a rape attempt, at 18, by conservative Sen. John Tower.
"(D)uring Tower’s confirmation hearings," wrote Sally Quinn, "two FBI officials showed up at my front door and asked me to tell them about the incident. I refused to confirm it. ‘But you don’t understand,’ one of them said to me, ‘this will be totally confidential.’
"’Are you kidding?’ I said. ‘Where do you think The Washington Post gets its stories? From guys like you who leak.”’
How many other Post Pulitzers belong in field offices of the FBI?