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MinM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-13-12 07:59 AM
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From Watergate to WikiLeaks
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Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 08:00 AM EDT

From Watergate to WikiLeaks

A new book demolishes the myth of Deep Throat -- and the romance of heroic journalism

By Jefferson Morley

In the movie All the Presidents Men, the shadowy high-level source known only as Deep Throat tells Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, Follow the money. The fact that this never happened the words were invented by screenwriter William Goldman detracted little from the scenes power or the movies influence. It encapsulated a romantic myth of journalism: An intrepid reporter finds a wise whistle-blower who schools him in the abuse of power. In the movie and political memory, the top-level source enabled the crusading reporters to bring down a corrupt president.

That myth died in May 2005 when Vanity Fair revealed that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, a former acting deputy director of the FBI, who, it turns out, was quite comfortable with the abuse of power. After the Watergate saga, he was convicted of authorizing illegal break-ins. Now, Max Hollands ingenious new book, Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat, reconstructs how Felt used Woodward and the Post to advance his true agenda, which Holland argues convincingly was not doing justice but becoming director of the FBI.

At its best, this dandy book (critic Jack Shafers word) illuminates an underappreciated reality of Washington: journalisms role in the clash of factions within the U.S. government. Holland sets the Watergate story in the context of what historian Stanley Kutler calls the war of FBI succession. This was the power struggle that erupted after the death of longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover in May 1972. When the Watergate burglars were arrested six weeks later, Felt started slipping tidbits of information to Woodward, a 30-year-old reporter in the Post Metro section who, by his own admission, had been sucking up to Felt for close to two years...

During the run-up to the Iraq war, the pro-war faction in the White House and Pentagon leaked closely held (and completely unfounded) information to New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Their purpose was not rhetorical but practical. Millers scoops were not only intended to influence public opinion; they were also intended to discredit the go-slow faction in the State Department and CIA and justify their case for war in the administrations war councils. Some say Miller fell in love with her sources, though her subsequent move to the conservative think tank suggests that she may have aided the pro-war faction out of conviction... /

Watergate's Lessons for the New media Age
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