The Curious Case of Deep Throat

In the history of journalism, the turn of the screw on protecting sources happened in a landmark decision is disturbing. Technology has created both instant successes and also many cover-ups of journalistic errors. Take the current case of “weapons of mass destruction” and the “leak” about Valerie Plame and her diplomatic husband Joe Wilson. Who knew? What was the offense of people knowing? Where did the information come from? When did Joe Wilson start telling people about his wife’s ‘secret occupation’, and of course why must we go on in this way? According to the National Review’s, Clifford May, the culprit is the vindictive ‘diplomat’ himself, “It appears they would have been tipped off by Joe Wilson who, the publicly available evidence strongly suggests, leaked like a sieve to The Nation’s David Corn.”

Libby kind of sounds like Liddy

So- why is Libby a scapegoat in this yawner of a drama? Stay with me-Deep Throat and Bob Woodward. In fact Mark Felt’s revenge of the FBI nerds of the 1970’s changed the way lies were measured. Approach is a main culprit in tainting the office of the President of the United states since Felt was overlooked for the job as head of the FBI when J. Edgar Hoover died. Coupled with an ambitious police beat journalist, Bob Woodward, they pulled off the biggest coup of the century, toppling down the Nixon Whitehouse, since the shared a deep hatred of Nixon.

The Secret Man

If pure journalism means digging for truth and getting the story right, together Woodward, Bernstein, and Felt opened up a new branch, that I call “The school of Foolish Messengers”, this school is alive and well. The main premise is to measure the gravity of lies and deceit against their own. In fact the protected source of Woodward and Bernstein, Mark Felt who’s more than casual misuse of his position as deputy director of the FBI gave him “heroes” status by many. Woodward writes in his book The Secret Man , that Felt went to great lengths to protect his secret. “He had to lie” writes Woodward. Whenever someone claims that someone had to lie-take three steps backwards for you may be hit by lightning.

Mentor Throat

As troubling, is prior to Woodward’s journalistic career he pursued Mark Felt for career advice by a chance meeting at The White House in 1969. From the time Woodward was discharged from the Navy to his decision on whether to become a lawyer or a journalist, Mark Felt was consulted as a “mentor” to Woodward.

And then there’s this:

“Exactly 26 hours and ten minutes after he had announced Hoover’s death”, Felt wrote, “President Nixon nominated L. Patrick Gray to be acting directorâÂ?¦”

Woodward writes, “Felt was crushed” by being overlooked but “put on a good face.”

This was the beginning of a decision not just to put “a good face on it” but to wear a mask in a parking garage. Felt’s assignment was to stop leaks. Yet he became the main source for gushers. By day, Felt was a dutiful plumber, by night, Deep Throat, a broken faucet. This is what happens with vengeful protective sources. The bigger the axe to grind is, the more the story grows. Then the question becomes “What President hasn’t ticked someone off?” And does it show integrity or something else when the offended one sings like a canary when it is wounded?

Motive Revealed

I don’t believe that Mark Felt ever knew that he was the source that would turn journalism on its ear. I believe that Mark Felt was used and manipulated by Woodward who in turn was manipulated by Felt to accomplish a vengeance on Nixon. In the same breath, I am not defending the actions of the Nixon administration. If they were above board, none of it would have been necessary. Beside Woodward, I don’t believe that anyone who was involved in the reporting of the dark side of Watergate could have imagined that the unprincipled methods to crack the story and to protect the source, would have had the affect it does on the way we cover investigative reports.

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