Monday, June 27, 2005

Caution: Reporter at work

My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is the last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.

Joan Didion, Slouching towards Bethlehem

Knowing that Sloan was always less that anxious to see them, they did not telephone ahead. As usual, he was too polite to close the door in their faces. He looked pale and defeated. he had lost weight. He uninvited them into the front hallway. The job-hunting was going badly, he said-- the taint of Watergate. Equally awful, there was no end in sight to the trials and civil depositions that were making him a professional witness at about $20 a day. They did not know how to respond. Visiting Sloan always made them feel like vultures.

Woodward and Bernstein, All the President's Men

I liked Bernstein; he was scruffy but impressed me as sincere. Woodward was stuffy. He had tried to interview my friend John Martin of the Internal Security Division about me, and Martin had declined comment.

'Nobody turns down Bob Woodward' huffed the newly baptized member of the Beautiful People.

G. Gordon Liddy, Will

Hersh came into the story in November 1972. He had learned from Bob Loomis, his editor at Random House, that there was a book going around town in which Frank Sturgis, one of the Cubans, told all, in conjunction with a free-lancer with strong Cuban connections named Andrew St. George. Loomis had seen the outline and it sounded like strong stuff, as if the Cubans were ready to tell their side of the story. St. George George, who had one been with Castro in the hills, and who had worked for both Life and Look, had fallen on thinner days as a journalist, and Hersh made a connection with him. Later St. George felt badly used by Hersh, but meanwhile he cooperated, and made a fatal mistake for any reporter: he allowed Hersh to meet Sturgis,, his prime source. Sturgis was on the make, St. George was a connection for him, but Hersh with the might and majesty of the Times was clearly a better one. Traditionally, reporters do not let their superiors or any of their colleagues meet their best sources for precisely this reason, a source may decide to trade up. Sturgis, having met Hersh, bypassed St. George.

David Halberstam, The Powers that Be

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