Thursday, February 23, 2012

An important new book on Watergate



Jack Shafer's review:

What made Deep Throat leak?

Leak overturns once and for all the romantic, popular interpretation of the Watergate saga of one inside source risking it all to save democracy. “Nixon’s downfall was an entirely unanticipated result of Felt’s true and only aim,” Holland writes. Although Holland never disparages the enterprise of Woodward and Bernstein, acknowledging the impact their reports had on Judge John J. Sirica and the senators who formed an investigative committee, neither does he bow to them. “Contrary to the widely held perception that the Washington Post ‘uncovered’ Watergate, the newspaper essentially tracked the progress of the FBI’s investigation, with a time delay ranging from weeks to days, and published elements of the prosecutors’ case well in advance of the trial.”


Leak, to be published Mar. 6, vindicates journalist Edward Jay Epstein, one of the earliest critics of Woodsteinmania. In a Commentary piece published in July 1974, about a month after the Woodstein book came out, Epstein eviscerates what he calls the “sustaining myth of journalism.” Na├»ve readers believe that intrepid reporters expose government scandals by doggedly working their confidential sources. Of course such scoops do occur, but the more conventional route to a prize-winning series is well-placed leaks from well-oiled government investigations, which Holland maintains was the case with Watergate.


Related:
Howie the Weasel never disappoints

The high utility of myth and ignorance

On leaks, bias and truth

Woodstein gets played: Deep Throat, Gray, and Hunt's notebooks

Deep Throat: The irreconcilable differences between image and fact

Duke lacrosse: Custom, interest, and the pursuit of truth



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