Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Why Benghazi is not Watergate

Last June, the Washington Post convened a series of panels to discuss Watergate on the fortieth anniversary of the break-in. Fred Thompson was on one of the panels and said that four factors caused Watergate to end in Nixon’s resignation. (Watch here)

1. An aggressive press eager to pursue the story.

2. Deep Throat--A highly placed source whose leaks could keep the story alive and moving forward.

3. John Dean’s public testimony.

4. The Watergate tapes--Incontrovertible evidence of Nixon’s wrong-doing.
It is no surprise that Benghazi lacks heft as a scandal because the MSM has been anything but aggressive. Most of it has been bored by the story and too lazy to dig into the details. A significant minority has advanced the White House’s spin and abetted the cover-up.

They are happy to play the role of scandal condom for the Obama administration.

If we look at Thompson’s other points, it is clear that Benghazi has ripened faster than the Watergate scandal. We have three public whistle-blowers who are not tainted as Dean was by participating in the cover-up. Gregory Hicks, Mark Thompson, and Eric Nordstrom are willing to tell their stories in front of the Congress and the whole world; they eschewed anonymous leaks and late night meetings in parking garages.

We also have the same bread crumbs the Washington Post followed when they were the only paper on the Watergate trail:

If they’re clean why don’t they show it? Why are there so many lies? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve got them.
The last four days make this David Halberstam quote especially pertinent:

Time was on the side of Woodward and Bernstein. A story like Vietnam or Watergate has a balance of forces of its own. At first the charges are deniable, the existing structure holds, powerful men with powerful positions can keep their troops in line. All the weight is on one side, and reporters like Woodward and Bernstein are a tiny minority, seeming puny by comparison. But there is the momentum, The denials slowly weaken, events undermine the denials so there have to be more denials, and each denial is a little weaker than the previous one. … Slowly the people who are issuing denials lose credibility, and the reporters begin to gain credibility.

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