Skip to comments.The unraveling myth of Watergate
Posted on 05/25/2012 4:01:28 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
It was, they said, the crime of the century.
An attempted coup d'etat by Richard Nixon, stopped by two intrepid young reporters from The Washington Post and their dashing and heroic editor.
The 1976 movie, "All the President's Men," retold the story with Robert Redford as Bob Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Jason Robards in his Oscar-winning role as Ben Bradlee. What did Bradlee really think of Watergate?
In a taped interview in 1990, revealed now in "Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee," Bradlee himself dynamites the myth:
"Watergate ... (has) achieved a place in history ... that it really doesn't deserve. ... The crime itself was really not a great deal. Had it not been for the Nixon resignation, it really would have been a blip in history."
"The Iran-Contra hearing was a much more significant violation of the democratic ethic than anything in Watergate," said Bradlee.
Yet when the Iran-Contra scandal hit the Reagan White House, Bradlee chortled, "We haven't had this much fun since Watergate."
All fun and games at the Post. Yet with Nixon's fall came the fall of South Vietnam, thousands executed, hundreds of thousands of boat people struggling in the South China Sea and a holocaust in Cambodia.
Still, what is most arresting about "Yours in Truth" is the panic that gripped Bob Woodward when Jeff Himmelman, the author and a protege of Woodward, revealed to him the contents of the Bradlee tapes.
Speaking of "All the President's Men," Bradlee had said, "I have a little problem with Deep Throat," Woodward's famous source, played in the movie by Hal Holbrooke, later revealed to be Mark Felt of the FBI.
Bradlee was deeply skeptical of the Woodward-Felt signals code and all those secret meetings. He told interviewer Barbara Feinman:
"Did that potted palm thing ever happen? ... And meeting in some garage. One meeting in the garage. Fifty meetings in the garage ... there's a residual fear in my soul that that isn't quite straight."
Bradlee spoke about that fear gnawing at him: "I just find the flower in the window difficult to believe and the garage scenes. ...
"If they could prove that Deep Throat never existed ... that would be a devastating blow to Woodward and to the Post. ... It would be devastating, devastating."
When Himmelman showed him the transcript, Woodward "was visibly shaken" and repeated Bradlee's line -- "there's a residual fear in my soul that that isn't quite straight" -- 15 times in 20 minutes.
Woodward tried to get Bradlee to retract. He told Himmelman not to include the statements in his book. He pleaded. He threatened. He failed.
That Woodward became so alarmed and agitated that Bradlee's bullhockey detector had gone off over the dramatized version of "All the President's Men" suggests a fear in more than just one soul here.
A second revelation of Himmelman's is more startling.
During Watergate, Woodward and Bernstein sought to breach the secrecy of the grand jury. The Post lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, had to go to see Judge John Sirica to prevent their being charged with jury tampering.
No breach had occurred, we were assured.
We were deceived.
According to Himmelman, not only did Bernstein try to breach the grand jury, he succeeded. One juror, a woman identified as "Z," had collaborated. Notes of Bernstein's interviews with Z were found in Bradlee's files.
Writes Himmelman: "Carl and Bob, with Ben's explicit permission, lured a grand juror over the line of illegality ..."
This means that either Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee lied to Williams about breaching the grand jury, or the legendary lawyer lied to Sirica, or Sirica was told the truth but let it go, as all were engaged in the same noble cause -- bringing down Nixon.
Who was that grand juror? Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee know, but none is talking and no one is asking. The cover-up continues.
Had one of Nixon's men, with his approval, breached the secrecy of the Watergate grand jury, and lied abut it, that aide would have gone to prison and that would have been an article of impeachment.
Conduct that sent Nixon men to the penitentiary got the Post's men a stern admonition. Welcome to Washington, circa 1972.
With the 40th anniversary of the break-in coming up this June, Himmelman's book, well-written and revelatory of the temper of that time, will receive a wider reading.
As will Max Holland's "Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat," out this spring and the definitive book on why J. Edgar Hoover's deputy betrayed his bureau and sought to destroy the honorable man who ran it, L. Patrick Gray.
With Bernstein's primary source spilling grand jury secrets, and Mark Felt leaking details of the FBI investigation to Woodward, both of the primary sources on which the Washington Post's Pulitzer depended were engaged in criminal misconduct.
At Kay Graham's Post, the end justified the means.
Redford is now backing a new documentary, "All the President's Men Revisited." The Sundance Kid has his work cut out for him.
I sat as a kid...watching the WaterGate hearings. At the end of the whole thing...my take was that a couple of guys broke into the Democratic office there at the WaterGate building, and that was mostly it. To pre-empt TV shows in the afternoon and carry this live across the nation...was silly and ridiculous. This was all a case that should have gone to some DC local courtroom. Obviously, I must have misunderstood the whole thing.
And I’ll add this...it has amazed ever since the hearings....that you can have Senators sitting around and acting like Judge and Jury.
Behold the real Watergate legacy, lost on the Left.
Unlike Watergate, a third-rate burglary where nobody died, over 300 people were murdered by guns our own DOJ sent to Mexican killer cartels.
And the MSM (American Pravda) helps to sweep it under the rug.
I've heard there's already a book out (don't recall the title) making the case that it's because Felt thought he should have been made Director of the FBI, and thus wanted to destroy Gray out of jealousy.
“Behold the real Watergate legacy, lost on the Left.”
But that is what the Left was clamoring for. Death and destruction are always a desired result for them.
And when speaking of Vietnam, the left will always mention Nixon in the same sentence. Not Kennedy nor Johnson. And Watergate? That was kids stuff when it came to Clinton.
It's not lost on the Left. It's consistent with the teaching of one of the Left's heros: "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."
ping for later...
There is a line in the movie Network, where a reporter is calling into the ‘newsreader’ giving information regarding the type of plane the US had used to intercept a middle eastern plane. His response, “Wow, I can say it here and they report it there as fact”.
The media at the time was orgasmic with the fact they could blow anything up to these proportions and literally stop a US President in his tracts all the while swaying the population into regarding every Republican as a “crook”. Hell, they’re still playing that old handbook. Guess it still works. But many are on to them!
As I recall, the failed break in was an attempt to get information on Democrats. That completely pales in comparison to the Republican FBI files that mysteriously showed up on Clintons desk. The left wing media has successfully altered the publics perception on what evil has actually gone on at the highest level as pointed out by someone with the Fast and Furious cover up. Watergate was NOTHING compared to what Democrats have gotten away with.
I still wonder why its so tough to prove the Liddy/Silent Coup thesis, which has all the earmarks of truth. Liddy has been sued twice, and won both times. Colodny was forced to retract SOME things about Dean, but its unclear due to the settlement with St. Martins exactly what he couldnt prove and what he could. So as of now it strongly appears they were looking for evidence on DEANs WIFE (fiancee) in the Watergate.
I covered Nixon et al for a national magazine in ‘72-’73, in Miami, and there were dark forces (liberalism, socialism) at work, trying to pull the Republic apart. They smelled the blood in the water and circled like sharks.
The Key Biscayne compound of Bebe Rebozo was an armed camp, when Nixon was frequently there - many times secretly - and even we in the Press Pool had severely limited access. No one was trusted, even those few of us who had worked for him and Lodge back in the losing ‘59-’60 GE.
Wiretaps, tailing by SS agents, stakeouts, mail intercepts, suspicion, mistrust, outright accusations, rumors, always looking over your shoulder etc were a daily part of the job. I was very afraid for the Nation’s future.
I left the Press in early ‘74 to start another career, and followed the resignation/pardon etc on TV, still very worried about our National stability and resolve to survive.
We did, but we were changed forever.72-
That was the immediate aftermath.
The long term implications are much more lasting - every two-bit ‘reporter’ dreaming of being Woodward.
We now have the modern day journalism doctrine (’making’ news to justify the ends) and Dan Rather’s courage.
Nixon’s real crime was the creation of a slew of alphabet agencies that forty years later are being used as extra-legal shock troops to bring the economy to its knees.
I got "Silent Coup" years ago. Every once in a while, I try to read it and figure out what the story actually is; I always give up in the end. Just not enough time to plow through the whole story.
Could you possibly summarize it here?
Watergate was the left’s revenge against Nixon for his taking out Helen Gahagan Douglas in the 1950 CA senate race along with his other anti-commie work.
I get so, so tired of hearing this bullsh!t over and over and over again. As they tell it, more specifically, Woodward, they felt such awe and solemnity blah, blah, blah at the prospect that their work might actually end up in, gasp!, the ousting of a President! Their integrity, respect for the process and the concept of true unbiased reporting, blah blah blah. I could puke!
A couple of self-serving, self-agrandizing, operatives who succeeded in making an Everest out of a turd pile.
In the grand scheme of things, the Watergate hype, is chickenfeed when compared with Clinton, and worse yet, Obama and Holder's treason. Yet, the media, as with the myth of the Kennedy Camelot, persist in idolizing something with no apparent substance because the sabotage worked.
I thought the count was over 2000?
What is amazing to me is that a 40-year-old burglary gets more MSM attention than a current mass-murder plot hatched by our own DOJ.