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 don’t think so; and Colodny makes a very good case that a) DEAN (not Nixon) ordered the break-in (Liddy confirms, has never been disproven); and b) they weren’t looking in O’Brien’s area, but rather in an insignificant state guy’s area that specifically ONLY related to Maureen Dean and the madam. I think there is something big behind Colodny’s story, but enough time has passed that it will be tougher to prove.
The burglars were at the desk of this low level official, NOT at the more strategic desks, indicating they were there for Dean, not for larger political information.
Liddy has testified in two trials against the Deans, and they have never convicted him or won a suit. He is careful to avoid saying what he thinks, which is that Dean was behind it all. But he has said that Dean is a "serial perjurer," and has not been convicted of slander.
We’ll just agree to disagree then. What is impossible to believe is that this 34 year old (Dean) could have ordered the breakins himself, for his own purposes, and people would have done this on his say-so, without the involvement in the decision to go of a lot of other people. I have no doubt that these men did not inform the president in order to protect him.
Well, so far the evidence does not support you. Liddy says that is what happened, and in two trials of the Deans v. Liddy, juries have supported Liddy.
A couple of juries take in a civil suit 20 years after the Watergate involving G. Gordon Liddy and a book takes precedent all the other tons of evidence and common sense for you?
I think you have bought into a most unbelievable disinformation campaign to try to define and simplify Watergate for the people.
I seem to remember the book saying that they were just told to get the book. They were not told why or what was in it. I need to dig the book out and re-read it.
Yes, I think I still have that old book somewhere, and I think I’ll re-read what it says too. I just remember being skeptical and suspicious about it, and being disappointed it had absolutely no clue in it of the identity of “Deep Throat.”
I can remember being over at a friends house and the hearings kept being shown instead of important things like the Three
Stooges. So boys will be boys and we watched it for awhile after turning the RGB knob on the color TV all the way to green, upsetting the perfect color balance that his mother had finally achieved. She was not happy...
I thought that the book made it fairly clear that the only person that had the complete subset of the info that Deep Throat revealed was Al Haig.
I think with another 20 yrs of info and hindsight, DT was more than likely multiple people each telling what they knew or wanted reported.
Ping me after you've read "Silent Coup." Until then, sayonara.
"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.
"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."
That would be the Holland book.
“...would reveal some even darker secret, some larger plot.”
It has been a long time since I read the book, but the darker secret IIRC was that the military thought the State Department had too much say in the policies and wanted Nixon taken out, using Watergate as a pretense. (I think I might be way off on that, but I know the military and State did not agree on things.)
I recall years after reading the book seeing a magazine article (Time? newsweek?) where Admiral Moorer (was Woodward’s superior when he was in the Navy) was investigated for buying used (still operating) military equipment under the pretense for museums, and then selling them to foreign countries.
He replied something like “It is ludicrious and unbelieveable to think that I would buy.....”
That line in the magazine sounded REAL familiar from a few years earlier when I had read the book. I found the book, and there, where he is being accused of spying on the State Department and the president, he replies “It is ludicrous and unbelievable to think that I would spy.....”
I may be off on the “ludicrous” and “unbelievable”, but the exact wording was using in both the book (1980’s?) to the magazine article (2000’s?)
And I always wondered if Haig didn’t have it in somehow for Nixon. There was something in the book about his thirst for power, and then his “I’m in charge” comment when Reagan was shot made me think a bit.
The loss of Egypt, Libya, and the middle east countries to radical Islam may prove to be too much for the Iraqis.
The left requires human sacrifice to survive. I guess we’ll see.
And I always wondered if Haig didnt have it in somehow for Nixon. There was something in the book about his thirst for power, and then his Im in charge comment when Reagan was shot made me think a bit.
There was certainly something going on between Haig and Henry Kissinger. Silent Coup contains a description of a couple of incidents in which Haig intimidated Kissinger physically. He seemed to really get a kick out of threatening to beat Kissinger up.
The latest, which also makes the most sense to me, is that there actually was one individual informant, and the rat’s name was Mark Felt.
All I know is what I read.
I would would not even bother to reply to your dumb post if you hadn’t flat out accused me of being the bullshi**er you are.
I bought the book and read it 20 years ago, weighed the information in it, dismissed it as full of half-truths and disinformation mixed with good information and half-backed theories, written when the whole Watergate subject was still fresh in enough people’s minds to make a book that claimed to be the definitive explanation of Watergate a best-seller.
It was written 20 years after Watergate and in the 20 years since then, enough information has come out to discredit the book as anything to use as a reference work on Watergate.
Besides, if your bullsh** meter didn’t peg out when one of the greatest bullsh****rs of all time, radio talkshow host G.Gordon Liddy, endorsed the book, well, I worry about you.
And, thanks for making me go find the old book in that box in the attic. Think I’ll put it back on the shelf in my library in case a friend wants to borrow it.
2) That particular guy's desk---and NO OTHER---was tied to John Dean, and had no special relevance or importance as far as the campaign was concerned. Do you have any evidence or testimony to the contrary?
3) There is no evidence or testimony that they looked anywhere else in the DNC HQ that night. Do you have any facts to the contrary? No less a historian than Joan Hoff Wilson, a huge lib, who rejected the conclusions of "Silent Coup," nevertheless could not refute its basic assertions.
Now, it's your turn to present evidence and stop the infantile name calling.
Oh, and I think you meant "half-baked," not "half-backed."
Please excuse the typo. I did mean half-baked.
And it was you who started with the name-calling, by back-handedly accusing me of being a liar by posting without having read the book. Which I own. < (incomplete sentence)
If you choose to believe that Watergate was nothing but a bunch of fools risking everything on the say-so of a punk-kid lawyer who had just been made Lawyer-Nixon’s lawyer, then go ahead and believe.
“There was certainly something going on between Haig and Henry Kissinger. Silent Coup contains a description of a couple of incidents in which Haig intimidated Kissinger physically. He seemed to really get a kick out of threatening to beat Kissinger up.”
Colodny and Gettlin lifted that baloney straight out of Woodward and Bernstein’s “The Final Days”.
Your words are the impression the lefties want you to have of Haig.
That is just one of the reasons you should view “Silent Coup” as the leftist book of disinformation it actually is.
“Liddy seemed to believe that Dean was the cause of Watergate, that Watergate would never have happened without Dean, and that Dean cynically burned his employer and changed history for the worse in order to save his own skin.”
Messrs. Colodny and Gettlin agree. However, the “Coup” was the Democrats, Judge Sirca and the MF-Press transforming the ATTEMPED COVER UP OF THE BREAK-IN ....INTO.... A BREAK-IN PLANNED, DIRECTED AND AUTHORIZED BY NIXON HIMSELF thus an Impeachable Offense.
Most citizens today think the break-in was an idea planned and approved by Nixon.