masthead-highres

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Regarding Deep Throat

One of Richard Nixon's biographers doesn't believe the "Deep Throat" mystery is over, but Ben Bradlee, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are confirming it.

Bradlee, Bernstein's and Woodward's top editor, said Tuesday that he didn't learn Deep Throat's name until after Nixon resigned. In 1972, neither Bernstein nor Woodward had celebrated their 30th birthdays. At the time, neither was particularly experienced. Given the importance of the story, shouldn't their editor have checked their sources?

Writing in her autobiography, the late Post publisher Katherine Graham wrote (page 471, March 1998 paperback edition) of the Post's Watergate coverage:
From the outset, the editors had resolved to handle the story with more than the usual scrupulous attention to fairness and detail.
Yet, even by this standard, young reporters were not required to reveal the name of a key source to an editor? (Graham writes in her 1997 autobiography that she still did not know Deep Throat's identity.)

In what to me is another curious passage, Graham writes (page 483) that on January 15, 1973 she asked Woodward to tell her Deep Throat's identity:
It was also at this lunch that Woodward told me he had told no one the identity of Deep Throat. "Tell me," I said quickly, and then, as he froze, I laughed, touched his arm, and said that I was only kidding -- I didn't want to carry that burden around.
In her situation, wasn't "that burden" her responsibility? What if 29-year-old Woodward had been an early Stephen Glass? And while Graham then relates that Woodward did tell her he would give her Deep Throat's name if she pressed, he also, she said, "was praying I wouldn't press him." Why?

It strikes me as curious that the Post's top leadership believed they should trust young reporters while the young reporters were not required to trust their top editor and publisher.

Is the Post run this way today?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:27 PM

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