Don't blame Kerry. Blame E.J.!

A mostly political Weblog.
June 14 2005 1:03 AM

Don't Blame Kerry. Blame E.J.!

A self-deluding media failed the Democrats.

(Continued from Page 7)

plays havoc with history. The premise of the fabrication and composite and silent coup theories is that accepted history is counterfeit, that the truth about the past can be ferreted out not by studying official records, but by seeking out what remains hidden—which, in conspiracist thinking, is always hidden deliberately.

I think he does! ... P.S: I accept that Mark Felt is obviously Deep Throat. But here's a jaw-slackening story that at least causes some discomfort. [Via  Lucianne] ... P.P.S.:  Epstein's "composite" theory appears to be based on a common misperception about Washington. Specifically, Epstein argues that Felt couldn't have known about one of the Woodward/Bernstein scoops attributed to him--that there were suspicious "gaps" in the Nixon tapes:

But the person who provided that information that night could not have been Felt according to records examined by Nixon's biographer Jonathan Aitken. In November 1973, only six people knew about the gaps in the tape-- Richard Nixon; Rose Mary Woods (Nixon's personal secretary); Alexander Haig (The White House chief of staff); Haig's deputy, Major General John C Bennett and two trusted Nixon White House aides, Fred Buzhardt and Steve Bull. Not only was Felt not privy to that White House secret, but he was no longer even in the FBI, having left that October.

This is an extremely weak argument. Of course Felt could have known about the gaps even though he wasn't in the White House. As Mark Blumenthal** argues in a highly persuasive post, you don't work for decades in Washington, as Felt did, without building up a large informal network of friends, backscratching sources, ex-colleagues, ex-lovers, etc.. People in one department often learn what's going on in another department across town. On the one issue with which I have been most familiar--the welfare debates of the mid-90s--it eventually became clear to me that, thanks to a powerful, informal, backdoor liberal network centered in the non-profits, the opponents of welfare reform basically all knew what was going on in each other's shops, even the allegedly secret goings on. It was absurd, once you were exposed to this, to reason that people in Box A on the organization chart couldn't know what was going on in Box B. Yet that Organization Chart Fallacy wasn't and isn't confined to outsiders like Epstein; some surprisingly senior Washington veterans and journalists indulge in it too.

What about Aitken's argument that only six people knew about the gaps in the tape? Well, Blumenthal argues forcefully that one of the six--Woods--had close ties to the Hoover FBI and could well have been part of Felt's informal network. Even if Blumenthal's wrong in this speculation, it's ridiculous to assert with certainty that none of the six who were supposed to know let the hottest gossip in town slip to a wife, best friend, or coworker. ...

**--Blumenthal is also the Mystery Pollster. On Wednesday, the polling establishment (the National Council on Public Polls) gave him a  completely deserved award for his 2004 coverage, although they appear to have felt the need to cook up a special "blog" category to do it. 1:09 P.M. link

Victor Navasky, former editor and now publisher of The Nation, has begun to play a "key role" at Columbia Journalism Review, according to E&P. Will the often-embarrassing  media-crit magazine (and blog) now become an ideological clone of The Nation? That might require moving CJR slightly to the right.  ... 12:22 P.M. link

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

A note to Fred Fielding, David Gergen, Al Haig, Pat Buchanan and all the other Nixon-era public officials who now stand unglamorously revealed to the world as Not Deep Throat:  Just because you weren't "Deep Throat" doesn't mean you weren't huge leakers to Woodward and Bernstein! We know that. And we appreciate it. ... Assignment Desk: Find the best suggestive non-denial denial from one of these former DT Suspects that, while not claiming DT's mantle, nevertheless effectively maintained an attractive air of mystery.  Starter: Here's Buchanan intriguingly  unavailable to deny it! ... Buchanan also told CNBC's Chris Matthews, when asked if he was DT, "I'm not the type of guy that's going to spend a lot of time in a garage with Bob Woodward." Brilliant! ... 12:32 P.M. link

I Knew It All Along! I Really Did! Award for the lamest catch-up column goes to WaPo's Richard Cohen, who somehow tries to claim he knew Mark Felt was Deep Throat even though he wrote a magazine article pointing a finger at** someone else:

A long time ago I wrote a magazine piece about how Bob Woodward's famous source, "Deep Throat," could have been a mere Secret Service technician -- any one of several people detailed to keep Richard Nixon's secret White House taping system operating. I figured that anyone with access to the system could quickly learn all that mattered about the Watergate burglary: The president's men had done it and the president was covering it up. I showed the piece to Woodward, who would not say whether it was right or wrong, just that it made sense. We both knew, though, that "Deep Throat" was Mark Felt.

Woodward's knowledge was firsthand, up close and certain. Mine was different. [Emph. added]

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