Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Watergate and the press

Powerline brings to our attention this 1974 essay by Edward Jay Epstein, Did the Press Uncover Watergate?. Very much worth reading or re-reading since this issue will be covered unto the death by the MSM. Last two paragraphs:

Perhaps the most perplexing mystery in Bernstein and Woodward’s book is why they fail to understand the role of the institutions and investigators who were supplying them and other reporters with leaks. This blind spot, endemic to journalists, proceeds from an unwillingness to see the complexity of bureaucratic in-fighting and of politics within the government itself. If the government is considered monolithic, journalists can report its activities, in simply comprehended and coherent terms, as an adversary out of touch with popular sentiments. On the other hand, if governmental activity is viewed as the product of diverse and competing agencies, all with different bases of power and interests, journalism becomes a much more difficult affair.

In am event. the fact remains that it was not the press, which exposed Watergate; it was agencies of government itself. So long as journalists maintain their blind spot toward the inner conflicts and workings of the institution, of -government, they will no doubt continue to peak of Watergate in terms of the David and Goliath myth, with Bernstein and Woodward as David and the government as Goliath.

Discussions - 5 Comments

The press also avoided any mention of Dick Tuck, democrat trickster whose crimes far exceeded those of the burglars.

Mr. Wallis, of course, but there is a big difference between irritating—but funny—pranks and breaking into an office to steal documents.

Politics is a nasty game, yet there is a difference between a trick and a crime.

Time and Playboy had articles in 1972 about him. Also, there were reports about Dick Tuck in papers around the country. Washington Post carried articles as well.

Then you look at where Nixon went with the pranks: "Nixon emulated Tuck’s pranks by hiring dirty tricks specialists such as Donald Segretti. Segretti’s dirty tricks included forging letters to newspapers imputing sexual misconduct to Hubert H. Humphrey and forging letters on the stationery of Sen. Edmund S. Muskie that included language denigrating blacks."

Seems like Nixon liked it dirty, not Hubert H. Humphrey.

The question I have is how much of this would the public have known about every detail like they do now without the journalism of W&B? Sadly, we will never find out. What we do know now is that Watergate happened, and the wrongdoing went right to the top. Makes me wonder why nobody has tried that with Bush yet.

In a sense, it is still David v Goliath. There was a big story to report, and by digging deep, not unlike what many bloggers do (Powerline, DKos, etc) they can report the things that are underlying the bigger story. All the information--it’s a nice thing to have as a voter.

The purple guy wrote: "Seems like Nixon liked it dirty, not Hubert H. Humphrey."

Well, I have an old, well-worn copy of Life magazine’s "1972 Year in Pictures" issue, wherein Pierre Salinger, McGovern’s aide at the time, chronicles the McGovern presidential disaster while laying nearly all the blame on a whole host of under-handed dirty tricks played by Humphrey and his "Democratic Establishment" operatives.

Only the most blind partisan would try and suggest that Nixon was some sort of nasty abberation in the political game. Which is, of course, what the media’s fawning all over the Felt story is all about: Far from the color purple, or anything even remotely resembling it, they are simply blue-blooded hacks.

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