Watergate scandal

Trotter on journalism, such as it is

Chris Trotter has finally woken up to the abject failure of the media and to the chattering classes.

DAMN AND BLAST HILLARY CLINTON! Not just because she lost ? exposing in the process the appalling political judgement of the Democratic Party. And not just because her failure has saddled the world with President Trump for at least four years. Those sins, on their own, more than merit political damnation. But there is another sin for which I would like to see Clinton blasted. The sin of exposing the vacuity of contemporary journalism and the powerlessness of the mainstream media. Because, to be perfectly honest, Clinton?s failure is my failure too.

Strong words.

Then Trotter embarks on a typical left-wing hypothesis complete with jargon that no one even knows what it means.

The story has its beginnings in the Watergate Scandal. I was just 18 when Nixon was driven from the White House by what everybody said was the investigative journalism of, among others, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and The Washington Post. For one brief shining moment journalists were hailed as heroes and journalism was portrayed as a force so powerful that not even the office of the President of the United States could prevail against it.

Forty years on, however, it is clear that Nixon?s fall owed as much to the deliberate and secretive manipulation of the news media as it did to the efforts of the courageous journalists, Woodward and Bernstein. After all, the latter?s? key informant, the infamous ?Deep Throat?, turned out to be no less a buttress of the American ?Deep State? than Mark Felt, the Associate Director of the FBI.

In the movie, All the President?s Men, Deep Throat is portrayed as a reluctant but principled whistleblower from the dark heart of the Washington bureaucracy. A more probable explanation, however, is that Felt represented a Deep State faction determined to drive the mentally unstable Nixon out of the Oval Office. In 2016, it is equally probable that a highly-motivated Deep State faction, this time based in the FBI?s New York Field Office, used the news media to prevent Hillary Clinton from re-entering the White House as President.

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Leaking, Leakers and Leaks

What makes sources leak to me or to anyone else in the media?

A new book by veteran journalist?Max Holland?called?Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat?(University Press of Kansas) looks into the Watergate scandal from a different perspective.

Leak?overturns once and for all the romantic, popular interpretation of the Watergate saga of one inside source risking it all to save democracy. ?Nixon?s downfall was an entirely unanticipated result of Felt?s true and only aim,? Holland writes. Although Holland never disparages the enterprise of Woodward and Bernstein, acknowledging the impact their reports had on Judge John J. Sirica and the senators who formed an investigative committee, neither does he bow to them. ?Contrary to the widely held perception that the?Washington Post ?uncovered? Watergate, the newspaper essentially tracked the progress of the FBI?s investigation, with a time delay ranging from weeks to days, and published elements of the prosecutors? case well in advance of the trial.?

So Woodward and Bernstein were in fact fast followers of the investigation, but with a heads up from the leaker:

Leak, to be published Mar. 6, vindicates journalist Edward Jay Epstein, one of the earliest critics of Woodsteinmania. In a?Commentary?piece published in July 1974, about a month after the Woodstein book came out, Epstein eviscerates what he calls the ?sustaining myth of journalism.? Na?ve readers believe that intrepid reporters expose government scandals by doggedly working their confidential sources. Of course such scoops do occur, but the more conventional route to a prize-winning series is well-placed leaks from well-oiled government investigations, which Holland maintains was the case with Watergate.

I like the description “sustaining the myth of journalism”. But what of the leaker? What motivates them?

?Every source leaks for a reason, and it?s usually not about preserving the Constitution and the American way. As?Stephen Hess?writes, sources have many reasons to leak. They leak to boost their own egos. They leak to make a goodwill deposit with a reporter that they hope to withdraw in the future. They leak to advance their policy initiative. They leak to launch trial balloons and sometimes even to blow the whistle on wrongdoing. But until contesting evidence arrives, it?s usually a safe bet that a leak is what Hess calls an ?Animus Leak,? designed to inflict damage on another party.

Heh “Animus Leak”…yep I like that description.