Watergate's secret revealed
Let's get one thing straight. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did not bring down Richard Nixon. Nixon and his own hubris did that.
'Woodstein," as the two Washington Post reporters became known, have often unjustifiably been tagged as the duo that caused the fall of the house of Nixon. Not exactly.
The reporters did, however, follow the story when no one else in the mainstream media thought anything would come of it. And, hey, when Redford and Hoffman play you in the movie, that gives you some credibility, right?
The revelation last month that Deep Throat, the secret source who guided Woodward during his reporting of Watergate, was former FBI bigwig W. Mark Felt shocked many familiar with the scandal and left most everyone else scratching their collective heads and saying, "Who?"
(Was it just me, or did you, too, secretly hope it was Kissinger??!!)
Felt, who was essentially the number two man at the bureau when J. Edgar Hoover died in 1972, was passed over by Nixon for the director's chair in favor of a political hack, the late L. Patrick Gray. Seething in frustration, Felt guided Woodward as the reporter navigated the bizarre maze that was Watergate.
Nixon, who suspected Felt was the leaker, nevertheless testified at Felt's trial when he was investigated for FBI-related actions against the Weathermen, a group of radical domestic activists. Felt approved wiretapping and other such activities to monitor the group in the 1970s. Although he was convicted, Felt was later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan.
Some say Felt finally broke his silence, via an article in Vanity Fair of all places, to cash in on the whole thing before he dies. Others say Felt, who has been mentally ill for years, has no idea what he is doing and is being manipulated by his family.
Whatever the case, the best kept secret of Watergate was finally revealed and the reporter who carefully guarded it was scooped by a rival publication. Such is life.
Woodward has written an engaging little book called "Secret Man: The Story of Watergate's Deep Throat." Although the 249-page quick read doesn't reveal much about the scandal you didn't already know, it does highlight Woodward's cultivation of the ultimate secret source. It isn't Shakespeare, but then again, what is.
"But of course, there are always unanswered questions," Woodward writes. "There is never a final draft of history."
Maybe not. But now that Watergate's ultimate unanswered question has been revealed, the whole thing seems much dimmer and very much the faded page of history that it is.
Course, we still don't know what was on those 18 1/2 minutes of tape...