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Nixon the Real Hero of Watergate?

Reported by Judy - June 2, 2005

Deep down, I guess I knew Richard Nixon is the kind of president Rupert Murdoch might like, so I should not have been surprised at the way Fox News is going after former FBI No. 2 W. Mark Felt for being the Watergate scandal's "Deep Throat."

John Gibson's "The Big Story" led the attack on Wednesday (June 1) with an interview with convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy. Liddy called Felt a "pitiful" old man whose family is out to capitalize financially on his status as Deep Throat, but who really should be ashamed of what he did.

"If he had evidence that a crime had been committed, he was duty-bound to take it to the grand jury," said Liddy. "That's what he should have done, rather than leak it selectively to a single news source. What he did was wrong and he knew it was wrong. That's why he did not want to go public."

The inept Gibson tried to lead Liddy into calling Felt a hypocrite since Felt went after the Watergate burglars for wiretapping and later was convicted himself of permitting FBI agents to wiretap the phones of "radical" anti-war protesters. Liddy, however, didn't bite on Gibson's bait, so that went nowhere.

Finally, Gibson asked if Woodward should have been investigating Felt. Liddy pointed out that Woodward was not "a sworn law enforcement official so he had no moral duty or obligation to just investigate any crime. He can pick and choose because he's not a sworn law enforcement officer." Another dead-end for Gibson.

Gibson then asked Liddy the "hero" question, and Liddy said most of the listeners to his radio show don't consider Felt a hero. He added, "The real irony here is that Mark Felt as the No. 2 man at the FBI would have known what Watergate was really all about because the FBI was investigating it intensively and had found out a lot of information and either he didn't tell Woodward or Woodward chose not to publish it."

Back to you, John. You know, for a follow-up question. Like, what do you mean by "what Watergate was all about, Gordon?"

John, however, had no time for a follow-up. Instead, he had to go to a segment with former Reagan staffer Michael Deaver, author of Why I am a Reagan Conservative. His first question to Deaver, why did Reagan pardon Felt? Deaver's answer, "I really don't know. ... You'd have to ask Ed Meese."

What? The guest doesn't know the answer to your lead-off question? Did you check this guy out in advance, John? You leave Liddy's provocative statement hanging to go to Deaver, who can't answer your question? Could we have done a little "homework" in advance on this segment?

Big John's real story is apparent in a moment, when he begins to ask Deaver about Felt's motives. Deaver, of course, doesn't know what Felt's motives were, but that doesn't matter because John puts the information he wants to convey into his "question," noting that after Felt's boss, J. Edgar Hoover died, Nixon gave the job of FBI director to L. Patrick Gray and Felt was angry. No indication of who says Felt was angry, but you don't need any, because this was a "question."

All these shenanigans, so that at the end of the Big Story, Gibson can conclude with his " My Word."

Gibson's view on Felt, conveyed during the "opinion" portion of his show, is, "So Felt was angry he didn't get the job. Vengeance was a motive in leaking information about Nixon. Some say Felt wanted to protect the FBI from Nixon's attempts to corrupt it.

"Maybe Nixon was doing that. Maybe not. But it is reasonable to assume that W. Mark wanted to continue the Hoover legacy — the power and fear of a domestic KGB (search) and Nixon got in his way. We're all better off that Nixon ended the Hoover era by not promoting Hoover's second-in-command.

"And, by the way, W. Mark Felt's most famous words to Bob Woodward (search): 'Follow the money.' You do that right now and you discover why Felt is admitting he was Deep Throat. He wants money, said so himself. Think mega book deal. So whoever wants to arrange the ticker tape parade for W. Mark Felt, go ahead. I'll be staying home."

Most of the "news" segment of the show was a set-up for Gibson's "opinion" delivered at the end. It wasn't about answering the viewers' questions, so who cares that Liddy's provocative statement goes unexplored. Who cares that Deaver can't answer the "question" posed to him? Gibson structured the interviews to make his own point -- that Felt had been convicted for abusing his power in the FBI, so that he could connect Felt with Hoover, then simply assume that Felt was as bad as Hoover and voila, Nixon is the hero for saving the country from another Hoover in the form of W. Mark Felt.


P.S. Actually, on the air, Gibson's closing comment was that he would be staying home listening to his recording of the missing 18 minutes from one of Nixon's tapes. But that didn't make it into the transcript of My Word on the Fox website.

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