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Who's Your Hero?

Reported by Nancy - June 2, 2005 -

Last night (6/1) on Special Report, Brit Hume devoted a huge chunk of time to discussing Mark Felt (aka "Deep Throat"). There were some desultory attempts to blow the whole thing off & to suggest that the "real" Deep Throat was a composite, but the main thrust was that the "real hero" in the whole Watergate affair was ... wait for it ...

Bob Woodward! That's right. Surprise, surprise: three out of four journalists on this program thought Woodward was "more heroic" than Felt, while the fourth just equivocated & refused to choose between the two.

At 6:21pm (ET) James Rosen reported on reactions to "Deep Throat" being identified. He showed clips of Bush (Rosen said Bush "declined to say whether Felt was a hero" but that wasn't in the clip he showed), of Henry Kissinger, of Alexander Haig, of G Gordon Liddy (saying that Felt was "ethically bound to go to a grand jury, as though Liddy -- a convicted felon & ex-con -- were some kind of expert on ethics) & of Bernard Barker (Rosen said Barker -- one of those convicted of the Watergate break-in -- called Felt "human excrement" but that wasn't in the clip he showed). For balance, he also showed a clip of Ben Bradlee. Rosen said there's still a question of whether Felt "could ... have known everything Bob Woodward attributed to him" & cited the 18-minute gap, which happened after Felt left the FBI. Rosen added that Woodward & Felt knew each other before Watergate, calling them "old friends." After Rosen finished his report, Hume asked "What do we know about what other sources" Woodward might have used. Rosen said that all we have is Woodward's word & Felt's word, there are "no other contemporaneous sources." Hume commented that "A good reporter has more than one source" & asked if the details in the book & movie check out with what's known now. Rosen talked about the image of Deep Throat as portrated by Hal Holbrook in the movie, & Hume added that the signals Woodward claims he & Deep Throat used (a flowerpot, a page in the NYTimes) don't "check out."

Comment: "A good reporter has more than one source"? Hume might want to tell that to some of his cohorts (e.g., Jonathan Hunt). As for Rosen's report, I'd like to criticize it for being unbalanced (5 clips of GOPs, vs one clip of a newspaper editor), but let's face it: all the criminals involved in Watergate were GOPs, so it makes sense that he'd want to get reactions from them.

At 6:31pm Hume did his "Grapevine" segment, & devoted 3 of his 4 tidbits to Deep Throat-related items:
1 - reactions to Felt from the WaPo, from Dan Rather, & from the "left-leaning" Natl Initiative for Democracy ("remarkable praise for a J Edgar Hoover loyalist")
2 - how Iranian TV reported Felt (Zionist)
3 - reporters' use of anonymous sources has declined, according to the Center for Media & Public Affairs
4 - Amnesty International refuses to back down re Gitmo (AI interview with WaTimes)

At 6:41pm Hume showed a long clip of Bernard Barker (convicted Watergate burglar & CIA "asset") being diskointedly negative about Deep Throat, then asked if Felt is a hero. The "All-Stars" (Fred Barnes, Jeff Birnbaum & Nora Easton) weighed in. Barnes said he's "neither hero nor villain" but he kept the story alive for nearly a year, until formal investigations began. Birnbaum said he was "clearly a hero with human failings" & that "he did the right thing, ultimately" because he brought down a "corrupt" administration. Birnbaum also speculated a little about Felt's motivations, saying they're just starting to be looked at & calling Felt both "embittered" & "complex." Easton pointed out that "heroic figures are complex" & Hume interjected "with mixed motives." Easton agreed, then wryly commented "God forbid the Watergate industry should end." Barnes, ever the nay-sayer, said that if Felt "did the right thing, he did it the wrong way" suggesting that he could have gone to the DOJ, etc, etc, which he called "more honorable ways." Hume turned the discussion to reporters & leaks, & asked "Who's the real hero" -- Woodward (doing his job) or Felt (leaker). Easton tried to say neither could have done what they did without the other, but Hume pressed her to choose which one "was more heroic?" Easton still equivocated, saying you "can't compare the two." Birnbaum said he was "conflicted" because he works at the WaPo, "but I'll go with Bob Woodward" as more heroic. Hume opined that Felt was more important to Ben Bradlee than to Woodward because Bradlee had the whole reputation of the newspaper on the line. Hume also pointed out that Woodward & Bernstein were "young whippersnappers in those days." Barnes said Woodward "is a great reporter" & he didn't know if Felt would have gone to anyone else.

Comment: I thought it was remarkable, both on Special Report & elsewhere, how little credit was given to Carl Bernstein for that great job of reporting the pair did. Notice also that focussing all the discussion on Deep Throat, Woodward & Bernstein allows FNC to avoid discussing the "meat" of Watergate -- the attempt by a GOP administration to subvert & undermine the Constitution, & the resignation of a GOP President when faced with impeachment for criminal acts.

NOTE TO READERS: Please stay on topic (Special Report's coverage of Deep Throat). O/T comments will be deleted. Thanks.