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nixon-resignsIn his new biography Being Nixon: A Man Divided, Evan Thomas concedes a point. Richard Nixon, he writes, “was not paranoid; the press and the ‘Georgetown set’ really were out to get him.”

Carl Bernstein’s review found Thomas’ book deficient in its failure to chronicle the “endemic criminality” of the Nixon presidency.

Yet, recent revelations suggest that “endemic criminality” is a phrase that might well be applied to the newsroom of The Washington Post when Bob Woodward and Bernstein worked there.

In All the President’s Men, Woodward and Bernstein admit that, in collusion with Post editors and with the approval of Post lawyers, they approached half a dozen Watergate grand jurors.

Admitting this was a “seedy venture,” they assured us no grand juror had violated his or her oath, and they got nothing.

Yet, from recent books by Jeff Himmelman about Ben Bradlee, Max Holland about Mark Felt (a.k.a. “Deep Throat”), and Geoff Shepard’s The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy, and the Plot That Brought Nixon Down, out today, the truth is otherwise.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Woodward and Bernstein deceived us about not breaching the grand jury.

They had. The source identified in their book as “Z,” a “woman…in a position to have considerable knowledge of the secret activities of the White House and CRP [Committee to Re-Elect the President]” was a grand juror.

Notes of Bernstein’s conversation with this woman were found by Himmelman in Bradlee’s files. Post editor Barry Sussman also told Alan Pakula, who made the movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, that Carl had breached the grand jury.

What does this tell us?

Woodward and Bernstein lied for four decades in denying their success in breaching the grand jury. And Bradlee knew they had been lying.

When Post lawyer E. B. Williams had his ex-parte contact with old friend Judge John Sirica, to put the fix in and get the judge not to expose or punish Woodward and Bernstein, Williams almost surely knew the reporters were lying.

Judge Sirica

Judge Sirica

In his memoir, Judge Sirica reveals what he would have done had Bernstein and Woodward gotten a grand juror to violate his oath:

“Had they actually obtained information from that grand juror, they would have gone to jail.”

Thus, Woodward and Bernstein, with the collusion of Post editors and lawyers, got a grand juror to violate her oath and spill secrets. Then Bradlee got E.B. Williams, godfather to Sirica’s daughter, to put the fix in with that compliant judge, and all of them covered up the conspiracy.

While pursuing Nixon, the “Georgetown set” was hiding the same sort of mendacities and obstruction of justice that got Nixon’s men prison time.

Nor does it stop there.

As we discovered, a decade ago, “Deep Throat,” whose moniker came from a dirty movie, was FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt.

Mark Felt

Mark Felt

In giving Woodward information from witness testimony to the grand jury, Felt was violating his oath and engaged in criminal misconduct, which, exposed, would have gotten him fired in disgrace and put in prison, and Woodward implicated as the beneficiary of his crimes.

Woodward and Bernstein benefited mightily from the fruits of Felt’s criminality, getting a Pulitzer for the Post, and having their careers made by collusion with this corrupt civil servant and serial lawbreaker.

The subtitle of the new paperback of All the President’s Men is, “The Greatest Reporting Story of All Time.”

Excuse me, but how much reporting does it take to scribble down notes from Mark Felt telling you who said what to the grand jury that day?

This is stenography, not reporting.

51ncyLMUT1LWhat was Felt’s motivation in leaking grand jury secrets to Woodward? Max Holland’s book Leak tells the story.

Felt sought to cast acting FBI Director Pat Gray, an honorable man, as incompetent and unable to keep secrets. This would result in Gray being passed over for permanent director. With the FBI top job open, President Nixon would likely turn to—Deputy Director Mark Felt.

Lovely fellow, that Felt.

Of all the Watergate offenses of the Nixon White House, the “Huston Plan” is often called the most terrifying. And what was the plan worked up by my old friend Tom Charles Huston in 1970?

After Black Panthers began murdering cops and a Greenwich Village bomb factory—where an anti-personnel bomb was being prepared to massacre noncommissioned officers and their dates at a dance at Fort Dix—blew up, Huston, with CIA, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency backing, urged the reinstatement of FBI practices used from FDR to LBJ.

These included warrantless wiretaps and surreptitious entries, “black-bag jobs,” to stem the epidemic of terror bombings.

Nixon OK’d the plan, but rescinded his approval five days later after J. Edgar Hoover’s objection.

And who had been in charge of FBI black-bag jobs in the LBJ era?

Mark Felt. Maybe when Woodward met Deep Throat in that garage, Felt was just casing the place.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of Pat Buchanan (August 2015).

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6 replies to this post
  1. I love Pat Buchanan, his isolationist bent, and even much of his revisionism. Plus I hate trial-by-media for any old average, burgeoning Joe. But if Woodward and Bernstein used Machiavellian tactics to expose a President, their instinct was correct and Nixon was corrupted… and I wish we had such a press today.

    How sad to imagine, that in order to exercise the same unconstitutional, investigative powers over their political enemies as Nixon had sought, President Obama et al would only need to exercise their legislatively-granted powers, under the so-called Patriotic Act!

  2. Love neither lost nor deserved for The Washington ComPost. But President Nixon imposed brutal wage and price controls to curb his inflation in 1971, as the French Revolution had done but without the death penalty, and he severed the link between the dollar and gold, both to the acclaim of Keynesians. He was no conservative.

  3. “and I wish we had such a press today.”

    We do, except it’s the “Underground” or unofficial press that’s doing the important work today, such as exposing planned parenthood. This is what the “Official” press should be doing, but isn’t. In that sense, Buchanan is half-right. The press is corrupt, but not in the ordinary sense of favoring money over truth but rather in the sense of preferring ideology over truth. If we had an honest press, then the abortion industry would be getting the same kind of treatment today that the Nixon Admin got 40 years ago.

    • Well the ideology you speak of, extreme equality of the sexes, pervades not only media but also corporate America. By coinciding with business interests for the largest and most interchangeable labor pools in the all-service economy, not to mention the increased consumption made possible, it resulted in the two-earner household as its de facto requirement. Of course in our simpleton economics, where only activity measurable in taxable transactions is considered real, there was nothing GNP-contributing about the woman’s domestic labor, and unfortunately the attitude of both conservatives and liberals, was that full-time motherhood constituted a subservient position.

  4. So the President, a Chief Judge, an FBI Deputy Director, a grand juror, and the press were all together corrupt. Thank goodness things have changed! Wait….

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