The scoop

The scoop

: The Post reports on the story behind the story in Vanity Fair and how The Post got scooped: because Woodward kept his promise not to reveal Deep Throat’s identity until he was released from the pledge. The Vanity Fair story was edited by my colleague and friend, David Friend.

Vanity Fair, too, was late to the story but moments after it broke on the internet, the text came online.

: Also in the Post, Hank Steuver contemplates life after the secret:

What could be more of a letdown than finding out who Deep Throat is? Finding it out in Vanity Fair? And not really finding it out in Vanity Fair so much as feeling it crash-land across the Internet and the cable news networks, days before the magazine even hits the stands? Finding out that you don’t care anymore? Watching it not resonate among people younger than 30?…

Perhaps Deep Throat’s lovely (and daring) parting gift to Washington, especially to reporters, is simple: He actually exists. He is not fabrication or composite. He is one man, a fact not easily proved had he taken his secret to the grave. That in itself, in an era where trust has been shredded beyond recognition, is something to behold.

: And on anoymous sources, from Kit Seelye’s NY Times media report:

The emergence of the ultimate anonymous source comes at a time when newsrooms are struggling with questions about the use of such sources.

“We’ve had all this stuff about anonymous sources and God knows yes, we all know anonymous sources are overused,” said Lou Cannon, a former reporter for The Post. “But this really shows you, this story would have never come out if we had a rule against anonymous sources.”

  • Doesnít that open up a serious question? What can be the FBIís role as whistle blower be in matters that donít directly concern the FBI? Wow! There is a serious problem to be worked out there. I see conflicts all over the place.

  • >>The Vanity Fair story was edited by my colleague and friend, David Friend.
    You name-dropping idiot. You had nothing to do with the story – quit trying to inject your name in there.
    That’s just sad.
    PS nobody cares. gawd.

  • Temple, sweetheart, if I did not disclose my relationship with Friend I’d be accused of plugging his story just because we’re colleagues. It’s disclosure, that’s all. Should you be disclosing that you forgot your meds today? Jeesh.

  • Barry

    So which is it? Anonymous sources can be invaluable in helping to blow the lid off of huge conspiracies, or they are unreliable, inciting planned riots that may or may not have actually resulted in the deaths of anyone?

  • “He actually exists. He is not fabrication or composite. He is one man…”
    I do not believe Messrs. Bradlee, Woodward, and Bernstien said anything that would lead people to believe that Felt was the only source they placed under the rubric “Deep Throat.” Indeed, see Jonathon Aiken’s article in the Telegraph about this:
    The breadth of information covered by the source would tend to support a composite Deep Throat, not just one man. I would hope someone asks Wood/Stien point blank about this…should be an interesting answer.

  • Cal

    In 30 years, no one will care that it was Vanity Fair that broke the story. Why should we care about that? I got it across the wires anyway. Good for them.

  • David

    I think the difference between this anonymous source and some of the anonymous sources that have gotten the MSM in trouble lately is that Ben Bradlee insisted on knowing who the source was before putting the paper’s reputation on the line.
    There apparently hasn’t been the same level of oversight or responsibility on the part of editors these days.

  • Don

    Under 30?
    Try “under 40,” if not “under 45.”
    This happened longer ago than
    some people want to realize. ;^)
    Speaking for the 7-year-olds of 1974,
    all we wanted to know about Watergate
    was when it would go away and let our
    cartoons come back on TV.

  • “Ben Bradlee insisted on knowing who the source was before putting the paper’s reputation on the line”
    Sorry…but Ben Bradlee himself said he didn’t find out the identity of Deep Throat until after the paper got a Pulitzer for the coverage.
    According to “All the President’s Men” Bradlee got a general idea of the importance of the source in government – not even that he worked for the FBI.

  • Dave V.

    IIRC, Bradlee didn’t know the name, but he did insist that they find other sources to verify the information before they published.

  • Knowing there are actually people in positions of power and knowledge that care about their country is a very encouraging thing. That Woodward and Bernstein kept their word is another encouraging thing. Courageous editors are another encouraging thing. WaPo deserves to be really, really proud. Hopefully, the truth will keep on setting us free.

  • I do not take any medications. Zilch. Nada. Can you say the same?
    That is not a COI or a kind of disclosure anyone cares about. Really. It’s name-dropping.
    Though there are some good ideas sprinkled around here – and I’ve linked to them before – I just see an incredible streak of (misplaced?) arrogance throughout this blog – and I dislike that from whatever source it comes from.
    Sweetheart? Yikes. I guess some would say that’s cute. Unless you though I was a woman – and then it’s just paternalistic sexism.
    Snookums :-)

  • Athough I regret “idiot” now that I look back. My apoligies for that.

  • It’s telling that NYT would draw an equivalence between using and protecting an anonymous source that provides information leading to independent evidence of a Presidential cover-up of felony activity and the use of an anonymous source that provides rumor of something somone else was going to say that might or might not have ever really happened, and that was going to be openly published in a few days anyway.
    The issue is not anonymous sources, but the relative value of the information the source may provide. If the Newsweek source had provided equally important, accurate and unavailable information as Deep Throat not a single person would have complained. It is sad that a “professional” reporter like Lou Gannon fails to see that it is not the tool (anonymous sources) but the use that was wrong. It reminds me of those mindless “zero tolerence” policies at schools that protect the administration by removing all responsibility for making a decission yet punnishes equally the Boy Scout who forgets about a pocket knife in his back pack and the thug who hides a razor in his boot.

  • I went into journalism and became a newspaper in part because I was just close enough to Watergate to have thought it was cool that two reporters brought down the White House.
    But from my 40-something vantage point in the heartland, all this excitement over Deep Throat has a patina of geezer-dom. Like, here at my university full of high achieving undergrads, who cares? There are lots more important and pressing problems today. But there are all the editors, having this flashback to the good old days.
    It just feels incongruous with life today. Like, did Felt take money for his story? How much?

  • Robert F. Kennedy once famously said, “Richard Nixon represents the dark side of the American spirit.” Well, RFK never met George W. Bush.
    The reactions of Nixon contemporaries and today’s Bush sycophants to yesterday’s Deep Throat revelations are predictably – and eerily – similar. But the Bush team’s own overt war against anonymous single sources and brutal retribution against whistle-blowers is no joke. The tragedy for American democracy is very real indeed…
    For the full story, see:
    “Gagging on Deep Throat: The Nixon Legacy in the Bush White House”

  • Many in the news business are pointing to this story to confirm the value of anonymous sources conveniently forgetting that Ben Bradlee demanded independent confirmation from two more sources before he would proceed.
    Look what has happened to journalistic standards since then.

  • David

    Dave V. and Rick Moran:
    “Sorry…but Ben Bradlee himself said he didn’t find out the identity of Deep Throat until after the paper got a Pulitzer for the coverage.”
    Oops, I stand corrected. Thanks.

  • Amy

    I heard the Deep Throat story on the radio, but wanted to update myself on more detail, so I typed Buzzmachine into my browser, certain that I’d find an informative summary with links to the latest important pieces.
    And that’s exactly what I got. I didn’t have to mess around Googling Vanity Fair etc, I got a reliable starting point for my reading.
    Thank you Jeff.
    P.S. Captain’s Quarters blog has an interesting post with link to a News Virginian story by a journo who says he had the Deep Throat story three years ago, but turned it down on ethical grounds, as Felt was too infirm to speak clearly for himself.