Thursday, July 21, 2005

Comments on Plame and Rove; and more Deep Throat hype

Barry Sussman, who was Bob Woodward's and Carl Bernstein's every day editor on the Watergate story slams them at this post at for allegedly misrepresenting the role of Mark Felt in the Post's Watergate reporting. I have been writing much in recent weeks on the same subject, including this post here at my blog, and in a long story at the Village Voice.

Sussman writes: "Deep Throat was nice to have around, but that's about it. His role as a key Watergate source for the Post is a myth created by a movie and sustained here for almost 30 years."

The Washington Post finally takes a shot at trying to break some news regarding Valerie Plame, but falls woefully short. This was the the assessment of the Post "scoop" by Tom Grieve, who writes Salon's exceptional War Room feature:

Sound familiar? That's because the Wall Street Journal ran a similar report earlier this week. The Post fills in a few more details but there's little that is actually news. The Post's piece moves the story forward so incrementally that the notion is almost imperceptible.
So why the A1 treatment? We're guessing that the editors at the Post have had it right to here with the manipulation from the White House, and the front-page play for a not exactly earth-shattering report is a little bit of payback.

My own comments: Len Downie, an editor who is famous for saying he does not vote-- lest anyone question his journalistic objectivity-- would never engage in such conduct! What is actually going on, say sources in the Post's newsroom, is that the Post took to fronting old news-- with an increment so inconsequential that their story hardly constituted "news" at all-- has been largely the result of their having their clock cleaned on this story in recent days by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Bloomberg, and dare I say-- my own stories in the American Prospect.

Downie, and Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward-- the one and same Bob Woodward who took on the White House during Watergate-- have been telling anyone willing to listen to their complaint (a complaint made by a powerful man is always heard more reverently than one made by the rest of us!) that the Plame affair has been much ado about nothing, that the Post has bravely not given into competitive pressures by joining the rest of the journalistic pack, and that if there is real news sometime, they will be the first to publish and crack the case!

Now that that assessment has turned out to have been not particularly accurate, Downie, in attempting to correct his own mistake, has stepped down on the accelerator too hard. The result is that the White House tonight has been using this example tonight of overkill to discredit the reporting of the rest of us covering the Plame affair and breaking new ground on the story.

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