Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

I got home from my vacation with my family in time to hear All Things Considered. I listened with interest as Daniel Schorr began to talk about Watergate, Mark Felt and attempt to provide a perspective. By the end of this very frustrating segment, I wondered what value came from airing it and was I the only one thinking Mr. Schorr came off like a yekl?

'Deep Throat' Comes Forward

All Things Considered, May 31, 2005 · Michele Norris talks to NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr about news that former FBI official Mark Felt is the person known as "Deep Throat." Felt cooperated with an article in Vanity Fair magazine that names him as the famous Watergate source. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward confirms it.

Early into the segment, a recording is played of an earlier broadcast and we hear Mr. Schorr say,
"Myself I always thought the most plausible deep throat with access to the information and a motive for leaking it was one of three top officals in the FBI starting with Mark Felts."

This is followed by some congratulations to Schorr and some praise for being, what I guess we'd call, on top of the game. But we aren't informed whom his other two guesses were. He guessed that one of three people at the FBI was the source and one of his three guesses was Mr. Felt. I'm not all that sure that Mr. Schorr won the lottery on that one.

Mr Schorr offers two possible motives why Mr. Felt might have talked back in the seventies.
The first motive is that Mr. Felt was "passed over for the Director of the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover died. And he was angry about that." The second motive Mr. Shorr offers is that "Felts was afraid the FBI would get a black eye because they weren't able to penetrate the cover up."
It's speculation and, presumably, Mr. Schorr speculation is informed.

How informed Mr. Schorr was became a question to me throughout the rest of the segment.
For instance, I was shocked to hear Mr. Schorr offer that the secret had been kept for so long because "[t]he only other person who could have told for sure was Bob Woodward and Bob Woodward was making practically a career out of not telling."

I seem to remember Mr. Woodward having a partner named Carl Bernstein. Now I'm quite a bit older today, as is Mr. Schorr, but how does a seasoned reporter make such a huge mistake by claiming that "only" one "other person" knew "for sure" whom Deep Throat was? Does he only have eyes for goyim?

Mr. Schorr goes on to share his belief that "I think this republic has been saved by leaks at various times."

I would agree with that sentiment. I would not, however, agree with what followed:

For example would Clinton have been impeached had it not been for the original leak? Would Reagan have not been in trouble for the Iran-Contra affair were it not for a big leak? And then Nixon of course. The presidents and the Whites Houses and the governments have all kinds of ways of hiding things. And the only way you can penetrate that is if somebody as a kind of whistleblower is willing to link. And I think that's very valuable to the republic.

Now maybe I'm too much of a child of the Love Generation grown up and grown old; however, oral sex between two consenting adults never struck me as a threat to the republic. I never saw how Bill Clinton's impeachment by the house for consensual sex had anything to do with 'saving' the republic. I personally feel that it was one of our more embarrassing moments as a nation with Republican partisans acting as though this were a high crime and with a lapdog press willing to play along thereby granting a trivial story the weight of importance.

But Mr. Schorr equates Watergate and "Monicagate" as one and the same which suggests that Mr. Schorr is either tossing out some red meat to the Republicans just to appease them or else suggests serious questions about Mr. Schorr's judgement capabilities these days. I would have enjoyed hearing Michele Norris probe Mr. Schorr on exactly how our republic was saved with the saturation coverage on that trivial matter.

Now Iran-Contra was a much more serious matter and, indeed, in my opinion, a high crime. Mr. Schorr slides right over that in a manner similar to the press' action in real time which always struck me as an abdication of their watchdog role for whatever reason.

By the end of the interview, I felt nothing of value had come from it. What began with a clip of Mr. Schorr being portrayed as right about Mark Felt (with Mr. Schorr offering that he was "too much of a gentleman to say 'I told you so'") ended with him congratulating himself because, although many in the press who followed Watergate formed their own theories, "I just happened to be right."

Yes, Mr. Schorr, in 2000, was able to narrow the field down to three choices. It is correct that of those three choices, one was correct. But I'm not really sure that the historical perspective of Watergate can or should be summed up with the "one out of three guesses" odds of Daniel Schorr. The segment struck me as a vanity piece and, throughout, serious questions were raised about Mr. Schorr's analytical abilities.