Thursday, February 23, 2012

An important new book on Watergate



Jack Shafer's review:

What made Deep Throat leak?

Leak overturns once and for all the romantic, popular interpretation of the Watergate saga of one inside source risking it all to save democracy. “Nixon’s downfall was an entirely unanticipated result of Felt’s true and only aim,” Holland writes. Although Holland never disparages the enterprise of Woodward and Bernstein, acknowledging the impact their reports had on Judge John J. Sirica and the senators who formed an investigative committee, neither does he bow to them. “Contrary to the widely held perception that the Washington Post ‘uncovered’ Watergate, the newspaper essentially tracked the progress of the FBI’s investigation, with a time delay ranging from weeks to days, and published elements of the prosecutors’ case well in advance of the trial.”


Leak, to be published Mar. 6, vindicates journalist Edward Jay Epstein, one of the earliest critics of Woodsteinmania. In a Commentary piece published in July 1974, about a month after the Woodstein book came out, Epstein eviscerates what he calls the “sustaining myth of journalism.” Na├»ve readers believe that intrepid reporters expose government scandals by doggedly working their confidential sources. Of course such scoops do occur, but the more conventional route to a prize-winning series is well-placed leaks from well-oiled government investigations, which Holland maintains was the case with Watergate.


Related:
Howie the Weasel never disappoints

The high utility of myth and ignorance

On leaks, bias and truth

Woodstein gets played: Deep Throat, Gray, and Hunt's notebooks

Deep Throat: The irreconcilable differences between image and fact

Duke lacrosse: Custom, interest, and the pursuit of truth



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pre-Venona minds at work

Historians and the press still refuse to face the facts of the Red Decade and the "Red Scare".
J. Robert Oppenheimer: A Spy? No. But a Communist Once? Yes.


That only one of these eight biographies of Oppenheimer accurately assessed his relationship to the CPUSA reinforces the themes we discussed in our 2003 book In Denial: Historians, Communism and Espionage. By and large, American scholars and historians cannot bring themselves to write dispassionately about the elephant in the room, domestic communism, anticommunism, and Soviet espionage

In Denial: Round 11

[I. F.] Stone, however, is an icon in certain journalistic precincts, and to his devotees those six pages are the only ones in Spies that matter. Their responses match in distortion, whitewashing, spinning, and ad hominem viciousness any that we have received over the years and give us a better understanding of what Weinstein and Radosh had to put up with. The history of communism and Soviet espionage have never been fields for those seeking the scholarly quiet life, but the displays of rage (real and faux) in regard to Stone have been impressive.

Related:
A herd of independent minds

Jennifer Rubin earns her paycheck

The WaPo's resident resercon acts, well, like a resercon.
James Taranto, David Limbaugh Draw Jennifer Rubin's Wrath
Related:
Why Letterman matters (Part I)

David Frum had no comment

Question for the anti-Delay Republicans

Playing nice is not a strategy (at least not a winning strategy)