Monday, April 30, 2012

Neatening Things Up A Little

Ben and Bob at the Nixon, 2011
It turns out that the battle of Yorba Linda, joined by Bob Haldeman's loyalists against Tim Naftali and the Nixon library during 2009-11, wasn't the end of the war of Watergate. This time the reporters are absorbing fire.

The "Wilson Quarterly" editor's blog contains a survey of reactions to Max Holland's widely praised Leak, which reconsiders the motives of the Washington Post's most famous source, Mark Felt.

And now "New York" magazine has rocked greater Nixonwoodsteinland with a package of articles and sidebars by a former Bob Woodward researcher, Jeff Himmelman. His assertions: That Woodward and his reporting partner, Carl Bernstein, tried to cover up their use of information from a Watergate grand juror and that their editor, Ben Bradlee, has confessed to misgivings about relatively minor aspects of the account of their reporting contained in their first book, All the President's Men.

Woodstein issued a carefully worded response to the grand jury story (not quite a non-denial denial) and are obviously worried about the appearance of any daylight between them and their flamboyant editor. Himmelman, who at first thought he'd be writing a book with Bradlee instead of a biography featuring an expose about his reporters, provides this bit of dialog between himself and Bradlee (who seemed to to be getting along fine with Woodward when I saw them a year ago at the Nixon library):
“It’s inconceivable to me,” Ben said, “that in [Woodward's] preparation for all of this, to strengthen his case, he didn’t neaten things up a little—we all do that! … He thinks it is a critical and fatal attack on his integrity, and I don’t think it is.” Then, a moment later: “There’s nothing in it that attacks the verity of his research.”


“It’s just a little … ”

“A few of the bells and whistles,” I said. “Were all the bells and whistles those exact bells and whistles?”

“Where he had 90 percent, he was going for 100 percent,” Ben said. “And it’s that last lunge that drubs you.”
Or, as Nixon used to say, it's the coverup that gets you.

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