Two is that “Deep Throat” conferred privately with both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Post’s lead reporters on Watergate.
All three are untrue.
The Providence Journal item described “follow the money” as “the famous admonition from the source ‘Deep Throat’ to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon. It was immortalized in the reporters’ book, and the subsequent movie, ‘All the President’s Men.’”
No, no, and most definitely no.
The Post’s “Deep Throat” source — who was revealed in 2005 to have been W. Mark Felt, formerly a senior FBI official — never recommended that the Post “follow the money” as a way to get a handle on Watergate.
“Deep Throat,” moreover, conferred only with Woodward, sometimes late at night in a parking garage in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington. Felt/”Deep Throat” never met Bernstein until weeks before Felt’s death in 2008.
“Follow the money” was spoken not by Felt but by the actor who played “Deep Throat” in the movie — Hal Holbrook.
And he delivered his “follow the money” lines with such quiet conviction that for all the world they seemed to suggest a way through the labyrinth that was the Watergate scandal.
But even if guidance such as “follow the money” had been offered to Woodward (and/or Bernstein), it would have taken them only so far in investigating Watergate. The scandal was, after all, much broader than the misuse of campaign monies.
In the end, Nixon was toppled by his felonious conduct in attempting to cover up the signal crime of Watergate, the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in June 1972.
The simplified, mediacentric, follow-the-money interpretation of Watergate tends to minimize the more decisive forces that unraveled the scandal and forced Nixon from office.
As I note in my latest book, Getting It Wrong, rolling up a scandal of Watergate’s dimensions required “the collective if not always the coordinated forces of special prosecutors, federal judges, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the Justice Department and the FBI.
“Even then,” I write, “Nixon likely would have served out his term if not for the audiotape recordings he secretly made of most conversations in the Oval Office of the White House. Only when compelled by the Supreme Court did Nixon surrender those recordings, which captured him plotting the cover-up and authorizing payments of thousands of dollars in hush money.”
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