Skip to comments.ABC & CBS Counter Felt Critics, Contend Felt Had to Go to Media
Posted on 06/03/2005 3:56:17 PM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
ABC and CBS on Wednesday night devoted stories to discrediting the notion that former FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt behaved disreputably by giving information in a criminal probe to reporters. The stories began with denunciations of him from Nixon loyalists, then took on those claims. "Critics say he should have gone to his superiors through channels," World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson noted before adding: "His supporters point out his superiors were in on the Watergate coverup, that he did the only thing he could to uphold the honor of the FBI." ABC's Dean Reynolds recited a long list of those Felt could not go to, such as: "Felt couldn't go to the special prosecutor. Archibald Cox didn't have the job for almost a year after the break-in. The Senate Watergate Committee also started a year later, and may not have existed at all had Felt not begun guiding the Post months earlier...." CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts plugged the upcoming story: "We now know that he was Deep Throat. Was Mark Felt a hero as well?" Wyatt Andrews countered the Nixonites with how "at the Washington Post, Felt is a hero for all the risks he took."
Unaddressed by ABC's Reynolds: Felt's possible revenge motive when President Nixon chose someone else to succeed J. Edgar Hoover as FBI Director, to say nothing about now treating a Hoover aide as a font of integrity holding off interference from the White House when Hoover used information to blackmail Presidents and suppress their critics. Gibson teased the June 1 World News Tonight: "'A Closer Look' at the debate over Deep Throat: A brave patriot or a man who simply broke the law?"
Gibson soon plugged the upcoming piece: "When we come back, the FBI official and the fall of a President. Quite a debate today. Did Deep Throat do the right thing? We'll take 'A Closer Look.'"
As taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, Gibson set up the eventual story: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at the debate that has followed the revelation that W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat. In becoming a source for the Washington Post during Watergate, Felt may have changed the course of history, but as an FBI official, did he act appropriately talking clandestinely to reporters? Critics say he should have gone to his superiors through channels. His supporters point out his superiors were in on the Watergate coverup, that he did the only thing he could to uphold the honor of the FBI. Here's ABC's Dean Reynolds."
From Chicago, Reynolds began over video of Felt: "It took 33 years for this old man to claim his place in American history, but some with long memories are unwilling to give him the space."
Unidentified WLS radio talk show host: "Mr. Felt is not a man I would say has honored the noblest traditions of this country."
Unidentified KGO radio talk show host: "Mr. Felt was committing a crime by going to Bob Woodward in a garage."
Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball: "Bad guy, good guy, Mark Felt?"
Pat Buchanan, on Hardball: "I think he was a snake."
Reynolds: "Critics believe Mark Felt breached a code of ethics by ignoring the government chain of command and taking his information to the Washington Post instead." Colson Charles, former Nixon White House aide: "When you have to blow the whistle, there's an proper way to do it. I don't think Mark did it in a professional way."
Reynolds launched a defense of Felt's actions: "Felt saw the Watergate cover-up as an obstruction of justice. And, as the one leading the FBI investigation into the Watergate break-in, he had information that the obstruction was erected by his superiors. He knew, for example, that his FBI boss, acting director L. Patrick Gray, was destroying evidence implicating White House officials."
Terry Lenzner, Senate Watergate Committee former counsel: "He took files from the investigation at the FBI headquarters, drove to Memorial Bridge and threw them in the river."
Over historic photos of those cited, Reynolds recited a list of those Felt supposedly could not trust: "Felt couldn't go to the special prosecutor. Archibald Cox didn't have the job for almost a year after the break-in. The Senate Watergate Committee also started a year later, and may not have existed at all had Felt not begun guiding the Post months earlier. Felt had no confidence that turning to higher-ups at the Nixon Justice Department would be productive. Fred LaRue, special assistant to Attorney General John Mitchell, was believed in on the cover-up, as was Assistant Attorney General Robert Mardian. And going to either Mitchell or Mitchell's successor as Attorney General, Richard Kleindienst, would have been a very bad idea. After all, Mitchell approved the Watergate break-in, and Kleindienst soft-pedaled the government probe of the scandal before resigning in the midst of it. Both men were convicted."
Jules Witcover, Baltimore Sun: "To go and report to the Attorney General what he found out, I think, would have been political suicide for him and probably lost his job."
Reynolds: "Nor was going to the White House a choice. Felt knew top Nixon advisors H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichmann were implicated, along with White House Counsel John Dean, to say nothing of Nixon himself."
Terry Lenzner, Senate Watergate Committee Former Counsel: "The whole government would have been after him. Every agency that had any enforcement power would have been after him."
Reynolds concluded: "So, with reluctance, Mark Felt turned to the Post. And like it or not, the rest is history. Dean Reynolds, ABC News, Chicago."
Of course, there were other courses of action Felt could have taken. He didn't need, for instance, a special committee to be established in order to talk to the Democratic majority staffs or Chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.
Over on the CBS Evening News, Wyatt Andrews teased up top: "I'm Wyatt Andrews. Deep Throat today is being called a hero, but also a turncoat."
Anchor John Roberts, with "Hero or Villain?" on screen, plugged the story: "Coming up next on tonight's CBS Evening News, we now know that he was Deep Throat. Was Mark Felt a hero as well? That's tonight's 'Inside Story.'"
Roberts introduced the story: "Now that we know who Deep Throat was, what he did three decades ago is getting a new look. Were the actions of the veteran FBI man, Mark Felt, during the Watergate investigation brave and noble? Or were they something quite a bit less than that? It all depends who you ask, as Wyatt Andrews reports in tonight's 'Inside Story.'"
Andrews began: "He helped unveil a scandal and unseat a President, but was Mark Felt, the man called Deep Throat, a hero or an FBI turncoat?"
Mark Felt, in the passenger seat of a car: "All I feel like is 92 years old."
Andrews: "The hero question is so hot in Washington, the President ducked it by a mile."
George W. Bush: "It's hard for me to judge. I'm learning more about the situation."
Andrews: "To Nixon loyalists, the legacy of deep throat is one of dishonor. Bernard Barker, one of the Watergate burglars, showered Deep Throat with contempt."
Bernard Barker, Watergate burglar: "I think he is a crumb, and I think that, I don't see how he can live with himself."
Andrews: "Nixon's speech writer, Pat Buchanan, says Felt should have told his boss or even the President, not a reporter."
Pat Buchanan, former Nixon speech writer, to Andrews during a sidewalk interview: "Well, I think Mark Felt dishonored his code to the FBI, he broke the law, he gave away secrets he shouldn't have given away."
Andrews: "What Mark Felt did while number two at the FBI was to steer Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward toward the stories of unthinkable corruption inside the White House. Deep Throat revealed that former CIA agent Howard Hunt worked for the White House and planned the Watergate break-in, that former Attorney General John Mitchell paid for the break-in, and that the President's chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, controlled a cash fund to finance political dirty tricks. So why didn't felt report this to his boss, FBI Director L. Patrick Gray? Because Gray was allowing the White House to control the investigation."
Richard Ben-Veniste, former Watergate prosecutor: "Well, there wasn't any place to go higher up for Mark Felt."
Andrews: "Former Watergate prosecutor Richard Ben-Veniste says without the Post and Deep Throat's information, the Watergate coverup might have succeeded. You view him with respect?"
Ben-Veniste: "I view him as having done a service to the country in providing this information."
Andrews: "At the Washington Post, Felt is a hero for all the risks he took."
Ben Bradlee, former Executive Editor of the Washington Post: "I think it was a gutsy thing to do. He knew his career was in the balance."
Andrews, with the Watergate complex behind him: "Perhaps what's most revealing is that Mark Felt himself had a conflict over being seen as a hero. He had clung to his secrecy for 30 years precisely because he feared his actions would look bad, only to be persuaded by his family he'd be seen with honor. John?"
Roberts: "So, Wyatt, is there going to be a book about all of this? And who's it going to come from, the family?"
Andrews: "John, it gets interesting from here because Mark Felt apparently remembers being Deep Throat but not the details. So you have to wonder where a book would come out of that? Bob Woodward, on the other hand, has a book virtually ready to go. And so if there's a competition between the family and Woodward over marketing this story, Woodward would seem to have the edge."
Roberts: "Boy, competition for a 30-year-old secret. You'd think that they would have had this figured out by now. Wyatt Andrews outside the Watergate."
This story will continue to be spun by MSM for as long as they can because it has been a particularly bad year for them. They have few new home runs. They have to talk about old ones.
Linda R. Tripp
Click on linked names to read about other key players, or see the full list.
A former White House secretary, first during George Bush's presidency and then during President Clinton's, Tripp, 48, was forced out of the White House and assigned to the Pentagon public affairs department.
At the urging of her friend, Lucianne Goldberg, in the fall of 1997 she began making secret tapes of co-worker Monica Lewinsky's allegations of a sexual relationship with Clinton. She gave the tapes to Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr on Jan. 12, 1998, and the following day let FBI agents wire her with a hidden microphone to record another conversation with Lewinsky.
On Jan. 16, she secretly met with a member of Paula Jones's legal team to brief them about Lewinsky's relationship with Clinton, giving them the information they needed to ask the president detailed questions during his deposition the following day.
Once the scandal erupted, Tripp was widely reviled by Clinton backers, Lewinsky lawyers and others for betraying a friend's trust. In her first public statement, on July 29, she attempted to depict herself as an "average American" without political motive who has been "vilified for taking the path of truth."
Tripp now faces her own legal problems. A Maryland grand jury is looking into whether her secret tape-recordings violated state wiretapping law. And her erstwhile ally, Starr, has turned on her, launching an investigation of whether Tripp tampered with some of the Lewinsky tapes and lied under oath when she testified that she had not altered them or made copies.
Tripp Indicted on Charges of Wiretapping (July 31, 1999)
Tripp Says She'd 'Do It All Again' (Feb. 12, 1999)
Tripp's Tapes: Listening in on a Betrayal (Nov. 18, 1998)
Tapes Make Tripp's Role Clearer (Oct. 3, 1998)
Excerpts From the Tripp Tapes (Oct. 2, 1998)
Shedding New Light on Linda Tripp's Role (Sept. 23, 1998)
Evidence: The Tapes (Sept. 22, 1998)
Starr Also Is Probing Tripp Tapes (Sept. 12, 1998)
Tripp Talks Back to Her Critics (July 30, 1998)
Text of Tripp's Statement (July 29, 1998)
Maryland Jury to Probe Tripp's Taping (July 30, 1998)
Linda's Trip (March 15, 1998)
Tripp's Curious Path to the Pentagon (Feb. 7, 1998)
Statement by Linda Tripp (Jan. 30, 1998)
In Tripp's Career, Clues to Motivation (Jan. 25, 1998)
Once-Trusted Aide at Heart of It All (Jan. 23, 1998)
(Updated February 25, 1999)
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company
Buchanan had a good suggestion. Felt should have gone to the leaders of the Senate or Congress. Both were in Democratic hands at the time and most certainly would have seen that the information wasn't squelched.
Napolitano said Felt should have resigned, claiming he could no longer work for an institution and a President who were so corrupt. Then leave it to others to put the pressure where it needed to be put.
Some compare it to Linda Tripp, which is ridiculous. Linda Tripp did not share information collected by an FBI investigation. She went to the FBI with information she considered to be illegal. Then the investigation started. No comparison whatsoever.
If the identity of Felt had been known at the time, he would most likely have been prosecuted (maybe not convicted, but at least prosecuted) because what he did was and is illegal beyond a doubt.
Since it's SeeBS and ABC, I expect they'll soon announce that Linda Lovelace is ALSO a "patriotic, America hero." Those people at SeeBS and ABC are some real sickos.
Same thing in the USA Today, an editorial endorsing the actions of Felt on 'balance'. So ridiculous.
Well at least the media is consistent in supporting FBI personnel who spill the beans about US presidents. I remember how they lauded Gary Aldrich for his courage in making public the extent of Clinton's corruption.
Oh wait. Now I remember. The media didn't do that. They ganged up on Aldrich and trashed his reputation in short order.
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