Sunday, June 05, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed - My Reaction

It's most likely a generation gap issue, but I'm not at all plugged in to the high emotional content of this story. Those who've referred to Felt as a sneak or a traitor come off as laughable to me, while the cynics over the Felt family motives are simply annoying. It seems as though everyone's taken their positions to the extreme end far too fast in an effort to get out a sound-byte.

What so many of the people trying to tear down Felt conveniently forget to mention, from my perspective, is that the Nixon administration really was doing something wrong. I'm sure there were power games going on beyond the fact that Felt was confirming information for Woodward and Bernstein. It's politics. Felt was not a hero and he was not a traitor to the Nixon administration either. It's not something you can white-hat/black-hat. He was a whistle-blower in a way, yes, but Woodward has made the point that much of the time Felt was confirming info that the journalists had gotten elsewhere, not masterminding it.

I think the fact that his identity was concealed for so long helped create this problem, however. Several articles have dwelled on the fact that the mystery made it possible for Deep Throat's cult status to grow, possibly beyond any reasonable estimation of his actual importance in the scheme of the story. The mystery-man became the story instead of the facts, so now that there's a clear target a lot of people are taking a shot. Or twenty.

I feel the Post is more than justified in having kept Deep Throat's identity concealed. If the only way a paper could write a story is to list everyone they talked to, nobody would risk talking to the paper for fear of the consequences. Papers have not only a duty to the public at large, they have a duty to protect those who bring them the information that will serve the public at large. One of the biggest things we've learned here is that there must be trust between a reporter and a source as well as a reporter and the reading public.