Sunday, October 03, 2010

Why Robert Redford Needs to Make a Sequel to 'All The President’s Men'

The Dark Side of Bob Woodward His Admirers Would Just as Soon Not Deal With

It would be easy to dismiss some of these astonishing revelations about Bob Woodward were it not for the fact they come from Russ Baker, a respected award-winning investigative journalist with a long and distinguished list of journalistic scoops, often going where establishment media has dared not go, often taking on establishment media. Baker has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice and Esquire among dozens of other major domestic and foreign publications.

The most explosive of Baker’s revelations is that Watergate, the story that brought down President Nixon and put Bob Woodward on the map, was itself a coverup of a coverup or, as the popular AMC show Rubicon advertises, “not every conspiracy is a theory.” Baker explains:
“Believe me, I understand. It sounds like the “conspiracy theory” stuff that we have been trained to dismiss. But I’ve just spent five years on a heavily documented forensic dig into this missing strata of American history, and I myself have had to come to terms with the enormous gap between reality and the “reality” presented by the media and various establishment gatekeepers who tell us what’s what.”

On Watergate, Baker’s revelations about Woodward are the stuff of a necessary sequel to All the President’s Men. I hope Robert Redford is aware of this, because sometimes Hollywood is as good a vehicle as any to get the truth out to a wider audience. (Do you suppose Woodward and Bernstein would sue?) Baker on the hidden story of Watergate:
“Here’s the deal: Bob, top secret Naval officer, gets sent to work in the Nixon White House while still on military duty. Then, with no journalistic credentials to speak of, and with a boost from White House staffers, he lands a job at the Washington Post.  Not long thereafter he starts to take down Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, Woodward’s military bosses are running a spy ring inside the White House that is monitoring Nixon and Kissinger’s secret negotiations with America’s enemies (China, Soviet Union, etc), stealing documents and funneling them back to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They then give what they stole to columnist Jack Anderson and others in the press.

That’s not the iconic Woodward of legend, of course — so it takes a while for this notion to settle in the mind.  But there’s more — and it’s even more troubling. Did you know there was really no Deep Throat, that the Mark Felt story was conjured up as yet another layer of cover in what became a daisy chain of disinformation? Did you know that Richard Nixon was loathed and feared by the military brass, that they and their allies were desperate to get Nixon out and halt his rapprochement with the Communists?  That a bunch of operatives with direct or indirect CIA/military connections, from E. Howard Hunt to Alexander Butterfield to John Dean — wormed their way into key White House posts, and started up the Keystone Kops operations that would be laid at Nixon’s office door?”

Back to the present, Baker “highlights what a crucial aspect of Bob Woodward’s career that has been ignored by most of the media. Simply put, Woodward is the military’s man, and always has been.” Woodward’s sourcing of events are reconstructions from multiple sources, including interviews on background, leaked memos, meeting notes, rather than from the principals involved. As the New York Times pointed out in its critique of Woodward’s latest book, Obama’s Wars, he “acknowledges that attributions of thoughts, conclusions or feelings to a person were in some cases not obtained directly from that person, but from notes or from a colleague whom the person told — a questionable but increasingly popular method, which means the reader should take the reconstructed scenes with a grain of salt.”

Russ Baker’s independent journalism project, WhoWhatWhy, “embodies a form of investigative reporting that is rigorous, relentless and scientific — we call it forensic journalism.” I urge all who are committed to the truth, to journalism’s simple but noble mission of informing the public, to support Russ Baker’s project and bookmark it among your favorites.

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