On Wednesday, Front Page Magazine posted an article about Watergate. Watergate was a long time ago, but the article explains how it is relevant today. The article is titled, “Exploding the Watergate Myth.” The article deals with a recent book written by John O’Connor, a veteran criminal prosecutor and friend of FBI number-two Mark Felt (who later admitted to being Deep Throat). The book is titled, The Mysteries of Watergate: What Really Happened. I would also recommend another book that undoes much of what we have been told about Watergate–The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President by Geoff Sheppard. Both of these books totally contradict what we were led to believe at the time and both reach very interesting conclusions. For more information on the Geoff Sheppard book look here.
The article cites a lot of interesting ideas from the John O’Connor book:
By book’s end, Woodward and Bernstein – and their editors – no longer look like heroes. Far from it. Also, the title All the President’s Men turns out to be a misnomer. Watergate wasn’t really a Nixon job. It was a CIA caper.
Where to start? Perhaps with Howard Hunt, the White House operative whose name was found in address books belonging to two of the Watergate burglars. If you saw All the President’s Men, you may remember Woodward’s discovery that Hunt was also at the CIA and that he worked part-time at a PR firm called Mullen. Mullen never comes up again in the movie. In fact, as Woodstein soon found out, it was a CIA front.
But that little detail never made it way into any of their Post articles. Because on July 10, 1972, according to CIA records to which O’Connor gained access, Mullen’s president, Robert F. Bennett made a deal with Woodward – O’Connor calls it “a conspiracy of obstruction” – to feed him Watergate stories in exchange for a promise to omit from Post reporting any mention of Mullen’s role as a CIA front. It was a highly curious arrangement, given that, as O’Connor notes, “Bennett had no stories to feed Woodward, who, with Deep Throat’s help, hardly needed Bennett. So if Woodward kept quiet, and intentionally so, about Mullen, it was for the Post’s purposes, not the CIA’s.”
And what were the Post’s purposes? Well, it soon became clear to Woodstein that the Watergate break-in had been a CIA operation for which Hunt, because he was a White House official, had been able to claim presidential authorization. Yet the Post – which, as O’Connor notes, was founded in 1877 as “the official organ of the Democratic Party” and which in the 1970s, believe it or not, shared a general counsel (Joseph Califano) with the DNC – didn’t want to bring down the CIA. It wanted to bring down Nixon. And after learning that the CIA’s motive for the break-in had to do not with political secrets but with a prostitution referral service that was operating out of DNC headquarters, the Post wanted to protect Democrats.
Why, then, did Nixon pursue the ultimately self-destructive cover-up? Because John Dean – the White House counsel who, unbeknownst to Nixon, had had his own personal reasons for wanting the DNC’s prostitution records – urged Nixon to do so, never informing him that what he was covering up was, in fact, a CIA project. As O’Connor observes, if Nixon hadn’t pursued the cover-up, the truth about the break-in might actually have come out, and Nixon would’ve been seen not as its mastermind but as an innocent fall guy.
You may ask: if the Post hid the truth about Watergate, how did that truth stay hidden for so long? The answer requires you, if you’re old enough, to think back to the pre-Internet era. It was remarkably easy, back then, to hide facts – even facts that had gone public. As it happens, news stories containing key elements of the real Watergate story appeared at the time in various newspapers around the U.S. But they weren’t national newspapers. Their reports weren’t picked up by other media. And so they disappeared quickly down the memory hole.
The article at Front Page Magazine mentions the Geoff Sheppard book:
There’s another relatively new Watergate book that’s well worth reading. In The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President, Geoff Shepard, who was a young lawyer in the Nixon White House, doesn’t focus overmuch on the Post or the CIA or the reasons for the DNC break-in, but instead laments Nixon’s betrayal by appointees like John Dean and Elliott Richardson, demonstrates that Nixon was a victim of “extensive judicial and prosecutorial abuse,” and shows how, once Nixon was in their crosshairs, leading figures in the Deep State – from Bradlee to Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, both Kennedy family intimates – cynically worked together to remove from the Oval Office a man who’d just been re-elected by an overwhelming margin of 520 to 17 electoral votes, but whom they, the Beltway insiders who felt their own judgment should trump that of the American people, uniformly despised.
And they won.
The article concludes:
Woodward and Bernstein didn’t just destroy Nixon. They radically altered the course of American history. By bringing down Nixon, they gave us Jimmy Carter. They revealed to their colleagues in the American news media just how much power they all had to shape public opinion – and how much wealth and prestige they could accrue by bending the facts to fit a partisan narrative. Woodstein’s example made possible the news media’s use, decades later, of endlessly repeated lies about Donald Trump to bring down yet another successful presidency.
In short, the real story of Watergate is far different from the story we’ve been told all these years. The only remaining mystery now is this: to what, if any, degree will John O’Connor, in the face of a press corps and a community of academic historians who are devoted to the Watergate myth, succeed in replacing that myth, in the public record, with the Nixon-friendly, Post-damning facts?
And this is the reason Watergate is relevant today–it provides a pattern for the media and deep state to destroy a successful presidency that is a threat to their power.