june 2005

click here for permalink June 05, 2005

Last week, a man named Mark Felt, formerly the second-highest ranking official at the FBI, came out of the proverbial shadows to settle bets everywhere and put to rest one of the greatest mysteries in modern journalism...

At 91, Felt came forward to reveal himself as the secret source of inside information during the Watergate scandal that led Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstien to break one of the biggest stories (if not the biggest story) in the history of news.

The full story is available at Vanity Fair online. The article by Bob Woodward, which it seems a ridiculous understatement to call "long-awaited," is available here. It's strange reading an article that you imagine the writer must have written and rewritten, wondering if it would ever be read by another human being, for over 30 years.

And you know he must have been writing it this whole time, if only in his head, but I think more likely on paper and maybe without the names. As the years went by, maybe it migrated to a home computer, saved away in a deceptively named folder on an encrypted disc that was carefully locked away in a drawer so that it's secret couldn't be discovered by accident.

This story (see All the Presidents Men if you're missing any history) seems more important now than at any other time since it broke in 1972. Given the current state of the media, the story of this story seems more unlikely now than ever, the same way that, through the lens of history, Lewis and Clark and Paul Revere look less like real men and more like something from a kind of collective mythology.

(Or from a star-making Hollywood vehicle for a wholesome young hero as one of two inexperienced but driven reporters pursuing an implausible story of government curruption despite the fact that it jeopardizes both their lives and their jobs but, once the truth is exposed, it not only cements their journalistic careers but sparks the most spectacular political downfall in American history?)

Hard to imagine something like that happening today without having been orchestrated by a corporate media conglomerate or choreographed by one political party to damage the other. Impossible to imagine it happening out of a desire to see the truth told and the guilty brought to justice.

Then again, we do have Michael Moore. He's no Robert Redford but he's a fierce bulldog for truth and justice and we should consider ourselves extremely fortunate that he's chosen to do this with his life instead of selling condos or sporting equipment in Michegan somewhere.

On a semi-related note, The Corporation came out on DVD in April with more hours in extras than there were in the actual film (which was originally edited down from 35). I highly, unreservedly recommend it to everyone. It's brilliant and fascinating although, of course, depressing (what about real life doesn't seem overwhelming and depressing these days? We settle for feeling amazed and exultant when the facts and details are this boldly and undeniably revealed).

On another tangent, I can no longer find the awesome "Dead Celebrity Soulmate Search" they had on Biography.com about a month ago. A Google search reveals nothing but dozens of other web logs that had linked to it and now point to a Biography.com error page. Bad Biography.com!! Move things, sure, hide them from visitors who come in the front door if you must, but don't just remove content and leave the Internet full of links leading nowhere! (Do they think it's 1999 over there?)

The search wasn't completely fruitless, though, as I did find this: the answer to all my problems. Heh, just kidding. (I do own the book, though).