Rearranging the Watergate Myth

Exclusive: A Washington axiom holds that that when power and truth clash, power usually wins, but the contest can be complicated by competing personal agendas, as James DiEugenio notes about a new Watergate movie.

By James DiEugenio

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein had two distinct advantages in putting their imprint on Watergate as the story’s principal heroes. First, timing: their book All the President’s Men was published in June 1974 before the scandal had run its course, indeed, before President Nixon resigned that August. Thus, they were out of the box before any rivals.

Liam Neeson as FBI insider Mark Felt in a new Watergate movie.

Second, they got sound advice: Robert Redford purchased the rights to their book when it was in the manuscript stage and he tilted its construction from a third-person objective view, to a first-person political adventure story to make the book more adaptable as a film. (The Secret Man, by Bob Woodward, p. 113)

Since the movie ended up being a big hit, this further enhanced the two reporters’ standing at the center of Watergate.

Redford’s influence also molded the use of an anonymous source who spoke on “deep background.” Hence, the memorable name given to him in the book, Deep Throat, an ironic play on the title of a pornographic movie that coincidentally was released just five days before five burglars working for Nixon’s campaign were captured inside the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building on June 17, 1972.

In 2005, in the pages of Vanity Fair, it was finally revealed that Mark Felt, the number-two man at the FBI, had been Deep Throat, a revelation that created a media firestorm and prompted another scramble for book and movie rights.

Yet, when Felt’s daughter Joan asked Woodward to co-author a book with her 91-year-old, ailing father, Woodward declined. Instead, he wrote his own book, The Secret Man, which beat Felt’s book (A G-Man’s Life co-authored by attorney John O’Connor) to the market by almost a year.

Woodward seemed to owe a great deal to Felt for his assistance as a Watergate source, yet in the book, Woodward went out of his way to demonstrate that Felt suffered from severe memory loss as early as 2000 when the reporter visited Felt after a lecture he gave in California.

The Mark Felt Movie

The movie took another ten years to get into production. Written and directed by Peter Landesman who wrote the script for the fine film about Gary Webb, Kill the Messenger, the current film bears the cumbersome title, Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House. It also does not approach the Webb film in quality. One reason is that Landesman was stuck with Felt as his main focus. And, as even Woodward tried to explain in The Secret Man, it is not easy to explain why Felt did what he did.

Robert Redford portraying Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men.”

Previously, Woodward and Bernstein had maintained that Deep Throat was trying to shield the office of the presidency “to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.” (Woodward and Bernstein, p. 243)  In 1992, journalist James Mann proffered the FBI defense concept. Mann, who correctly thought Deep Throat was Felt, theorized that the veteran FBI agent thought the White House would try to pull a power play on the Bureau to obstruct justice. (The Atlantic, May/92)

Then there is the careerist Inside-the-Beltway theory: Felt leaked in order to make acting FBI Director L. Patrick Gray look bad, in hopes that Nixon would replace Gray with Felt. By 2005, even Woodward, in The Secret Man, acknowledged this was a distinct possibility.

What made the third motive — Felt’s drive to be named FBI Director — a possibility was that on May 2, 1972 (about six weeks before the Watergate break-in), longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was found dead in his home. A few days later, his lifelong friend and FBI colleague Clyde Tolson resigned his number-two position.

At that point, most FBI observers saw three men as the frontrunners to succeed Hoover: Felt, who was next in line in the FBI hierarchy; former number-three man Cartha DeLoach, who had retired in 1970 for a more lucrative job at Pepsi-Cola but was favored by Attorney General Richard Kleindienst; and former director of domestic intelligence William Sullivan, who had been forced into retirement by Hoover for insubordination the year before. [See L. Patrick Gray and Ed Gray, In Nixon’s Web, pgs. 16-17]

L. Patrick Gray was not on most lists. He had been part of a distinguished law firm in Connecticut and came to Washington in 1970 to work under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Robert Finch. At the time of Hoover’s death, Gray was awaiting confirmation as Deputy Attorney General. But Nixon chose Gray as acting FBI director within 48 hours of Hoover’s death. The reason ostensibly was that by choosing someone from the outside, it would be easier to glide the person through the confirmation process to be permanent director. As an outsider, Gray was not tainted by the scandals that were beginning to erupt over the FBI’s COINTELPRO domestic spying.

Motivational Mysteries

So, among the enduring mysteries of Watergate were these two: what had motivated Felt to become Deep Throat and whether his and Woodward’s roles were as central to the scandal as All the President’s Men made them out to be. In discussing his film, Landesman has called All the President’s Men part of the “mythology” of Watergate and contended that the Woodward/Bernstein contribution to Watergate has been overrated: That the crisis was resolved by many more people than those two reporters gave credit to. Referring to the Woodward/Bernstein role, Landesman said, “It’s not even a big piece of the whole picture.”

The Washington Post’s Watergate team, including from left to right, publisher Katharine Graham, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Howard Simons, and executive editor Ben Bradlee.

There is also strong evidence that Felt, who died in 2008, was himself overrated as part of the mythology of the Woodward/Bernstein shaping of the story. But Landesman was not going to touch that angle because it would undercut the rationale for his film.

Since Landesman’s film was based on the Felt/O’Connor book, it also was never going to use the Shakespearean dramatic concept of Felt’s ambition to be FBI director as the character’s motivating factor. Yet, in contrast to All the President’s Men, Landesman does not focus on the notion that Felt was driven by the altruistic motive of preserving the sanctity of the White House. For the most part, Landesman portrays Felt as protecting the FBI from getting run over by the White House as part of a cover-up, a theme struck in the first major scene.

Felt is at the White House at some point before Hoover’s death talking to Attorney General John Mitchell and White House counsel John Dean about what it would take to convince Hoover to resign. The scene ends with Felt warning the White House that Hoover has secret files on everybody in Washington. Therefore, it would not be wise to press him to do something he really does not want to do.

The film also makes Gray the antagonist to Landesman’s hero Felt. So, after Hoover dies, the film has Gray asking for Hoover’s infamous Official and Confidential files that contain the dirt on Washington’s powerbrokers, but Felt arranges their destruction before they can fall into Gray’s hands. However, according to both a House committee investigation and Curt Gentry’s detailed biography of Hoover, that is not what happened. The destruction of the files was ordered by Tolson, and it went on for weeks after the files were transferred back to Hoover’s home.  (Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover, pgs. 730-35)

Landesman’s second antagonist to Felt is William Sullivan, which leads to another case of dramatic license. In the Felt/O’Connor book, and in Landesman’s movie, Sullivan is meant to be the epitome of all that was bad with the FBI under Hoover. In the film, after Hoover’s funeral – but before Gray was appointed – there is a scene between Sullivan and Felt in which the two men discuss who would be the better successor.

Felt’s position was to defend Hoover’s practices and push many of the abuses off on Sullivan, such as wiretaps ordered up by then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger but which were approved by Hoover; and the letter to Martin Luther King Jr., suggesting he commit suicide, written by Sullivan but approved by Hoover. (Gentry, pgs. 571-72; 632-33) As Woodward notes, Felt even tried to defend Hoover’s years long campaign against King.  (Woodward, The Secret Man, p. 43)

Disappearing Woodward/Bernstein

Once the film gets into Watergate, there are two aspects to the script that are notable. First, the main press representative that Felt begins leaking to is Sandy Smith of Time magazine, not Woodward. Indeed, Woodward takes up less than five minutes of screen time and Bernstein is not even a character in the film (making me wonder if this is part of the residue left over from Woodward’s rejection of Felt as a co-author in 2005). In the film, Smith, who Felt meets twice in a low-class diner, is clearly the main recipient of Felt’s leaking. Smith did get information from Felt and ran some significant stories on Watergate. (Felt and O’Connor, p. 198)

President Richard Nixon with his then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger in 1972.

But this leads us to the key aspect of Landesman’s script. In its attempt to make Gray into a villain, the use of dramatic license gets extravagant. As John Dean has noted in his review of the O’Connor/Felt book, a lot of what Felt conveyed to Woodward turned out to be wrong.  [New York Times, May 7, 2006] For instance, as Dean knows since he was White House counsel, the White House monitored the FBI investigation not through Gray but through Assistant Attorney General Henry Peterson. Yet, the message of this film is that Felt was a hero because Gray was, to say the least, not a very zealous investigator on the Watergate case.

Today, the problem with trying to sustain the story of Felt as truth-teller and Gray as at best a foot-dragger is that when Gray died in 2005, he was working on a Watergate book that his son Ed Gray completed. Patrick Gray kept cartons of handwritten notes during his year as acting FBI director, allowing his son to finish the book in 2008 and establish that Patrick Gray was not part of the cover-up. In reading through the notes, Ed Gray discovered that his father’s early thoughts about the break-in were remarkably acute. (See the notes depicted on pages 60 and 85)

Within 72 hours, after checking to see if the FBI had the primary jurisdiction in the case, he wrote an unequivocal order that as many agents and supervisors would be applied to Watergate to make sure that an “absolute, immediate, and imaginative investigation is conducted. All leads are to be set out by telephone and teletype as appropriate. Bureau to be aware of all leads.” (ibid, p. 63)

So, if you’re trying to cover up a crime, why would you ask that all leads be sent out by teletype and telephone which would distribute the information to a large number of agents? And, why would you also order as much manpower as necessary?

As the film progresses, the dramatic line portraying Gray as the bad guy was accentuated more and more. For instance, there is a scene in which Gray tells Felt that they have to wrap up the case in 48 hours, which is contradicted by the expansive order from Gray to his FBI subordinates. In Gray’s book, it is shown that it was White House adviser John Ehrlichman who gave the suggestion for an early wrap up to Peterson, and he refused it. (Gray p. 69)

The evidence suggests that one of Felt’s principal goals was to discredit Gray, in part, by spreading misinformation to Woodward, such as Felt’s description of a White House meeting at which Nixon informs Gray that he will be nominated as permanent FBI director. The third person at the meeting was Ehrlichman, who took notes. The conversation was also taped.

Misleading Leak

In one of the parking-garage meetings, Felt told Woodward that the conversation was all about Watergate, that Gray had told the White House about his containment strategy and wanted to be rewarded with appointment as permanent director, an account that Woodward and Bernstein published in their book. It never seemed to dawn on them that Felt couldn’t know this because he wasn’t there and had access to neither the taping system nor Ehrlichman’s notes. Gray’s lawyer called Woodward and requested they place an on-page rejoinder to this libel, which the publishers did. (Gray, p. 180) But the incident showed how unreliable Felt was about Gray.

The Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Committee had its headquarters in 1972.

John McDermott, who was the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington office from the fall of 1972 and later rose to number-three man in the Bureau, responded to Felt’s version of events in a private manuscript, writing that there was no evidence that the FBI’s inquiry was effectively sidelined by Gray or anyone else. Later, in a letter, he asked anyone to come forward with evidence to prove any suppression or diversion of the FBI’s inquiry. He concluded that if no one could do so then Felt’s accusation amounted to rubbish. (Letter to Craig Detlo, 11/1/2006)

The film’s climax is Gray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation to be permanent director. The film suggests that what sank his nomination was that he allowed John Dean to sit in on interviews the FBI did with White House employees. But that is not the whole story. Gray explained that because the White House was not a suspect in the crime, the employer legal privilege prevailed. And he noted that he also let lawyers from the Democratic National Committee sit in on interviews with their employees.

Whether or not that judgment was a good one, what really sank Gray’s nomination was a story that he leaked to Senator Lowell Weicker, a personal friend. Near the beginning of the Watergate scandal, Dean and Ehrlichman called Gray to the White House and gave him files from E. Howard Hunt’s safe. They told him these dealt with national security matters, not Watergate. Therefore, they should never see the light of day.

Gray believed them and eventually burned the files after only glancing at them. It turned out that one of the files dealt with Hunt’s attempt to forge State Department memos stating President Kennedy ordered the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. The other file was Hunt’s attempt to dig up dirt on Ted Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick Incident. Technically they did not have anything to do with Watergate. But the fact that Gray had incinerated evidence from Hunt’s White House safe – and that Hunt was implicated in the Watergate burglary – was too much for the mushrooming scandal. Gray called up President Nixon and said he was withdrawing his nomination.

The film shows Felt’s retirement ceremony and Nixon’s speech resigning the presidency, implying that Felt retired once he knew Nixon was forced to resign. But this is more dramatic license. Felt resigned a full year before Nixon stepped down and Felt’s retirement had nothing to do with Nixon’s resignation. Felt was forced out because the new FBI Director, William Ruckelshaus, suspected him of leaking more information about the Kissinger wiretaps, which may or may not have been the case. (Gray, p. 267)

Beyond the problems with the script, the film is executed in largely a pedestrian manner. Landesman should have looked at what director Michael Cuesta did in Kill the Messenger. In a film that was essentially a newspaper story, Cuesta applied some subtle and quiet cinematic techniques in order to make the story visually interesting and dramatically potent. I can’t say that about Landesman’s effort here. His direction is only one notch above what a television version of the film would be.

The one exception was Liam Neeson’s performance as Felt. Except for Schindler’s List, Neeson has never gotten much opportunity to show what a good actor he is. But here he is both solid and subtle. He never strikes a false move and never forces anything. It’s a controlled, quiet performance that is clearly the best in the film.

There’s also a larger historical issue that goes unaddressed, the connection between Nixon’s 1968 sabotage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks and Nixon’s panic over a file containing evidence of what Johnson called Nixon’s “treason,” a file that disappeared from the White House with Johnson’s departure in January 1969. Nixon, who was informed about the existence of the file by Hoover, grew increasingly concerned in 1971 when Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers which chronicled the Vietnam War lies up to 1967.

What Nixon knew was that there was a potentially more explosive sequel detailing his own treachery that may have extended the war several years. Amid the furor over the Pentagon Papers, Nixon ordered Howard Hunt to create a team to finally locate the file and even considered breaking into the Brookings Institution where some Nixon aides thought the file might be hidden. Hunt’s team later undertook a number of other black-bag operations including the Watergate break-in, but never found the file, which actually was in the possession of Johnson’s last National Security Advisor Walt Rostow. [See’s “The Heinous Crime Behind Watergate.”]

So, the more we learn about Watergate the more we can see that it was in some ways a drama of different people’s hidden agendas being played off against other people’s agendas. One of those players was Bob Woodward. Another was Mark Felt.  For dramatic reasons, Robert Redford wanted to exalt the role of the former. For his own artistic reasons, Landesman wants to make Mark Felt the hero of his 2017 revisionist version. For this reviewer, this just substitutes one dubious protagonist for another.

James DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era. His most recent book is Reclaiming Parkland.

43 comments for “Rearranging the Watergate Myth

  1. KT
    November 10, 2017 at 21:18

    Very fascinating analysis and comments…

    Here’s Ed Gray discussing the book and his Dad’s experiences in 2008 on C-SPAN at the Nixon Library.

  2. November 3, 2017 at 15:57

    Zachary, as Bob has said before the Democrats have this penchant for making nice even when they are in the White House. Bill Clinton was probably the worst. But then when I learned that the Clintons vacationed with Kissinger in the Bahamas. That stunned even me. Here is a guy who was responsible for the deaths of probably over two million people in Indochina, and that is being conservative. What could you possibly learn from someone like that?

    I prefer Bobby Kennedy’s characterization of Nixon in 1964. He called him a scumbag.

  3. November 2, 2017 at 23:10

    Thanks Mark and I agree.

    But I have to add, Nixon was just a really bad president. There are three standards you usually judge a president by: 1.) Did he do all he could to keep us out of war? 2.) Did he bring the country together?, and 3.) Did he expand the economy?

    Nixon gets very poor grades on all three. What he and Kissinger did to Cambodia was a war crime of the first magnitude.

    • Zachary Smith
      November 3, 2017 at 00:54

      What he and Kissinger did to Cambodia was a war crime of the first magnitude.

      Nixon was, as you say, a terrible president. That’s why I nearly had a fit watching him being “rehabilitated” to the point of having him on a US postage stamp. I’m going experience all that again when Kissinger and George H. W. Bush kick the bucket. And as you probably know better than I, the latter’s worthless kid (the Codpiece Commander aka the Texas Torturer) is being similarly rehabilitated by the freaking Democrats!

      • evelync
        November 5, 2017 at 13:22

        I think that most of our presidents have no conscience or they bury their consciences so deeply under piles of lies that they excuse all their own wrongdoing taking refuge in a presidential club of denial.

        When they all get together dancing around and laughing while things are in a mess that they helped create – both here at home and away, it’s no wonder people roll their eyes at what goes on.

        Years ago I had the opportunity to ask Noam Chomsky whether all our president are psychopaths and if I recall his answer correctly it was something to the effect that they don’t start out that way but are somehow changed in/by Washington……

        I guess President Kennedy did not allow himself to be thoroughly indoctrinated……….
        just saying……..

        After we were “Trumped” in 2016, I’ve had the chance to meet and speak to a few lifelong conservative Republicans (I was a Bernie primary voter) and I found out that even though it’s not a topic of general discussion, people are horrified by the endless regime change wars.

        We’ve been kept arguing over mindless wedge issues while our endless regime change wars go on and on making the country and the world less safe while violating our own treaties against torture and our lip service to human rights and our better judgment which might pay closer attention to possible unintended consequences and blow back….
        I think this concern is widespread among Americans but not discussed in the MSM.

        Bernie himself recently spoke at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri on foreign policy September 1, 2017 and he covered our long history of violent intervention and the inevitable blow back that we are now living with. He mentioned Iran/Mosadegh, Chile/Allende and others. He was applauded and cheered for this and the college seemed to welcome his progressive views, students and faculty alike.

        And yet the country wound up with a choice between a Trump and a Clinton, both with disturbing personality disorders, IMO, lacking character, courage, integrity…..

        And I believe that our institutions are failing us including some of our most “prestigious” universities.

  4. Mark Szczygiel
    November 2, 2017 at 22:47

    Great read Jim, Thanks. it seems that fear or desire drive most of our actions.

  5. November 2, 2017 at 15:46


    No, the files Gray burned were what he said they were. He glanced at them in advance, and later Dean and Ehrlichman and Hunt admitted that they were forged cables to implicate Kennedy in the Diem murder and also to dig up dirt on Ted Kennedy. Nixon was obsessed with the Kennedy, ever since he lost that close election to JFK in 1960. And he had also feared Ted Kennedy would run against him in 1972.

  6. mike k
    November 2, 2017 at 15:36

    The distortion and manipulation of history is a key element in societal brainwashing. Planting false narratives in the people’s minds comes in handy when you are getting support for an illegal war. Working to expose and undermine these false histories is an important part of freeing oneself and others from oppression. What goes on here at CN is the lifeblood of revolutionary change. If we lack truth and inner freedom, then we become slaves to false beliefs that we have never questioned.

  7. John Stroncheck
    November 2, 2017 at 13:26

    wow, great read! Great conclusion and I agree that Liam Nelsen could make any movie; however, for me, the chief protagonist was Hoover and that file Gray burned. I believe that the National Security matter was Nixon and Bush’s role in the murder of JFK.

  8. November 2, 2017 at 12:53

    Actually its even worse than what I described. In the Gray book, titled In Nixon’s Web, Ed Gray brings up documentary evidence from Woodward’s own archives proving the reporter used more than one source as Deep Throat. In other words, Deep Throat was really a composite, as many had felt. That fact had to be eliminated from Redford’s film for purposes of dramatic unity. And there was no way Landesman was going to deflate his central character in this film by revealing it. IMO, the Gray book is the best book on Watergate in the last decade. And a really fine antidote to this film. Gray was not the villain that the movie tries to portray him as. He was more like a victim, of both Felt and Nixon.

  9. mike k
    November 2, 2017 at 07:46

    I am linking below to a rare article that makes an important point with regard to what I said in my comment above: we really don’t know what the hell is going on in Washington DC.

    • mike k
      November 2, 2017 at 07:49

      Why did I call that article rare? Because the author does not pretend to give definitive “answers” to questions that no one can answer. We have such a tendency to want clarity, that if we can’t find it – then we invent it.

      • Bob Van Noy
        November 2, 2017 at 10:01

        mike k, fine link and a great comment about clarity. That is the bottom line, isn’t it? After so very many years of disinformation on subjects of deep importance, we are in total need of some clarity beyond fiction…

        • Bob Van Noy
          November 2, 2017 at 10:08

          By the way. Thank you James DiEugenio for your many years of accurate reporting…

    • john wilson
      November 2, 2017 at 12:08

      I read the article Mike, very interesting, thanks

  10. mike k
    November 2, 2017 at 07:02

    It all shows why there will never be a definitive history of anything. History is a mystery – a crime with many perpetrators……

    “History is a nightmare, from which I am trying to awake.” (James Joyce)

    • November 2, 2017 at 11:35

      “History is a nightmare, from which I am trying to awake.” (James Joyce)…a very appropriate quote, Mike!

  11. elmerfudzie
    November 2, 2017 at 06:55

    A. J. Woolston-Smith was a British National and New York Private detective who predicted the Watergate Break-in. I quote him: Listen, mate,” he says in his New Zealand accent, “after Watergate there were a whole slew of stories around. I never heard such twaddle.” Three months prior to Watergate, he warned the Democratic National Committee about the plan to bug their offices. It has been suggested that the DNC bugging was deliberately bungled to ruin Richard Nixon. William Haddad, a newspaper publisher and he also held a position with New York state assembly’s office of legislative oversight and analysis said that Smith was the very best in his field, could get the goods on just about any corporation within 24 hours. On March 23, 1972, Haddad wrote a letter to the DNC’s, O’Brien explaining that important Intel has crossed his desk concerning the strong likelihood that the GOP acquired very sophisticated surveillance techniques. Further, that Smith learned (through his Intel contacts) that James McCord purchased a state of the art scanner for monitoring bugs. John Stewart, the DNC communications director, decided to meet with Smith and Haddad, who in turn tipped Jack Anderson too but no one in Washington seemed to believe any of it because the facts were obtained by covert means and by definition deemed untrustworthy (as to verifiable sources). Noteworthy, was Smith’s partnership with a security consulting firm, Science Security Associates NYC and his detective work that uncovered, as a private eye for the New York state assembly, facts and documentation on the pollution of Love Canal, and uncovered misuse of funds by executives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 2, 2017 at 10:06

      Yes elmerfudzie like everything else in American politics the official statement is based upon the ‘cover story’. Whether we are to believe in a ‘single bullet theory’ or like with Watergate we are told it was a ‘botched burglary’ that brought the Watergate plumbers to be discovered, it doesn’t seem to matter, because somewhere along the line investigative reporters do a fantastic job of debunking the ‘cover story’, and then it’s time for the average citizen to go to work, or for them to go look for work, is better put. I guess one could just go about their way, and basically just go on to continue ignoring all of the lies and nonsense, but then for some the truth is all we require, in order for a concerned citizen to appraise the politicial landscape, and then go from there. After a lifetime of listening to these sorry liars I have come to trust no official story put forth by the government. It’s all one big lie.

      • elmerfudzie
        November 2, 2017 at 12:05

        Joe Tedesky- Yes, when a sitting President (Nixon) could not get access to the Kennedy files at the CIA, I knew at once who’s side to be on. The East German’s will forever have one leg up on so-called American Democracy, when, following the collapse of the CCCP the Stasi files were opened and released. You can rest assure that even if such a governmental collapse occurred in the USA , the CIA would incinerate every stitch of evidence in “vault 7” and anything else that might remotely point to their autocratic masters, The Rockefeller Boys. President Truman publicly admitted that creating the CIA was a big mistake and JFK also openly said he’d dismantle it. Over the years I’ve witnessed the CIA’s every maneuver to obstruct the democratic process via the FOI Act and their repeated and dubious distinction, for winning the Rosemary Award(s), blocking information we are, as American citizens at large, entitled to. For example; the ongoing FOIA’s to obtain those documents pertaining to George Joannides. They can redact, obfuscate or delay all they want as an agency-not one single American will ever forgive their dark op’s and the murder of the Kennedy’s. We can assume or rather conclude, certainly by now, that the total revelation of all their shenanigans and political assassinations would cause an insurrection if not a down -right -out right, revolution! Shove your damn files, who needs them!

        • Joe Tedesky
          November 2, 2017 at 13:11

          Hey elmerfudzie I know what you talking about. It is for the reasons you mentioned that I kind of prepared myself for this eventual disappointment, and I’m quite satisfied after reading tons of articles, and books, on the JFK assassination that I feel I have a handle on the truth of what really went down that day in Dealey Plaza. Yes, of course my views end up earning me a tinfoiled hat, but I don’t care, because the ones believing the cock and bull official Warren Report are the very people who are the ones wearing all the tinfoil, and more as they laugh at me. Always a pleasure my man, stay well elmerfudzie. Joe

      • Joe Wallace
        November 2, 2017 at 19:58

        Joe Tedesky:

        “After a lifetime of listening to these sorry liars I have come to trust no official story put forth by the government. It’s all one big lie.”

        Reminds me of what Otto von Bismarck is reputed to have said, though it has been attributed to a number of sources: “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”

        • Joe Tedesky
          November 3, 2017 at 08:09

          I like Bismarck quotes, as your link describes Bismarck left us with plenty of notable quotes to be reused as required.

          Thanks Joe. Joe

  12. Susan Sunflower
    November 2, 2017 at 06:31

    Anything that disrupts the “great man” or “dynamic duo” narrative is a good thing … Too much American mythology is all about “flawed but essentially good” individuals, triumphing against all odds (and their editors or some unbeliever) … it creates oddly damaging expectations for those contemplating or actually attempting to “make a difference” . Woodward and Bernstein worked hard and were excellently positioned to be lauded and rewarded. Others, not so much. The dynamic duo mythology has reigned long enough, we’re ready for a more complex narrative that credits other players.

    • Bob Van Noy
      November 2, 2017 at 09:47

      Susan Sunflower, that is an excellent observation. Thanks for that. I have learned to be a skeptic because I realized that I totally “buy in” to the, as you say, great man or dynamic duo scenario. Years of Propaganda will render a person in that way. You’re quite right about a more complex narrative; but can I t be the Truth?

      • Susan Sunflower
        November 2, 2017 at 10:04

        It wasn’t until I had watched the movie “Gandhi” several times that I realized I had no idea how and why Gandhi and nonviolence had succeeded in moving India towards freedom … the depicted Amritsar massacre was certainly a game changer that no movement would “hope” for. (and I knew that the American civil rights movement suffered a great deal of violence that most Americans are blissfully but dangerously unaware of). (see also South Africa)

        Last week there was an article proclaiming William Barber something close to the New MLK … but I’m not sure how much consensus there is outside in the “real world” of Los Angeles, Chicago, or New Orleans … but it’s pretty common to see people claiming we (or “they”) need a new MLK / Gandhi or Mandela or a new Dr. Spock/authority figure or maybe some new Berrigan Brothers analog … y’know … as if “the party can’t begin” until they arrive. Don’t get me wrong, I like Barber … I wish he exerted more influence … I wish the clergy were front and center on human rights, civil rights and humanist issues … but some magazine saying it don’t make it so …

        • Bob Van Noy
          November 2, 2017 at 10:12

          Thank you Susan Sunflower. I’m going to look at Gandhi again with your comment in mind. Are you aware of the Gandhi/Tolstoy communications?

          • Bob Van Noy
            November 2, 2017 at 10:18
          • Susan Sunflower
            November 2, 2017 at 10:33

            The movie gives a lot of credit to the Indian National Congress … but doesn’t explain well how they organized such effective consumer boycotts (salt, imported cloth) and public demonstrations (ie “politics”) … with Gandhi veering into holy cult-of-personality territory… Great movie, inspiring, and even — I will admit — better than most in including some of the in-fighting and negotiations between various Indian political organizations

            I’ll have to look up Gandhi/Tolstoy … I ended up reading “Freedom at Midnight”, 1975, a popular history book on the “independence” process and the bloody debacle that resulted from partitioning India/Pakistan. … some of which — on this anniversary of Balfour — particularly Kashmir, are still active volcanoes of contention .

        • Zachary Smith
          November 3, 2017 at 00:42

          I’ve never seen the movie Gandhi, nor do I know much about the man. From what little I’ve read, non-violence was a strategy, as was his outlandish manner of dressing. I believe Gandhi recognized that India would be badly hurt in a war of rebellion, and instead relied on gaining world sympathy with the unspoken threat of armed rebellion remaining in the background. After all, India had an awful lot of trained veterans from WW2. Gaining world sympathy was a safer path, and it worked. (It didn’t hurt that the UK was in terrible shape after WW2.) That was likely a guide for American Blacks when they started their own protests against the heirs of the Slaveocracy. Clean-cut youngsters being beaten by white goons in Police uniforms, or having huge police dogs attacking them; none of that went down very well in the North on the nightly news. Unlike the Indians, the Americans wouldn’t have stood a chance against the heavily armed Southern peckerheads in a fight. Picking a good strategy is important!

          • Susan Sunflower
            November 3, 2017 at 15:29

            Part of Gandhi’s “strategy” in his “outlandish dress” and life-style was that very public repudiation of his privilege … it mattered that he “walked the walk” of the average low-caste Indian, and associated with Untouchables … I think you’re mistaken if you think that was merely theatrics … see also the real enough near-death hunger strikes …

            The man had many faults (as did MLK and others) but his vision and cause (and supporters) became a credible alternative … and a suggestion that a unified democratic India might follow independence … rather than returning to fiefdoms and virtual feudalism (see Afghanstan’s warlord traditions) — i.e. a post-freedom regime the British could “work with” and possibly even help manage … no armed revolution, a “civilized” transition.

            The burden of empire, simple return on investment, was becoming to great to ignore … Gandhi’s tactics and the British response removed the veil on this stellar example, jewel in the crown, colonialism being benign.

          • Susan Sunflower
            November 4, 2017 at 19:09

            There’s been a lot written about Gandhi’s influence on MLK back in his Crozer Theological Seminary days and also of Gandhi’s choice of nonviolence as a tactic.

            My opinion, over time, has been that it was a pragmatic choice in the face of an “enemy” who would just as soon (even happily) kill all of you … In fact, under Jim Crow, I’d guess than anything more than 2 or 3 black males walking together at a fast pace in a “white area’ would have been dangerously ‘living out loud’ …

            Similarly there were reasons MLK demanded that demonstrators wear their Sunday Best to appear well groomed (now — imho sadly — derided as “respectability politics”) … I remember the gasps and then pride/happiness when the black panthers showed up armed — not only with rifles for self-protection, but also demanding the guaranteed Second Amendment freedoms.

            There was a lot written about Socially Engaged Buddhism that I found instructive back in the 1980-90’s … discussing nonviolence, and keeping an open heart. Myanmar and Rohingyas is making something of a mockery of the unfortunate “superiority complex” that often afflicts at least Western Buddhism (imho)

    • November 2, 2017 at 11:32

      Susan,…thanks for your thoughtful reflections, illuminating as always. Reality is always more complex than the Hollywood version as this fascinating article implies but it serves as a great springboard for discussion.

    • evelync
      November 4, 2017 at 13:57

      Thanks, from me too, Susan Sunflower for your very thoughtful analysis, reminding us to hang back instead of falling right in with the “mythology” “ideology” “knee jerk” narratives that distort our own perceptions before we have a chance to reach our own conclusions.

      You remind me of the discussion a few months back (available on line) from the University of Arizona with Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden via video who pointed out that “privacy” is important not because we may have nothing to hide (from the authorities) but because our thoughts are generally not fully formed. And if TPTB are monitoring our emails and our conversations, we might unconsciously self censor instead of giving ourselves a chance to reach our own conclusions.

      RE: the Woodward Bernstein team – back when they were the “knights in shining armor”, exposing the dark underbelly of the corrupt and dangerous Nixon Whitehouse, I “assumed” at the time that they were extraordinary human beings looking out for the public good and trustworthy. But over the last few decades whenever they’ve appeared on various news talk shows they each sound like uninteresting, quite ordinary, political hacks for their own political parties/propaganda – Woodward obviously leaning Republican, Bernstein obviously leaning Democratic. It was shocking at first and I was disappointed in myself and the media.

      Thanks, again!!!!

  13. john wilson
    November 2, 2017 at 05:54

    What this piece really tells us (as if we didn’t already know), is that American politics is full of dirty men in suits who spend their entire lives manipulating the system for their own benefit. They are like starving rats who will eat each other to survive if need be. One thing’s for sure, there is total unity among these vultures that the public are fair game to be screwed at every possible opportunity. corruption at all levels is the very heart beat of government and the MSM acts as arteries to ensure the blood of these creatures reaches the people who lap it up like Dracula’s brides. Decency, fairness vision and dedication to the welfare of the people is what politicians should be about, but now I’m just being silly……

    • mike k
      November 2, 2017 at 06:57

      I like your imagery of our “elites” John. Rats indeed. The scum rises to the top.

  14. Hollywood Mark
    November 2, 2017 at 03:57

    Landesman is a CIA-asset. He was a CIA-asset as a journalist at the NY Times where every story he wrote ended with the foreign subject being arrested. His fraudulent articles finally caught up with him (read his articles about sex trafficking into America). After being run out of NY he ended up in Hollywood where he had an instant snap your fingers career as a writer-director rewriting history as we know it. Two CIA consultants worked alongside him on “Parkland” and most likely, the others.

  15. November 1, 2017 at 23:04

    Woodward was a schmuck. Also, don’t forget, he was a Looie in the Navy, specifically naval intelligence.

    • Susan Sunflower
      November 1, 2017 at 23:23

      Woodward has been considered likely CIA-compromised for as long as I can remember … even if Bernstein wrote the often cited “definitive essay” (

      Neither was some naif wet-behind-the-ears idealistic do-gooder … Was Woodward a more believable hero because he was played by Redford, WASP, blond, blue-eyed” people like us” — last seen 1976 (Oscar nominated) playing Gatsby to Daisy (3 days of the Condor and Waldo pepper in the interim) — while Bernstein was short, less attractive, very Jewish, Dustin Hoffman, last seen (Oscar nominated) (8 respectable movies in the interim, including Lenny) playing Ratzo Rizzo?

      The “audience” knows its cues … I remember a decade ago having to explain that Elizabeth Bennett (Keira Knightly) was not the great beauty of her family … that — as written by Jane Austen, her own self — was Jane ( Rosamund Pike) — no contest, not up fo discussion … Jane was the local Mona Lisa most beautiful … IYKWIM

      Redford would alway emerge untainted, Hoffman would always look 15 minutes away from really needing a shave and a shower.

      • November 2, 2017 at 10:18

        Well put!

      • Zachary Smith
        November 3, 2017 at 00:22

        Was Woodward a more believable hero because he was played by Redford, WASP, blond, blue-eyed” people like us”…

        Unfortunately casting matters – a lot! Look at how well it worked using handsome Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan, a fellow engaged in the big land theft from the Palestinians. Of course, the way they were portrayed in the movie Exodus, the subhuman scum didn’t deserve to spend another second squatting on the land belonging to God’s Favorite People.

        It took me years to break away from my own “induced” devotion to that crappy little nation filed with murderers and thieves. Not a surprise, for the actual criminals were always portrayed as heroic victims by every source of information I had at the time.

  16. Susan Sunflower
    November 1, 2017 at 21:56

    fwiw, I’m going to positively assume that all sorts of responsible people are preparing essays wrt to the rather impressive NYC truck terrorism attack and the almost unprecented “captured alive” (and therefore due to for “the system worked’ prosecution) perpetrator … even as Trump reliably and shallowly, cluelessly, disgraces himself and talks about sending this “bad guy” to Gitmo …

    (I’ve read some essays to today that “hint” that the proper course is one of destroying Pence (as Agnew was disgraced) *before* Trump is forced to resign… Who would — like Gerry Ford — replace the disgraced Pence in this modern historical “reenactment”? What “sane” republican might be leveraged into replacing Pence? Kasich? Jeb Bush? … IMHO, this is worthy of consideration)

  17. Susan Sunflower
    November 1, 2017 at 20:48

    Thanks for the heads-up. Seems that Redford, like Oliver Stone, has a lot to answer for in shaping/re-shaping American history along some white hats/black hats easily digestible “the system worked” (at least for maintaining the status quo) formula … One of my main memories of the JFK assasination was my teachers and theTeeVee marveling that “only in America’ could such a smooth transition of power in the wake of assasination be possible … I was 10 and baffled … wasn’t that why there was a vice president and an line of succession?? But the “grown-ups” vast relief that the transition was achieved “seemlessly” because “the system worked!” has never left me.

    While Nixon didn’t “get away with it” … he did walk away “intact” by most measures, with a loyal band of sympathizers eager to prevent him becoming some Victor Hugo silenced and ostracized character … Resignation 1974, Nixon/Frost blockbuster 1977.

    (Death prevented so many of our “enemies” Saddam, Gadaffi, Allende, and others from similarly narrating and defending their own version of the history in which their role was integral.)

    Sounds like worthy of a well-prepared for weekend binge with the relevant (library) books at the ready … I’m still working diligently on WWI, to be followed by Judt’s PostWar … it may be a few years down the line.

    When’s the Iran Contra movie due?

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