By Chris Daly
Disclaimer: I have not read the new biography of Ben Bradlee by Jeff Himmelman, called Yours in Truth. I am merely passing on a review, by Jack Shafer.
Shafer, who is hardly a sentimentalist, makes an important point midway through the review about the Woodward&Bernstein’s book All The President’s Men, which is their version of their Watergate reporting.
Here is the take-away from Shafer’s recent piece for Reuters:
Say what you will about Woodward and his reportorial techniques—and many journalists and scholars have weighed in—All the President’s Men has withstood rigorous scrutiny over the past four decades. Entire books have been dedicated to its examination. While its treatment of Watergate is not complete or perfect, the book is a powerful document of the investigation.
One of the more appealing aspects of All the President’s Men is the authors’ willingness to portray themselves in a less-than-flattering light. Bernstein is shown trampling ethics and possibly breaking the law by asking an employee at a credit card company, and another at a telephone company, to lift records. Woodward repeatedly expands his agreement with Deep Throat, phoning him after promising to stay away from the phone and quoting him anonymously in the paper after vowing never to do so. And by quoting Deep Throat at length, All the President’s Men violates the sourcing arrangement completely.
It needs to be said: after more than three decades, no jealous journalist (or bitter conservative) has poked any serious holes in ATPM or done anything like a knock-down. The story stands.