Ice Tea with History

November 21, 2008


A reunion of history sipping ice tea and savoring the memories.

Journalism became a celebrity job in the mid 1970s, surging upward an already-emerging elite, near-aristocratic class of news people, from the copy desk, reporters, editors, to the executive suites, and this mechanism of modern media received its biggest boost from a “two-bit burglary.”

(Illustration found here).

A special occasion.
From the Santa Rosa, CA local newspaper the Press Democrat:

  • Iced tea accompanied a historic moment in Santa Rosa this past weekend when famed Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein came by to see and thank their secret source, 95-year-old Mark “Deep Throat” Felt.
    The two-hour visit at Felt’s home was an especially big deal to Bernstein.
    He had never before met Felt, the FBI’s former No. 2 man and one-time heir apparent to J. Edgar Hoover.
    Back in the early 1970s, when Felt furtively and bravely helped guide two young Washington Post reporters onto a trail of corruption that led to Richard Nixon’s White House, it was always Woodward who rendezvoused in the shadows with his highly placed source.
    For Joan Felt, who lives with her father and his attendant, Yara Tikoilakeba, in a house off Guerneville and Marlow roads, it was potent and enthralling to sit in her own living room with her dad and the storied Woodward-Bernstein.
    “They were just so gracious and so loving,” Joan said. “They really thanked Dad for his contributions.”

Felt’s memory is not so good nowadays.

  • Woodward told reporters afterward that the visit with Felt “was like a family reunion. He’s 95. He’s full of dignity and grace. He doesn’t have a memory, really. But there was a connection we made.”
    Bernstein said it was quite clear to him that Mark Felt “had moments of clarity.
    “He recognized some things,” he said. “It was a private visit — a closing of the circle. We are both very glad we did it. It was evident he was glad.”

The ‘storied Woodward-Bernstein‘ changed the face of journalism forever as their own personal stars rose high over the established firmament.
Of course, just about everyone knows of the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Watergate complex in DC, a small, insignificant event at the time — the New York Times ran its story on page 30 — but the stalwart Washington Post reporters dogged the information to its conclusion, which screamed that the media can indeed upset the cart of government.
The story wasn’t hurt by the culture-event of the mid-70s, the public goings-on at the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities — the Watergate hearings — where the drama of Dick Nixon’s crowd played itself out before the world.

And the storied Bernstein and Woodward?
The Washington Post snagged a Pulitzer Prize, the boys quickly banged-out All the President’s Men, detailing how the Post stories came about and the rest is media history.
Two years after the book came the movie with Bob Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and the rocket was launched.
Many young reporters all over America began to fancy themselves as Hoffman playing Bernstein — chain-smoking, intense, digging for the journalistic nuggets, which could lead to riches.

Woodward stayed at the Post and for the next 30 years cranked out a number of tomes on all kinds of subjects and people, a list is available here and has grown into a kind of media-establishment guy.
Bernstein, meanwhile, hit the road running.
He partied hardy, dating the likes of Bianca Jagger, Martha Stewart and Elizabeth Taylor (according to Wikipedia) and even arrested for drunk driving, and became the subject of an ex-wife’s Heartburn.
Nowadays, he’s an editor at Vanity Fair. Bernstein left the Post in 1977, and worked for ABC News, where he broke the story of America’s secret backing of the Afghan Mujahadeen.
He has also written for Time, Newsweek, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, among many others.

Both Bernstein and Woodward have lived lives they could not have imagined in early spring 1972.
And what about the above mentioned Mr. Felt, who remained cloaked only in the cloak of “Deep Throat” for three decades and was known only as the voice of actor Hal Holbrook?
A whistleblower of the century that propelled the young Post reporters and journalism in general into the realm of knighthood is 95-years-old, a telling sign for anybody.
Without Felt there would be no Watergate, no Nixon resignation and no celebrity journalism.

Ice tea for history.

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