Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Following up on the earlier post, can anyone send me some particularly rich and egregious examples of chat-meisters on the various shows getting crooks and felons like Colson, Liddy et al. to dump on Mark Felt without pressing them on their own crimes?

Now TPM Reader RW gets into the act about Chuck Colson ...


Colson had the ^#$%* to say this in the Post’s article this morning:

"There were times when I should have blown the whistle, so I understand his feelings. But I cannot approve of his methods."

Blow the whistle on what? Himself? Colson tries to make it seem like he was tortured about blowing the whistle on others, while engaging in no real wrongdoing himself. What a liar. He’s never really lived up to his crimes, other than saying he “was involved in Watergate.” Time for us to press this fool to come clean.


Makes me think of when the lion shall lie down with the <$NoAd$> lamb. Only in the DC version of the end time, which I guess we're now in, the whistle-blowers and truth-tellers will be forced to lay down with the crooks they turned in. And judged as equally worthy.

TPM Reader LG chimes in on Mark Felt, et al.

Josh: Is there anything more despicable than allowing the likes of Chuck Colson and G. Gordon Liddy, and even Pat Buchanan (although he was never implicated in Watergate) to go on TV and call Mark Felt a bum and a disgrace. That Matthews and others have, with either little or no objection to Colson and Liddy’s slander, is outrageous. Mark Felt may or may not be a genuine hero, but what he did was honorable and took courage – and he is certainly not a bum like his accusers.

This hadn't occured to me. Or rather I hadn't realized it because I barely watch any political TV anymore. But if <$Ad$> this is the case, it really is outrageous.

Nixon was a crook, as were most of his cronies. And Felt was a law man who ended up getting that all busted. As I note below, Felt's motives may not be black and white. But it's hard for me to see where any of these jokers gets off passing judgment on him.

I thought Chuck Colson's whole redemption shtick made at least some pro forma nod toward conceding that his Watergate era criminality maybe wasn't such a great thing after all. I guess not.

As for Gordon Liddy, he has, I guess, been accepted back into polite society, of a sort, for a mix of his character (and I'd say I mean that in the descriptive rather than than evaluative sense), his sense of humor and the undeniable fact that he never tried to make excuses for what he did. Took his lumps, etc.

Having said that, he's a crook, a bit nutty, and rightly did time for his crimes not only of the ordinary sort but actually against the constitution itself.

I guess these points don't cut much with DC's chatterati.

I'm not quite sure what to think <$NoAd$>of the fact that in its nostalgic flood-the-zone coverage the Deep Throat-Mark Felt story, the Washington Post has set up a special Deep Throat Revealed blog.

That said, I was fascinated to be reminded, in this post from last night, that even though Felt's identity remained secret for some three decades, H.R. Haldeman had Felt pegged from the start.

They republish this excerpt from one of the Nixon tapes ...

Haldeman: We know what's left, and we know who leaked it.

Nixon: Somebody in the FBI?

Haldeman: Yes, sir. Mark Felt. You can't say anything about this because it will screw up our source and there's a real concern. Mitchell is the only one who knows about this and he feels strongly that we better not do anything...

As Tim Noah points out in Slate, Felt has long been the pick of choice for what Tim calls "the better class of Deep Throat sleuth—[the] discriminating, Campari-sipping sophisticates."

Words of wisdom from TPM Reader RC ...

When pegging our Republican reps on their SS stances, perhaps insisting they give us their "Up or Down Vote" might be blissfully ironic?

I say, run with it.

I got a note today reminding me how many Republican senators, up for reelection in 2006, have records of either supporting or actually voting for Social Security privatization.

Needless to say, in most cases, they're running for cover now, looking for various outs and mealymouthed responses to get them off the hook for taking any position at all -- some good examples include Sens. Burns (R) of Montana and Talent (R) of Missouri. And it applies even more to the some of Republicans running against incumbent Dems or for open seats.

Obviously, this makes sense politically for Democrats. It'll keep a number of these guys politically off-balance and complicate their public connections to the sitting president. Should they be reelected it will also help lock them into a good position, should they come out against privatization on the hustings this year or next.

But accountability and clarity on the big public issues of the day is always good on substance too. No apologies required. And it simply doesn't cut it for anyone on the ballot next year not to have a straightforward position on whether or not they support Social Security.

Small changes in taxes or benefits are one thing. But, do you support Social Security or do you want to replace some or all of it with private accounts? No one should slide through without giving voters a straight-up answer to that question.

If you have examples of this -- cases where someone on the ballot next year (House or Senate) say they have no definite position on this issue, but has previous votes or positions which say otherwise -- I'd appreciate it if you can mention them at the Elections 2006 discussion table over at TPMCafe. If you haven't visited yet, here's a brief note about how to do it.

I wanted to write about this last week. And some folks from on the scene had actually sent me some photographs to post. But I was so busy with the site launch that I didn't manage to get around to it. But the folks down in Louisiana really know how to defend Social Security and have fun at the same time.

Reps. Alexander, Boustany and McCrery are all going along trying to avoid commenting, taking any clear position on, or even acknowledging the 800 pound gorilla in the political room: Social Security and President Bush's plans to privatize it.

So the Social Security partisans in the area have come up with, well, I guess it's not actually an 800 pound gorilla. But it is a 28 foot inflatable gorilla. (See a full-sized picture here.) And they're taking him to stand in front of each congressman's office to drive home the point of their conspicuous silence on the great issue of the day.

Here, for instance, is the lede from today's Baton Rouge Advocate (the article also has a cool picture of the Social Security gorilla ...

A 28-foot gorilla has begun stalking some of Louisiana's Republican congressman, starting Tuesday by menacing U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany Jr.'s office in Lafayette's federal courthouse.

While it wasn't granting interviews, the bright red inflated gorilla did carry a sign stating its demand: "Don't monkey around with my Social Security. Say no to $131,458 benefit cut."

We're going to try to find out just who came up with this idea. Because they definitely deserve one of our TPM Privatize This! T-Shirts.

Late Update: Here's another article on all the monkey business.

The revelation of the identity of Deep Throat should throw in sharp relief again the simple truth that the most important stories almost always rely on sources who -- precisely because they are in a position to know key details -- cannot reveal their identity to the public.

Without anonymous sources, there would be little news, certainly no investigative journalism. And what passes as news would tend even more toward news shaped and packaged by powerful institutions and individuals.

The fact that we now know Deep Throat was Mark Felt, whose motivations were probably shaped as much by bureaucratic infighting between the FBI and the Nixon administration as they were by more high-minded goals, should serve to make another point. Most anonymous sources have mixed motives. Many of them have bad or at least petty motives -- backbiting, the desire to gossip or trade in information for advantage, revenge. It runs the gamut.

A good reporter, though, can take the fruit of that poison tree and make it sweet and nourishing by sifting through information to find what is valuable and newsworthy regardless of why it may have come to see the light of day.

I've been a bit distracted with other things today. But over the course of the day and out of the corner of my eye, I started to realize that the Deep Throat mystery was officially over. It's not just been reported. Or reasoned out, or claimed or triangulated. Late this afternoon, the Post itself even officially reported it, with Woodward and Ben Bradlee confirming that Mark Felt, then #2 at the FBI, was Deep Throat.

It's hard to say what significance it all has historically at this point, though it does shed some new light or at least deepens our understanding of the role the Nixon administration's antagonism with the FBI had in bringing Nixon down.

Whatever it means for history, it's the end to an iconic mystery -- one that for better and sometimes worse was at the heart of what was once the glamor of late 20th century journalism.