So the New York Times must feel like the collective fifth Beatle in the annals of journalistic and American History.
According to an ex-reporter for the New York Times it was he, and not the renowned and prestigious Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstien of the Washington Post who heard that there was administration and White House connections to the infamous June 16, 1972 burglary at Democratic National Committee headquarters and the subsequent cover-up that would become known as the Watergate scandal, that touched off a constitutional crisis, provoked a cover-up at the highest level of government, rattled the confidence of America in its government to its core, and ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard M Nixon in 1974.
Since breaking the story and connecting the various clues and players involved with “Deep throat” perhaps the most famous anonymous source in the history of journalism ( by the way Deep Throat’s identity was revealed in 2005 to be W. Mark Felt a Deputy Director of the FBI); both reporters have built solid careers in journalism, becoming celebrities of sorts. They both continue in journalism and have written a potpourri of books on current affairs, events and figures at the center of power in DC, and other subjects.
Here is the money quote from the New York Times Story on the matter. If this is true these words must manifest them in as a source of regret in the minds of Smith, the editor of the Times then, and the institution as a whole.
Former colleagues he interviewed said they never knew of the material, he said, leading him to guess that the fact that it came to nothing “was probably my fault.”
If his and Mr. Smith’s accounts are correct, The Times missed a chance to get the jump on the greatest story in a generation.
Yeah, alot of nostalgia for the future, wondering what could have been. It could have been Robert Smith and not Woodward and Bernstien who got the book deals, awards, and occasional television appearances; not to mention hit movie based on uncovering Watergate.
The Watergate break-in eventually forced a presidential resignation and turned two Washington Post reporters into pop-culture heroes. But almost 37 years after the break-in, two former New York Times journalists have stepped forward to say that The Times had the scandal nearly in its grasp before The Post did — and let it slip.
Robert M. Smith, a former Times reporter, says that two months after the burglary, over lunch at a Washington restaurant, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, L. Patrick Gray, disclosed explosive aspects of the case, including the culpability of the former attorney general, John Mitchell, and hinted at White House involvement.
Mr. Smith rushed back to The Times’s bureau in Washington to repeat the story to Robert H. Phelps, an editor there, who took notes and tape-recorded the conversation, according to both men. But then Mr. Smith had to hand off the story — he had quit The Times and was leaving town the next day to attend Yale Law School.
Mr. Smith kept the events to himself for more than three decades, but decided to go public after learning that Mr. Phelps planned to include it in his memoir.
According to the reporting of this, then Acting FBI Director L Patrick Gray revealed information about the illegal deeds of the Nixon administration and the burglary. Politico reports that Gray’s son also adds that his father met with a variety of reporters about the scandal. This sounds like Gray was eager to divulge this information if true, and maybe it was the FBI as an institution and not one rogue agent, acrimonious over not getting promoted to FBI Director following the death of J Edgar Hoover, and thus doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.