Watergate demythologized: Lessons learned about the motives of Mark "Deep Threat" Felt. @washingtondecoded.



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Watergate demythologized: Lessons learned about the motives of Mark "Deep Threat" Felt. @washingtondecoded.


Pakula acted the part of the gently probing interviewer during the taped sessions—although Woodward and Bernstein rarely needed much prodding. At times things got testy.

During the last session, for example, the subject turned to the nitty-gritty of how Woodward and Bernstein wrote stories together. The book and the film depict this intimate relationship, after a rocky beginning, as a largely egoless and frictionless one, as evinced by the "Woodstein" moniker bestowed on them. Woodward, an outstanding reporter, had trouble with the standard, inverted-pyramid style of newspaper stories, particularly ledes and the crucial "nut grafs." Bernstein was by far the better writer, and Woodward was quick to recognize this. Soon all that mattered was the story, not who wrote it first or wrote what part. This was more or less the account in All the President's Men.

Bernstein: [I]f you're doing what you're supposed to do, [if] you [don't] saddle me with doing all of your shit work, I wouldn't be in this position in the first place.

Woodward: Fit to be tied.

Bernstein: If we got the damned story done on time we could go out and discuss it. Instead we ended up in—

Woodward: We had to make decisions at the last second—

Bernstein: And every time you do that you get your tongue up [editor Barry] Sussman's ass, or Bradlee's ass, or something. . . . And then Woodward will say, "Just think about the deep shit you were in before I started dealing with Bradlee."

Woodward: I don't think I ever said that.

Bernstein: Well, just think about how you get along with the others.

Woodward: Then you would start saying things like I complained about [the] deadline and not getting it done. And then you'd say, "Look, with the shit I have to work with!" And I'll say, "What's wrong?" And he'd say, "This isn't in English!"

Bernstein: It's always with these things—Woodward does a draft on a story and then he'll come over and accuse me of pushing [past] the deadline and not really changing the story. And I will, even though there might be only a few words changed sometimes. I think and know that it's 100 percent different. He doesn't write what he means.

Woodward: And I'll sit and say, you know, quite rightly, that "any third-rate rewrite man could rewrite the story in one-third the time, just as well."

Bernstein: Yeah, he'll say that. You always say that there's no difference between when you write it and I write it.

Woodward: But it shouldn't take eight hours, three or two hours to do eight paragraphs or ten paragraphs, when you have it all before you. Sometimes it will take you two hours—it will be these stacks of six-ply paper.

Bernstein: I have a thing about a very clean first take. . . . No typing errors.

[Woodward]: He's always anal-compulsive.

Bernstein: And then by the time the deadline is comin', you know, I'm in such a panic that, you know, it will be coming out of [Woodward's] typewriter a paragraph at a time, chicken scratches all over, and I'll be taking Woodward's copy and making Xs in it, trying to work with that. I don't know why I do it because by the time you're at the middle of the story, you're lucky if you can read the thing . . . I really think that the top of the story has to be very exact. It's also, it's the conclusions, and I put more stock in how you phrase conclusions . . . and [I] don't have quite as much confidence in the reader to reach the conclusion given the quotes down underneath.

Woodward: . . . I was just re-reading some of those stories . . . you do have a very . . . Some of those stories are very good because of the facts. . . . Because you will figure out a way.

Bernstein: I tell the significance, that's what I've a...

Jun 17, 04:48 AM
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