Bradlee and Woodward Reflect on Watergate
Thirty years after the Watergate break-in, The Washington Post's Bob Woodward still won't identify Deep Throat - the mysterious source who exposed the widespread abuse of power and cover-up that led to the resignation of president Richard Nixon.
During a live Webcast on washingtonpost.com today, Woodward, now an assistant managing editor, and Benjamin C. Bradlee, now The Post's vice president at large, recalled their days covering the story and discussed the themes that continue to make the Watergate scandal an object of fascination.
In a new e-book published on Salon.com, John Dean, Nixon's White House counsel and a key witness, sparked renewed speculation this week about the identity of Deep Throat, the famous source who worked with Woodward and reporter Carl Bernstein.
Woodward didn't have much to say about Dean's book. "John Dean is like Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, chasing the white whale, Deep Throat," Woodward said.
Lisa Todorovich, executive producer of washingtonpost.com's Live Online section, passed along questions from people following the Webcast online, and in the audience at George Washington University. "Someone in the audience had a question: 'So who was Deep Throat?' - thank you - Let's talk about it. What can you tell us?"
"Nothing," replied Bradlee in is trademark gruff voice.
Woodward said not identifying Deep Throat is a matter of deeply held principle.
"It is a legitimate question, but we have to protect sources and I think that for thirty years we've kept our word. And it's important that we keep our word. It's important to future sources out there. Current sources know that this [is] first principle with us and we're not going to budge on it."
Woodward said that the protection of sources is a must in order to build confidence. Without the security of anonymity, he said, sources won´t be willing to expose wrongdoing.
"They can count on that," Woodward said. "They can take it to the bank. And if they can't take it to the bank, its much more difficult to build the essential relationship of trust."
Barry Cardin, a 19-year-old English major at GWU, said he was drawn to today's event in part because he once had a view of the Watergate building from his dormitory on Virginia Avenue. Thirty years ago, that building was the Howard Johnson hotel, where Alfred Baldwin -- a lookout for the Watergate burglars -- watched with binoculars from room 723 while five men sneaked into the Democratic National Committee offices the night of June 17, 1972.
"Living in Washington, D.C. -- the center of politics and everything -- it's a great opportunity to meet people that had a large part in our history," Cardin said.