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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Deep Nostalgia

There’s something sad and quaint about the massive coverage the Washington Post is giving to the revelation that an FBI official named Mark Felt was the legendary Deep Throat: the primary source for the Post’s own Woodward-Bernstein revelations about the Watergate scandal. It’s kind of sad because WaPo is having to acknowledge being scooped on this story by Vanity Fair, which must really hurt. The Post’s coverage of Watergate, after all, is what basically established it as a national Newspaper of Record right up there with the New York Times.The coverage is quaint because it serves as a reminder of a very different era of political journalism, and of journalism generally. Unless you are old enough to really remember Watergate, you might have trouble understanding the extent to which this one story dominated newspapers and network news for months and months on end. Nowdays the only story that can approach this kind of media obsession is a celebrity trial (or, following the American Idol template, a trial of “ordinary” people who play culturally stereotypical roles). The only political story out there now with the potential to morph into something vaguely approaching Watergate is the Casino Shakedown Scandal, which for sheer drama, irony, and symbolic resonance is actually a lot more interesting than Watergate itself. And again, it’s the Post (with recent assists from the Boston Globe and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that’s putting the story together, apparently without any assistance from a Deep Throat. Maybe lightning will strike twice for the Post, but more likely, the Deep Throat revelation is the last news from the last truly dominant political story of our times.

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