Putting Deep Throat in perspective

Leading media lights Pat Buchanan and Rush Limbaugh explain that Nixon's enemies were responsible for losing the Vietnam War, and for genocide in Cambodia.

Published June 2, 2005 6:56PM (EDT)

Some are feeling rather wistful about Mark Felt's unveiling this week.

"What's gone is the last best secret, wrested from the grip of the select few who'd vowed to keep it," writes the Washington Post's Hank Stuever. Gone, he says, is the idea "that reporters (and their background sources) could save the world, and that trust was still trust, and truth was still true. People now go to parking garages to get their cars."

These are different times, indeed. "Had he lived in this era," Stuever continues, "Deep Throat might not have lasted long. He'd be blogged to bits. He'd be Drudged, smudged, Romenesko'd. People would disprove him with their own Deep Throats. His identity would be discovered within a news cycle or two, spun around, and he'd be left holding a book contract."

Others have waxed far more serious about the revelation of Deep Throat's identity. Even "deadly serious," as in the case of Pat Buchanan. On Tuesday, the one-time Nixon advisor took the opportunity to clarify why the U.S. really lost the Vietnam War, and who the most odious political operatives of the day were: "There's something deadly serious here," Buchanan said on MSNBC's "Harball" with Chris Matthews. "People that brought down Nixon also resulted in the fall of South Vietnam, the death of hundreds of thousands of people. ... Nixon was brought down by people who were a hell of a lot worse than he was."

Buchanan got some solid backup from fellow history wiz Rush Limbaugh, who added that Woodward, Bernstein, Felt and company were also responsible for the genocide in Cambodia that left approximately 1.7 million dead. "Had they not brought down Nixon, we wouldn't have lost Vietnam," Limbaugh affirmed during his Wednesday broadcast. "Had [they] not brought down Nixon, the Khmer Rouge would not have come to power and murdered two million people in a full-fledged genocide."

With guys like these holding forth on the nation's most popular cable news and talk radio outlets, it's easy to see why Steuver is longing for the days when "trust" and "truth" were not antonyms of "national media."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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