Media

How Journalism Was Done in The Good Old Days: With Payoffs

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Wash Post's Howard Kurtz has a long article on a new book dealing with his one-time boss, legendary newsman Jack Anderson:

There was a time in Washington when Jack Anderson was a hero, the columnist who kept unearthing Richard Nixon's dark secrets, a Pulitzer winner who revealed the administration's secret tilt toward Pakistan in its war against India.

But Anderson's reputation would have been shredded had anyone learned that he paid off the source who slipped him the classified documents on Pakistan. Here's how it went down: Anderson bought some undeveloped California land from Navy yeoman Charles Radford, using an old high school friend as a middleman to disguise the transaction. "It was really a payoff," Anderson acknowledged a few months before his death.

Anderson made the admission to author Mark Feldstein, an associate professor at George Washington University. When Feldstein worked as an Anderson intern in the 1970s, he says, "I looked up to him and admired him. He certainly had his warts, God knows. I certainly realized that his later career turned embarrassing. Any of us who worked for him knew the tactics he used were not the ones I teach in journalism school."

But, he says, "the blackmail and bribery came as a shock."

Feldstein's new book "Poisoning the Press"stunned me, another former Anderson reporter from that era, and may transform the muckraker's image as well. While detailing Nixon's utter obsession with Anderson—to the point that 16 CIA operatives once kept him under surveillance and Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy plotted to kill him—the author makes the case that each side employed equally ruthless methods against the other.

Oh to have been a journalist when G. Gordon Liddy was plotting to kill people rather than sell them gold!

Whole thing here.

Hat Tip: Alan Vanneman, world's greatest tipster.