On Monday the Times revealed that one of their reporters, Robert Smith, had learned of the Watergate break-in conspiracy before the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Smith shared the juicy info with his editor, Robert Phelps, but then he decided to go to law school and Phelps didn’t pursue the tip because, really, who would have any interest in that story anyway? Clearly the Times blew it. Still, though, their revelation last week might have implied, just a little bit, that the Washington Post is just not very special. Seriously, everyone had a high-level Watergate source back then. And the Times had it first. So ha.
Indeed, Woodward seems to have taken umbrage at the Times’ attempt to steal his thunder. “Watergate wasn’t about a tip,” he told Editor & Publisher. “It was about extensive reporting and getting information you can put in the paper. They decided not to do the reporting. We get this idea that this is about one story or one source or one tip, it is not.” In other words, that lazy bunch of slackers at the Times may have had a tip, but what they really needed was a Woodward.