The Solomon Scandals
The D.C. newspaper novel, the media,the Washington area, tech and other surrealism: David Rothman at large
‘Scandals’ and the Deep Throat fuss

180px-All_the_President's_Men_book_1974The inspiration for The Solomon Scandals novel came in part from my real-life investigation of the late Sen. Abraham Ribicoff’s secret investment in a CIA-occupied building. But guess what? The research was mostly a bureaucratic exercise, a series of phone calls, face-to-face interviews, Freedom of Information letters, and other routine matters. No underground parking garages. No death threats, either. So I did what any other self-respecting novelist would do to rev up the suspense and drama: I invented.

Now some questions have arisen about a nonfiction Washington book about investigative journalism—none other than All the President’s Men (along with related writings and the Robert Redford movie). Did its authors spice up some minor things to make the story more dramatic?

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee is reported to have wondered some years ago about the details. His issues were not with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein‘s core reporting on Watergate, but rather about, say, the famous flower pot on an apartment balcony (said to have been used to alert Deep Throat about the need for meetings). Here’s a Post news story quoting Woodward and here’s Erik Wemple’s media blog on the matter. Bradlee’s current sentiments are: “I love Bob, and I love Jeff, and I trust them both, and let’s move on.”

Jeff Himmelman, the author of Yours in Truth: A Personal Portrait of Ben Bradlee, his new book quoting Bradlee on this controversy, helped write A Different Life, the memoir by Bradlee’s son Quinn.

I won’t take sides in this one—I don’t know enough from afar. Use a Deep Throat to find out? Good luck. My balcony is walled in, so the flowerpot system just wouldn’t work.

Update, May 14: After the New York Times published a piece helpful to Bob Woodward’s side, Jeff Himmelman today fired back in the Daily Beast. Via the Times, we learn that far from being an outsider, Hammelman attended the elite Sidwell Friends School and befriended Woodward’s daughter. Connections apparently played a role in his getting the job of Woodward’s assistant. I’ve been reading the Himmelman book, and it’s a lot more than just a “yard sale” on old Bradlee items.

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