updated 6/9/2005 2:30:49 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:30:49

Guest: Douglas Brinkley, Karen Tumulty, Richard Cohen, Ben Bradlee

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  He pushed Woodward and Bernstein as they unraveled Watergate, and, with them, kept the secret of Deep Throat for three decades.  Tonight “The Washington Post” editor who broke the Watergate story, Benjamin Bradlee. 

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.

The end of history arrived here in Washington this week.  After a third of a century, the city‘s biggest mystery was cracked.  We found out who leaked the goods on Richard Nixon. 

Here with me is the hard-charging boss of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the man who kept the heat on the two investigative reporters to get it right.  Ben Bradlee was executive editor of “The Washington Post” during Watergate.

Ben, thank you for coming on tonight. 


MATTHEWS:  It has been a hell of a week for you. 

BRADLEE:  It has.

MATTHEWS:  Well, it has.  I can tell.  And when it started, I wanted to know if you knew this was going to be the week that was going to blow the lid off the Deep Throat mystery. 

BRADLEE:  No, didn‘t have a clue.  Didn‘t have a clue.

Went to work Tuesday morning and there the fax machine was pouring out this thing from “Vanity Fair.”  Still haven‘t seen that magazine. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRADLEE:  And I knew that we were—had a nice day‘s work ahead of us and it was just great fun. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, many a night at a party, I‘ve come up to you and had said, did you hear Gergen just died?  Or did you hear that Patrick Gray just died?  And I‘m waiting to see your reaction.  Is it going to be the movement in the pupils of the eye that says, my God, Deep Throat is gone?

How many guys have done that to you over the years?

BRADLEE:  Oh, well, I get asked that pretty regularly, especially in my—and, stunningly, by the younger kids, who, if you...

MATTHEWS:  Do they know the background or do they just know there‘s a Deep Throat?

BRADLEE:  Yes.  They‘ve studied Watergate.  They know a lot about Watergate. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRADLEE:  It is incredible.  This, I think, is the beginning of the end of all of that. 


MATTHEWS:  You think this is going to be like the curse of the Bambino up in Boston, where, once you finally get the series, it is over?

BRADLEE:  But I think once—it is wrapped up now.  There‘s that—there‘s—there‘s no unfinished business. 

MATTHEWS:  Case closed.  Case closed. 

BRADLEE:  Case closed.

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the case and what it meant to you. 

You were out there on the firing line. 

And I guess this must really bother you, this stuff that has been going on the last couple days, this sort of moral equality in the way this story has been covered the last couple days.  I know because I‘ve watched your face on TV. 

Let me start with—in the bunker, ‘72 and ‘73.  Nixon is rolling toward a big reelection, what, 49 states. 


MATTHEWS:  He was going—he whomped—he whomped McGovern.  What that is all going on, what were you doing leading the charge for an investigation of a guy that is sure to win an election? 

BRADLEE:  Well, that didn‘t play much of a role for us. 

We really—once we, you know, so quickly after this story started, we knew we had a good story here.  We had traced money to the Committee to Reelect the President.  And there was crisp $100 bills all around.  And Maurice Stans was involved and finally the White House itself. 

So—so, it just kept getting better and better and better.  And for a while there, it didn‘t stop.  And we owned it.  We owned it.  Subsequently—and let‘s get that straight.  An awful lot of other papers and reporters did really good journalism.  But, from the beginning there, we had a run. 

MATTHEWS:  All these things were moving in time.  The FBI was doing the investigation, as you say, following the money right into the CREEP, or the headquarters of the president to get reelected. 


MATTHEWS:  The—the—the—the—what‘s his name?  Sirica was starting to squeeze the burglars. 

BRADLEE:  Yes, Sirica, big, important. 

MATTHEWS:  So, all these things were happening.  But, yet, nobody else seemed to be covering this story with the vigilance you guys were putting into it. 

BRADLEE:  Well, it was our story.  And—and you know out-of-town correspondents.  They can‘t find a police station in Washington.  And it was a police story for a while.  And then, of course, it got out of being a police story.  And...

MATTHEWS:  So, it was all on the blotter.  It was on the overnight...


BRADLEE:  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  Lesley Stahl was on the other night and she said she was sitting in the courtroom when the burglars were being arraigned, I guess.  And she said there was nobody else in there. 

BRADLEE:  Well, Bob Woodward was there. 

MATTHEWS:  Except him.



BRADLEE:  And...

MATTHEWS:  And they got together, actually, romantically after that, apparently.

BRADLEE:  Well, I...


MATTHEWS:  She was talking about that last night. 


MATTHEWS:  No, she‘s open.  You don‘t have to give it away.  She was talking about it.

BRADLEE:  I don‘t know...


MATTHEWS:  But Bob—why did you assign—why did you keep Woodward and Bernstein on that case? 

BRADLEE:  Because they were right.  I mean, if you—if you‘re—if you‘re bringing the bacon home day after day after day, and nobody else is breaking a story about it, what—what‘s the excuse?  You couldn‘t look them in the eye and say, you‘re off the story now. 

MATTHEWS:  When—you once told me this story about how Richard Nixon, president of the United States, called you, executive editor of “The Washington Post,” tried to warm you up one time.  Was that during that period or before that period?

BRADLEE:  Oh, it was before. 

MATTHEWS:  What was that like?

BRADLEE:  Well... 

MATTHEWS:  Tell that story. 

BRADLEE:  No, I mean, he just—somebody told him, you know, you ought to call up Bradlee and chat. 

And he called up one Saturday morning, which is a very informal place, “The Washington Post.”  And some copy boy came running in and said that the president of the United States wants to talk to you.  And I thought it was Buchwald or somebody like that, teasing.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, Art Buchwald, yes.

BRADLEE:  Yes, teasing me.

MATTHEWS:  It wasn‘t satire, though.  It was the real thing. 

BRADLEE:  It was the real thing. 

MATTHEWS:  And was it awkward, him on the phone with you? 

BRADLEE:  Well, he talked quite a lot.  And he talked about his days in—as—during the war in Washington.  What was he, OPA or—pricing tires. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, but he had—he had—he was actually out there a little bit.  He wasn‘t like you were, you know, piloting a destroyer. 


BRADLEE:  Not much saltwater.

MATTHEWS:  Well, he was doing supplies.  So, he was a supply officer. 

He was a Mr. Roberts kind of guy. 

BRADLEE:  Oh, no. 



MATTHEWS:  Well, what was that conversation like? 

BRADLEE:  Well, it was—you know, it was quite embarrassing for me, because I couldn‘t—I couldn‘t believe what he was doing.  I knew he was trying to, you know, hustle me, warm me up.

MATTHEWS:  Was he working off notes?

BRADLEE:  No, I don‘t think so. 


BRADLEE:  ... wouldn‘t talk about his career in the World War I or II or... 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  But, obviously, this charm offensive wasn‘t too successful. 


BRADLEE:  No.  And then—he called me the next Saturday.  And he started talking some more about it.  And I didn‘t get much—I didn‘t talk to him too much. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever say, what is the purpose of this call, Mr.


BRADLEE:  No.  No, I didn‘t.  I‘m too well-mannered for... 




Let me ask you about when it got tough.  When did you first get the sense that covering the Watergate story was going to be a real, a real risk?

BRADLEE:  Well...


MATTHEWS:  For your paper, for your publisher, for the whole enterprise, for your reporters? 

BRADLEE:  I began probably just before the election. 

We ran dry.  We just couldn‘t get a story.  And the—the—the thing that rescued us then was Walter Cronkite coming out with two consecutive nights of seven-minute spots on this thing, big deal.  That was the great white father blessing the story. 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  Were you surprised that it didn‘t seem to move the electorate much? 

BRADLEE:  It sure didn‘t.

MATTHEWS:  It had no impact. 

BRADLEE:  No, none. 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think the people heard about a scandal that...

BRADLEE:  Well, because they...

MATTHEWS:  ... may well have involved the president and may well have involved a burglary, a cover-up, all kinds of machinations?  The dirty trick stories, you were already running them at that time, the Segretti stuff. 

BRADLEE:  Well, I mean, I don‘t think many newspapers were covering—the AP wasn‘t covering it after the first week or two.  And I think that people who, out in the West, never saw about it.  I guess these stories were on “The Washington Post”-“L.A. Times” news service.  But it was a police story to them.

MATTHEWS:  It got a little rough in the rhetoric.  I mean, John Mitchell was former attorney general.  He‘s the head of the Committee to Reelect the President.


MATTHEWS:  He calls up and says somebody—you know, Katie Graham is going to her teat caught in the ringer over there.


MATTHEWS:  You know, pretty strong language.  Did that bother you? 

Did that scare you at all?



BRADLEE:  It wasn‘t my teat.


MATTHEWS:  It was the boss‘. 

BRADLEE:  It was the boss‘. 

Well, she made—you know, some guy made—some dentist made an absolutely beautiful little ringer.

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRADLEE:  And sent it to her.  And Katherine loved it and she wore it, hanging from her neck.  It was on a little necklace. 

MATTHEWS:  By the way...


BRADLEE:  And we told her—we told her she had to take it off. 


MATTHEWS:  Oh, really?


Well, let me ask you, when—when the story didn‘t affect the voters

·         and the people were pretty conservative at the time.  Nobody liked the long-hairs and all that stuff, the McGovern crowd.  Nixon gets reelected.

When did you sense that your coverage was going to lead to a big investigation by the Senate committee, the Ervin committee, the tapes were going to come out?  All that—that whole dynamic that started...


BRADLEE:  Not until really, until—well, we got a first smell of it when Barker asked at the—I guess it was at the arraignment, said he was working for the CIA.

MATTHEWS:  One of the—one of the—one of the—one of the burglars.

BRADLEE:  One of the burglars.  And then—in front of Sirica.  When it got to Sirica and Sirica—Sirica smelled...


MATTHEWS:  Wasn‘t that great, to have a judge like that?

BRADLEE:  Pay dirt, yes.

MATTHEWS:  To have a hanging judge? 

BRADLEE:  He had...


MATTHEWS:  He just reminds me of like a South Philly Italian guy, a real tough guy, not going to take any crap from these guys. 

BRADLEE:  Former fighter. 


BRADLEE:  Small man.


MATTHEWS:  So, you had some allies in this investigation. 


MATTHEWS:  You had the courts that wanted to get the truth.  You were trying to get the truth. 

The FBI—let‘s talk about Deep Throat here.  When did you first get the sense that Carl and Bob had a really good source?

BRADLEE:  Oh, right—right on, right—I mean, the first—certainly, the first few, I‘m going to say few weeks.  But—yes—by the end of the first 30 days, he—we knew it. 

And—and I didn‘t know who it was.  I didn‘t.  And then, funnily—

I don‘t think this could happen now.  But I never asked him.  I didn‘t ask.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, particularly...


MATTHEWS:  I remember with you in the movie, when Jason was playing you in the movie, Jason Robards, your buddy, your late buddy, he said, what do you got, some third-rate secretary with this information?  Who you got here?  Remember?

BRADLEE:  No, I don‘t...


MATTHEWS:  Well, in the movie, you...


MATTHEWS:  ... are asking, what rank of source do you have? 

BRADLEE:  And what did they say? 

MATTHEWS:  They said, it is pretty high up. 

BRADLEE:  He was pretty high up.  That‘s what I knew.  He was high up in the—actually, as I remember it, it was in the Justice Department.  They didn‘t say number two in the FBI, because, you know, I could have found that out looking up in a book. 

MATTHEWS:  You might have thought it was Clyde Tolan (sic) J. Edgar Hoover‘s body. 

BRADLEE:  Yes.  Oh.

MATTHEWS:  His roommate. 

BRADLEE:  Tolson.

MATTHEWS:  But was that—because the way...


BRADLEE:  But they were right.  That‘s the thing that you...


MATTHEWS:  And you knew they were right because it wasn‘t just the White House was dumping on the story, but the fact that you weren‘t—he never had to be corrected, this guy, this source. 

BRADLEE:  No.  There were—there were—and there were no denials. 

I mean, it was—it was the middle of the campaign.  So, Bob Dole would show up some night in Baltimore. 

MATTHEWS:  The head of the Republican Party. 

BRADLEE:  Yes, and—and, you know, cut us a new one. 


BRADLEE:  But—and same thing with Colson.  They would make speeches around.  But it was general.  It wasn‘t that they were wrong on such and such or they had the audacity.

MATTHEWS:  Colson came out right after—I remember right after the election, after they won a whomping victory and said, it is your turn.  You‘re going to get it now, basically. 

BRADLEE:  Yes.  

MATTHEWS:  Those guys were out to get you then.

BRADLEE:  Yes.  Well...

MATTHEWS:  They had the power. 


MATTHEWS:  What they didn‘t have was the power of the subpoena, which the Democratic-led Congress had, which hurt them in the end. 

BRADLEE:  Yes.  Yes. 

But—but they didn‘t—I mean, they bothered—they made my—those speeches were tough. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRADLEE:  They made my kids cry.  I mean, I would go home at night.  And I remember, one night, I went home and the whole family was crying, because the—one of them had been so tough on me.  And so...


MATTHEWS:  When you were in the war in World War II, and you‘d seen war. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘d seen the Japanese fleet coming at you. 


MATTHEWS:  You were not afraid of this, were you? 

BRADLEE:  I was—I was—I spent a lot of time being sure they were right. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you ever worry? 

BRADLEE:  Yes, of course I would worry. 

MATTHEWS:  Did you worry? 

BRADLEE:  Yes, I would worry. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let‘s talk about Deep Throat, this guy.  Did you ever doubt—not that it mattered entirely, but the thrust of your reporting didn‘t require that this guy be totally ethical or loyal to his boss. (ph) Obviously, he was—he was leaking. 

BRADLEE:  Of course he was leaking. 

MATTHEWS:  So, he obviously wasn‘t a correct civil servant.

BRADLEE:  That‘s not very strange in this town. 

MATTHEWS:  He wasn‘t being the—a perfect civil servant and loyal to his institution.


MATTHEWS:  When he was breaking the story to you. 

BRADLEE:  We are trained to examine the motive of people who talk to us.  Now, people—people don‘t talk without a reason in this town. 

MATTHEWS:  And you knew from the beginning he had an axe to grind. 

BRADLEE:  Of course he had an axe—he was—but I—I thought..

MATTHEWS:  What was his axe to grind?  He had been passed over for—for chief.

BRADLEE:  No.  I didn‘t know that. 

MATTHEWS:  You didn‘t know that.

BRADLEE:  And what I knew was that he thought there—there—that the—there was serious monkey business going on, that crimes were being committed.  And he was outraged by it. 

His trouble was that he didn‘t have anywhere else to go.  He couldn‘t go to L. Patrick Gray, who was his...

MATTHEWS:  The boss, the acting boss. 

BRADLEE:  Acting boss, because he was busy throwing documents over the bridge. 

MATTHEWS:  He was in the tent with the Nixon crowd.

BRADLEE:  He was in the tent.

He couldn‘t go to Mitchell because he was on his way to jail.  And where the hell could he go?  He couldn‘t go to the White House itself.  He couldn‘t go to Colson and those people. 


BRADLEE:  So, I think he made a hell of a choice. 

MATTHEWS:  I want to come back and talk to you about another kind of leaker, the kind of leaker that leaks to columnists to try, you know, out people undercover in the—in the CIA.

We‘ll be back with Ben Bradlee.

Then, beginning next week, HARDBALL celebrating its eight years on the air.  Among our guests, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the man who plays me on “Saturday Night Live,” Darrell Hammond.  Also, next week, we‘ll have a very special hour inside Opus Dei.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Everyone is called to do God‘s will, to be a saint in the middle of the world through their ordinary work and ordinary situations each day.  That‘s the key message.


MATTHEWS:  That‘s HARDBALL‘s eight anniversary week for the next eight days, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Coming up, Ben Bradlee, “The Washington Post” editor during Watergate, responds to the Nixon loyalists—when HARDBALL returns.



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Ben Bradlee. 

What are your rules all the years at “The Post” about protecting sources? 


BRADLEE:  Absolute.

MATTHEWS:  No questions asked?  Never went to a reporter and said, you‘re going to have to out this person or...

BRADLEE:  Publicly, no.  They had to tell—they often had to tell the editors, not just me.  But I—I—as I think back on that, I wonder why the hell I didn‘t.  I just wasn‘t worrying about that, because the—he was delivering such a big load every—and he was right. 


And if the guy had a number of motives, you only cared about the one motive, which was to tell the truth. 


MATTHEWS:  You didn‘t care whether he was mad at Nixon or he was mad. 

It doesn‘t matter to a journalist.

BRADLEE:  Yes.  A lot of the people in this town were mad at Nixon. 


MATTHEWS:  So, the rule is, the rule is, if somebody comes into your -

·         into your editor‘s office and says, I got the—and shows you some copy and you go, how do you know that?  Who is this source guy?  What is his—can you narrow it down? 

You know, the new rule is, they‘re saying at “The Times” now, they have got to say what the motive is for not identifying the guy, someone who doesn‘t like this policy, you know, those kinds of things.

BRADLEE:  Well, yes.


MATTHEWS:  According to someone who didn‘t want to be identified. 

BRADLEE:  So much you can do with identification, young, old, Army, Navy, boy, girl, age, you know, disenchanted, certainly, party, if you can do it. 

MATTHEWS:  There‘s a big fight going on right now about whether these two reporters, one for “The Times,” one for “TIME” magazine, Matt Cooper and Judy Miller—we know them both.


MATTHEWS:  Who are—who are really heading towards the slammer, it looks like now, because they‘re not giving away their sources.  You have got this hot-shot prosecutor looking into this case involving the outing of a secret—of a secret agent, basically.  What do you make of that case, where somebody really was potentially harmed by this?


BRADLEE:  I was hoping that this—this week might have helped that issue, to show that there was a reason for staying silent a long time.  And it was a valuable reason. 

MATTHEWS:  Would you pay a reporter‘s salary and help their family out if they had to go to the can over one of these issues? 

BRADLEE:  Well, of course...


MATTHEWS:  What would be the position of “The Post”?

BRADLEE:  Yes.  We would pay the—you know, if he got life, I don‘t know if we would.  But...


MATTHEWS:  How about 10 to 20? 


MATTHEWS:  What would you do?  How—how good would you be for this person?

BRADLEE:  Six to eight months, we would pay.  Sure, we‘d pay. 

MATTHEWS:  And you would fight it legally?

BRADLEE:  Of course.  And we would pay...


MATTHEWS:  Do you think it is an absolute right of the First Amendment that that reporters be protected and their sources? 

BRADLEE:  Oh, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  You do a lot of lecturing on this now.  I know you do.

BRADLEE:  Absolute is—absolute is so absolute. 

The answer generally is yes.  Could you—could you give me some circumstances when I would insist that we come—we out the guy?  I suppose you could. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you briefly.  I watched “Thirteen days” the other night, that great story about the Cuban Missile Crisis. 


MATTHEWS:  It was a pretty romantic account, but it worked for me.  I mean, I liked it.  You knew Jack Kennedy and all that. 


MATTHEWS:  Do you there are times when newspapers have a—have a responsibility to hold the story, a national security story? 

BRADLEE:  Oh, sure.  Sure.

MATTHEWS:  Like that one?

BRADLEE:  Well, I‘ll tell you that...

MATTHEWS:  Like, you know where the Cubans are about to invade their homeland and try to recapture it against Castro and you know what—when the D-day is and H-hour is? 

BRADLEE:  Well, well, you know, D-day and H-hour is—is tough. 

Here‘s the—I don‘t know about an absolute right.  Our rule became, and I think it is still in existence—that, when the government claimed national security, and we said OK, 24 hours.  We‘ll hold it 24 hours and you make your case.  And we‘ll make—we‘ll see if we can—we agree with it or we want to rebut it.  And if they can‘t do it after that, we go. 


BRADLEE:  But we generally give them 24 -- used to give them 24 hours. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me talk about the timing of this week. 

There was—and I watched this all that day this story broke.  I think it was Tuesday.  When the word was out that Deep Throat had unmasked himself, at least his family members had...


MATTHEWS:  And in those hours before he walked to that doorway.  We had Tom Brokaw on.  He said, the minute that guy stood up in the doorway, this deal was done.  He said, it was clear he wanted to stand behind the family position. 


MATTHEWS:  Was the—tell me your thinking in those hours—how long do you think—because “The Post” was wrestling with this, whether they figured the story was broke and they had to go with it or they could still hold out for the information you guys only had. 

BRADLEE:  Yes.  Here‘s what we were wrestling with.  Was—did—did the story break the...

MATTHEWS:  The tontine?


MATTHEWS:  The life deal? 

BRADLEE:  We had promised never to tell anyway.  If he tells somebody, I think that promise is silly.  I mean, we‘re going to look...

MATTHEWS:  Had you ever accounted for that possibility, that he would break the story himself? 

BRADLEE:  I don‘t have to account for that.  I mean...

MATTHEWS:  I mean, did you ever think about it? 

BRADLEE:  I never thought—I thought it would come out when he died. 


BRADLEE:  And we had...

MATTHEWS:  Because he was embarrassed by it?  Why would he—why would a man die with a secret like that and say, yes, you guys can break it when I‘m gone?

BRADLEE:  Well, why did he wait 30 years? 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s the great question.  What‘s the answer? 

BRADLEE:  I don‘t know. 

I‘m beginning to see stories all the time of—of—of—of people

·         people wherein—people knew it.  In 1979, I saw some story that actually they knew it and could have gone with it, but did not, or did go with it and nobody paid any attention to it. 


BRADLEE:  Everybody was guessing.  And they all...


MATTHEWS:  Was there ever a doubt—was there ever a possibility this Tuesday, when you heard that the story was going to be broken by “Vanity Fair,” this July issue, that you guys were just going to stonewall and say we‘re going to sit on this, and let them report it? 

BRADLEE:  Oh, that—that was—that was considered a—for a minute by Woodward.  He thought, you know, he wasn‘t sure whether he had been released. 


BRADLEE:  He certainly hadn‘t been released by the guy...

MATTHEWS:  Because of questions about the faculties of the guy, of Deep Throat.

BRADLEE:  Well, about his faculties.  And you know, it was the sister

·         the daughter was releasing it.  And—and the story—and this guy, who—not—story—the guy who wrote the book, wrote the story... 

MATTHEWS:  O‘Connor.

BRADLEE:  Yes.  Approached Woodward if he wanted to do a book.  By the time he asked him, Woodward had finished his book on it. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Woodward is going to have a hell of a book on this, isn‘t he? 

BRADLEE:  That‘s in New York now.  It will be out the 1st of July. 

MATTHEWS:  More with Ben Bradlee when we come back.

On Sunday night, don‘t miss our Deep Throat special, including my exclusive interview with Robert Redford at 8:00 p.m.  At 9:00 p.m., Brian Williams‘ interview with President Clinton, followed by “Meet the Press.”  It‘s HARDBALL celebrating eight years on MSNBC.




BENING:  No, no, it‘s OK.  You don‘t have to calm down.  Happy anniversary.

BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, “PLAN OF ATTACK”:  I helped Chris Matthews come up with the title, HARDBALL, for his first book and, therefore, the title for this show. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I want to wish a happy eighth anniversary. 

Congratulations, Chris and all the people involved. 



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Ben Bradlee of “The Washington Post.”

Ben, it was amazing watching these last three days of coverage and all the talk shows and the newspapers.  There you are, the journalist, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, journalists, talking about winning the Pulitzer Prize for “The Post” and getting this big story and maybe making journalistic history. 

And then you get Woodward—and then you get the guys on the show, like my colleague Pat Buchanan and G. Gordon Liddy, radio talk show host, and Chuck Colson with the prison ministries, and they‘ve got not only equal time with your guys, and sometimes they beat you on some of the shows, like today‘s show.  But they seem to get moral equivalence with you in the way they‘re treated. 


BRADLEE:  Oh, you noticed that, did you? 

MATTHEWS:  I did notice the moral equivalence. 

BRADLEE:  Well, I did, too.  And I, you know, I don‘t know anything about...


MATTHEWS:  These guys all served—except for Pat, all served time. 

BRADLEE:  Yes, that‘s true. 

Well, I‘m glad you said it, because that‘s what I was going to say. 

And I can‘t—I mean, Gordon Liddy?  I mean, holy moly. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he was asked to pass on the morality...

BRADLEE:  Of what? 

MATTHEWS:  ... of Deep Throat...


MATTHEWS:  Of Deep Throat breaking the story to you guys. 

BRADLEE:  I know.  But, I mean, what are his qualifications? 


MATTHEWS:  He‘s a burglar and a talk show host. 


BRADLEE:  Well, I agree.  I agree.

Then—I really wondered about that.  And—but I‘ve wondered enough.  I mean, I‘m—it‘s over and on we go. 

MATTHEWS:  What about sort of the inside the inside story? 

I‘ve always thought Erlichman, John Erlichman, one of President Nixon‘s top two guys...


MATTHEWS:  ... was a fascinating character.  It turns out, we were reading this—last—did you know that he was feeding stuff to Deep Throat, was feeding to it your paper? 

BRADLEE:  No.  And I‘m not sure that‘s true. 

MATTHEWS:  Really? 


I mean, I—I—I think they‘re marginally fascinating, some of these guys.  Some of them are pretty, pretty—you know, what you see is what you get.  I don‘t—you know, I mean, he‘s got a beard now and he looks a little different. 

MATTHEWS:  Who is that?

BRADLEE:  Erlichman. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he passed away, actually.

BRADLEE:  I know, but...

MATTHEWS:  You think he was pretty much part of the problem?


BRADLEE:  I don‘t think that was the strongest team the president could have had. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, when you listen to these darn tapes, when Nixon is at his worst...

BRADLEE:  Love those.

MATTHEWS:  Like, he‘s sitting there talking about Felt and how—who is this guy, Felt, the number two guy?  And he said—Nixon, who seemed to always hired Catholics around him for some reason, said, who is this guy, a Catholic?  I guess he thought, it was the FBI, Catholic.  And he goes, no. 

And then Haldeman says, no, he‘s Jewish.  And Nixon says, oh.  And then Haldeman says, that explains it. 



MATTHEWS:  These guys were quick to judge stereotypically.

BRADLEE:  Didn‘t he say, oh, they‘ve got them in there, too? 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It‘s like—it‘s like...


MATTHEWS:  Well, maybe he figured they‘re Democrats because of ethnic reasons.

But it‘s always this Haldeman guy who is always, like, appealing to Nixon‘s worst side. 


MATTHEWS:  Is that your sense?


MATTHEWS:  That he was the worst kind of enabler? 

BRADLEE:  Nixon—Nixon just—coming—always—never misses a shot to prove what you think about him. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, these tape, do you think the tapes are the ultimate best story of Watergate, not even your coverage? 

BRADLEE:  Well, I—I think the beginning was great, because—

because it was—we were the only game in town.  I think the tapes was a -

·         dynamite.  I mean, that—that was the end of it.  As soon as those tapes—I mean, I could—Woodward asked me...

MATTHEWS:  Could you...


MATTHEWS:  Do you believe Nixon, who had been bugging the Democrats, who had been bugging—we‘ve got stuff on the tapes.  He wanted to bug Brookings.  He wanted to bug...


MATTHEWS:  Was bugging himself? 

BRADLEE:  You know, Woodward once said to me, when he came in—he kept sneaking in.  And he said, would you believe that they have been taping every conversation?  And I said, no way, Jose. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re coming right back with Ben Bradlee.

And, on Monday, the first day of our anniversary week, we have a very special show.  We‘ve brought together the 14 senators who defied their party leadership and kept the Senate going. 

And journalism under fire.  “TIME” reporter Matt Cooper will find out this month if he has to go to jail for refusing to name his source in the Valerie Plame-Bob Novak controversy.  He‘ll be here, along with his lawyer, Ted Olson, and others to debate the ethics of protecting sources.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 



MATTHEWS:  We‘re back with Ben Bradlee of “The Washington Post.”

Ben, the biggest controversy—and you hear this, like, on FOX television and among the right wing generally—that we shouldn‘t be using, in journalism, unidentified sources, because they don‘t like the stories that are getting written.  Tell me what your case is for why it is important to have people that don‘t go on the record. 

BRADLEE:  Well, it depends on the—you know, what is the information?  Is it really good?  Or is it just pretend good?  Or is it just spicy? 

But if it is a really significant thing, like what Felt was suggesting, I think it is worth—it is worth going with one source.  That‘s the thing.  More than the confidentiality, is it confirmable in any way? 

MATTHEWS:  So, in this—so, you think—your argument is, if you can confirm the story and it is solid as a fact and you‘re willing to bet on the fact of it...


MATTHEWS:  There‘s no reason to have to release the source? 

BRADLEE:  Well, there‘s every reason to do it, because you‘re—you ought to serve your readers.  And your readers ought to know maximum identification possible. 

MATTHEWS:  So, when phrases like, sources said...

BRADLEE:  I don‘t like—like that at all. 

MATTHEWS:  Because that doesn‘t tell you anything.

BRADLEE:  You know, Democratic sources said or a Democratic source or a former Democratic...

MATTHEWS:  Or an FBI official...


MATTHEWS:  ... who is not happy with the leadership currently. 

BRADLEE:  Yes, or a—a young student said.  You can really help the reader say, oh, well, this is important or this is nothing. 

MATTHEWS:  What about when somebody gives sort of like just personality coverage and somebody said, X—X member of the staff of some morning talk show doesn‘t like the star on the show and says something catty—and says something catty.  Is that worth putting in a paper? 


MATTHEWS:  Something snarky? 

BRADLEE:  No.  Well, certainly not in the part of the paper that...

MATTHEWS:  The quality part of the paper. 



MATTHEWS:  That you edited. 


MATTHEWS:  One of the things you did to journalism in this town—and I always give you credit for it, because it—I enjoyed it—was style. 

BRADLEE:  Style.  That was...

MATTHEWS:  You took—I would pick up “The Washington”—back when I first came to this town in ‘71, I would pick up that big broadsheet of yours and it was like “The Philadelphia Inquirer,” but it was a lot more lively, I got to say.  And I would go right to that style page and there would be some amazing takeout piece about somebody.


MATTHEWS:  Hamilton Jordan or Steve Martindale.  Your wife—somebody was taking down somebody.  That‘s great journalism. 


MATTHEWS:  Why—why don‘t other papers do that?  Why doesn‘t anybody do that anymore? 

BRADLEE:  Well, they...


MATTHEWS:  The great big personality piece that tells you who somebody is. 

BRADLEE:  It‘s copied.  It‘s copied.  Every section—every paper in the country has a style section now.  They don‘t call it that. 


MATTHEWS:  Do they crackle? 

BRADLEE:  Life—well, some of them crackle.  Some of them don‘t. 

And I think it‘s—you know, that‘s a hard pace to keep, maintain. 


BRADLEE:  I think the style, our style section crackles a little less regularly than it did. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well, let me tell you.  Here‘s my two kinds of papers, the gray old lady up in New York, “The New York Times.”  You‘ve got to—as Walter Shapiro (ph), a friend of mind, once said, you have got to read something else before you read that, because you can‘t get up to that level.  You have got to read “The New York Post” first, because it really does—it may not be the most informative paper, but it is the most lively. 

And you‘ve got to read a lively paper, then a boring paper.  “The Post” was a good mix. 


I don‘t think that—I don‘t sit still for saying that “The Times” is a boring paper.  I think, recently, especially, I think they‘ve been doing a terrific job.  And I think—you know, papers and the sections of papers are cyclical.  Sometimes, your—you know, your sports section gets hot and everybody reads it.  And you‘ve got a good bunch of young guys.  And you suddenly turn around and those guys are 58 now. 


BRADLEE:  Look at those kids. 

MATTHEWS:  What was the secret?  What was—maybe it‘s like—you‘re talking it‘s like a football team or a baseball team. 

BRADLEE:  Yes.  They have good days.  But—but I—but...

MATTHEWS:  But you put together—I only got a minute here.  You put together Woodward and Bernstein, Woodward, who had no training before. 

Carl was a hell of a writer and a local guy from Montgomery Blair.  You had

·         you had Nick Von Hoffman on that paper writing poster all those years.


MATTHEWS:  You know, you put together Walter and all those—Walter Pincus. 


MATTHEWS:  You‘ve had a hell of an investigative team.

BRADLEE:  We had—we had Ward Just (ph).  We had Richard Harwood. 

We had Hayes Johnson (ph).  We had a hell of a team. 

MATTHEWS:  But you made print more exciting than TV. 


MATTHEWS:  People wanted to work in print for 10 years after Watergate because of you.

BRADLEE:  I think that‘s possible.  It‘s possible to do today.

MATTHEWS:  Because...


MATTHEWS:  You chuckle, but you really did make print fascinating. 


MATTHEWS:  What‘s your secret? 

BRADLEE:  Getting good people.  It‘s the same everywhere in the world. 

Get the good people and get them excited and get them going. 

MATTHEWS:  Are we going to have newspapers in 20 years? 

BRADLEE:  If you look in your newsroom and you see everybody is standing up, something is going on that‘s good. 

MATTHEWS:  OK, let me ask you this.  When I get young people in my office, producers, they‘re good producers.  They read online.  I say, anybody got a “Post” because I want to see what‘s at the movies tonight, they don‘t actually have “The Post.”  They read it online.  Is that a danger? 


BRADLEE:  Yes, it is a—it is a danger. 


BRADLEE:  Sure.  Well, I mean, if everybody does it, it is a danger. 

We are not going to print...

MATTHEWS:  You‘re not going to have any money.

BRADLEE:  We are not going to print 80,000 of these things... 


MATTHEWS:  Does it bother that you Google, this service, this online service, makes more money in advertising than “The Post” or “The New York Times”? 

BRADLEE:  I don‘t believe it. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, it is out this year, those quarter reports.  They have got the advertising money. 

BRADLEE:  Well, I don‘t believe they got has—well, anyway. 

But, no.  I mean, look, the same argument was made toward me 20 years ago about television.  Now look at the problems that the television news broadcasts have. 


BRADLEE:  They‘re not going well.  Their audience is way down. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes, the evening news stuff. 

BRADLEE:  Much further down than ours, much faster percentage, much—well, more... 


MATTHEWS:  So, you think there will always be newspapers? 

BRADLEE:  I do. 

MATTHEWS:  On print, on paper

BRADLEE:  In print.

MATTHEWS:  In newsprint?

BRADLEE:  Yes, sir, put under the arm.


MATTHEWS:  Ben Bradlee what a guy. 

When we come back, how much has journalism changed since the days of Watergate?  Journalists Richard Cohen and Karen Tumulty are going to join me.

And beginning next week, it‘s the eighth anniversary of HARDBALL.  Not

everybody celebrates the eighth anniversary.  And seven days is not enough

·         Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Bill Maher, and my Saturday night alter ego, Darrell Hammond.  And, on Monday, HARDBALL brings together the new leadership of the Senate, those 14 compromise senators, Republican and Democrat, who rocked the Capitol with their last-minute deal.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC. 


DONALD TRUMP, DEVELOPER/BUSINESSMAN:  I love HARDBALL.  Chris Matthews, there‘s nobody better than you.  Happy eighth anniversary.


Happy anniversary on eight years of HARDBALL.



MATTHEWS:  Coming up, was Deep Throat a hero?  We‘ll be back with Richard Cohen and Karen Tumulty.  And, later, President Ronald Reagan‘s tribute to some of the bravest soldiers of D-Day.

HARDBALL returns after this.



MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

Monday begins our eighth anniversary covering politics, government, and the media. 

But, tonight, more on the revelation of Deep Throat‘s identity. 

“Washington Post” syndicated columnist Richard Cohen and “TIME” magazine‘s Karen Tumulty join us right now, following up on the great Ben Bradlee.

Dick Cohen, you broke the big story about Spiro Agnew.  Was the—what can—what did you learn about that in confidential sources? 

RICHARD COHEN, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, I learned, in reporting the Agnew story, that confidential stories were absolutely essential. 

I mean, you cannot—you cannot get out from people who are afraid of being punished or, in some other way, their career ruined.  And the only place they have to go is the press.  I mean, at that time, don‘t forget, look at the numbers of people who went to jail as a result of Watergate who were in the government.  So, I mean, there was good reason for Mark Felt to fear for his career.  There was good reason for other people in the government to fear their career.  So, they had to go to the press.  And their names could not be revealed. 

MATTHEWS:  So, Spiro Agnew, the vice president of the United States, the former governor of Maryland, was getting big manila envelopes filled with cash in his office at the old Executive Office Building and he would have continued to get those big envelopes of cash once a week if you hadn‘t gotten him.  Right? 

COHEN:  Well, I wouldn‘t say necessarily that. 

I don‘t think it is the press that ultimately convicts people.  But you can keep the story out there and you can make government accountable.  And what the prosecutors feared, people in the Justice Department who were down on the investigative, investigatory level feared, was that, in the event that they got on to Agnew, which they did do, that they would be punished for it, that they would be transferred, that the case would be sealed and put away. 

There was precedent for this in the Justice Department.  I understand

·         we all know how much Mark Felt respected the FBI.  But the FBI was a place where files could get lost and kept by J. Edgar Hoover. 

MATTHEWS:  Karen Tumulty, confidential sources, you have to defend them all the time. 

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “TIME”:  Except, that‘s that what‘s happening now, and certainly with my colleague, for instance, Matt Cooper, is that the government fights back. 

And what we have discovered this year is that a lot of journalists are discovering that we‘re not as well protected in protecting our sources as we once thought we were.  We‘re discovering in the Matt Cooper-Judy Miller case that, in fact, the press has—has very little solid legal ground to stand on if the government decides they want to come after you on this. 

MATTHEWS:  What has changed? 

TUMULTY:  I think that—I think that the aggressiveness of the government in coming—and also just...


MATTHEWS:  That guy from Chicago. 

TUMULTY:  And also the whole sort of coarseness of the debate. 

I mean, the—the—the fact that, even this week, it just—it was like the swift boats all over again.  I mean, the revelation of who Deep Throat was became yet another opportunity for the left and the right to start throwing spitballs at each other. 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let‘s talk about the right, because it seems to me, you normally wouldn‘t want to rip the scab off your old wound. 

For some reason, the people around Richard Nixon have seen this as an opportunity not to show any shame, Dick, or to say, you know, that was a bad time and Nixon was wrong and we were wrong for helping him.  They‘ve come back with a vengeance and attacked the source of the story in “The Washington Post,” Deep Throat, and “The Washington Post.” 

I mean, Pat is out there.  Pat Buchanan is out there calling Woodward and Bernstein stenographers and, basically, apparatchiks of a guy who is mad at the president. 

COHEN:  Yes.  It‘s hard to get over.  I mean, with Pat and Chuck Colson and the rest of them, you have got a collection there of criminals, adjudicated criminals... 

MATTHEWS:  Well, not Pat. 

COHEN:  No, no, not Pat, but the criminals and the criminally insane. 

And I include him in that. 

I mean, Richard Nixon and the people around him committed crimes.  And those crimes were revealed by “The Washington Post” and Deep Throat and other people in the government.  That‘s the fact of it.  And for Pat to talk as the people who accused Nixon and uncovered these crimes and call them traitors and some word that he used for Mark Felt, I think is absolutely preposterous. 

I understand Pat‘s loyalty and I have always respected him for it.  But he has to understand that Richard Nixon and people around him committed crimes.  Simple as all that.

MATTHEWS:  Do you think—you know, and what bothers me is, when time passes, new journalists come along, and the coverage doesn‘t have the quality, the truth it had at the time it happened. 

It‘s like, every year that passes since Watergate, people get confused.  So, they end up saying, it was a controversial time, right? 


MATTHEWS:  And then they never tell you who the good guys were and the bad guys. 

TUMULTY:  Well, exactly. 

And, you know, in my opinion, Ben Bradlee was the great hero of Watergate, because...

MATTHEWS:  He told the truth. 

TUMULTY:  He—not only that, but he kept the story going. 

In fact, I asked him earlier this week.  I said, if there had been no Deep Throat to keep you guys going, would you have continued to have the appetite that you had for that story? 


TUMULTY:  And he said, God himself could not slaked it.  Well, I don‘t think that you see that sort of commitment anymore with news organizations.  They too much are too willing to cover the spitball fight. 

MATTHEWS:  Dick, you know, it is—it is a problem of moral equivalence, isn‘t it?  Like, the loyalists to a president, the burglars, the cover-up guys, the guys who went to the can, to federal prison for felonies, are treated on the same level as a—as a bureaucrat who tells the truth to the press. 

COHEN:  Yes.  Well, some of it—I mean, I—no aspersion on you, Chris, or your program, but some of it is television, because you always have the right and the left, the good guy and the bad gay.

MATTHEWS:  I know.  You know, I try to fight that, because, in the end, you have to ask people the right questions.  It is one thing to have Pat on.  But don‘t ask him about the ethics of Mark Felt, which some people do.  Or don‘t ask a burglar who has gone to the federal prison for burglarizing, you don‘t ask him about ethics questions. 

COHEN:  Right. 

I mean, people, I—I did a column on this.  And now I‘ve gotten hundreds of e-mails.  And some people say that, you know, comparing Mark Felt to, what‘s his name?  I lost the one in the Monica Lewinsky. 

TUMULTY:  Linda Tripp. 

COHEN:  Linda Tripp. 

And I‘m standing there stunned by it.  I mean, is there—is there— is there no distinction in anybody‘s mind between somebody who covers up a crime and somebody who is a conspiracy to trap somebody in a crime?  Is there no difference between government officials, high government officials who commit crimes and a president of the United States who commits a sex act?  This is all crazy. 


COHEN:  But it all seems to me, you know, right, left, back and forth, and it—and it is nonsense. 

MATTHEWS:  This we report, you decide stuff, well, there‘s—you have got to report more than—you‘ve got to report the facts, not just the personalities, and let people decide. 

TUMULTY:  But I think, in a lot of ways, it is easier for the news media to report the argument, as opposed to the facts. 


There was an illegal break-in. There was an illegal cover-up.  It was reported by the press.  A president resigned.  Those are the facts.  This is not an argument. 


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Karen.  I wish we had more time.  Karen Tumulty, great reporter for “TIME” magazine, Richard Cohen, who broke the Agnew story.

When we come back, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, he‘s going to talk about President Reagan‘s tribute to the daring battalion of Army Rangers in 1944 on D-Day and their assault on those German forces at Pointe du Hoc. 

And this Sunday, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, join NBC‘s Brian Williams for a conversation with President Clinton, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

On June 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan went to Normandy in France to commemorate the 40th anniversary of D-Day.  The two speeches Reagan gave that day are at the core of a new book by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley, “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S.  Army 2nd Second Ranger Battalion.”

At Pointe du Hoc, president Reelect paid tribute to that battalion.


RONALD REAGAN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs.  And before me are the men who put them there.  These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. 


REAGAN:  These are the men who took the cliffs.  These are the champions who helped free a continent.  And these are the heroes who helped end a war. 


MATTHEWS:  Doug Brinkley, the great historian, joins us now.

I got up that morning, watched “The Today Show.”  It was on live.  They timed it so he could do it.  Ronald Reagan, the man who didn‘t actually fight in World War II, somehow managed to convey the spirit of that war better than anybody else in the country.  How did he do it? 

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, during World War II, he was in San Francisco and Culver City.  And he made over 300 training films for Army Air Corps. 

MATTHEWS:  He was up near the Golden Gate Bridge at that... 


MATTHEWS:  ... up there.

BRINKLEY:  He was for a while.

And then, from there, he went down.  But these films, I looked at some of them, 300 of them during World War II.  And he became sort of the spokesperson for Hap Arnold and Army Air Corps.  He would go to parades and things. 

Well, then, as you know, Chris, in the ‘50s, he was spokesperson for General Electric. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRINKLEY:  So, when it came to 1984, it was a natural for him.  He always used World War II as his touchstone event.  But I think—he became a captain.  But since he never served, due to bad eyesight—and I got his medical records.  Some people have said he was trying to dodge service.  They were awful.

MATTHEWS:  No, I know he tried to go in.  I know he tried to get in. 

BRINKLEY:  And he became, then, I think—before Tom Brokaw‘s greatest generation or Spielberg‘s “Saving Private Ryan” or Ambrose‘s “Band of Brothers,” it was his speech there. 


MATTHEWS:  But it was something about his voice, that great all-American voice.  I mean, I work for Tip all those years, when he was up against him.  And Tip would always say, that voice is so American.  What a great, powerful instrument. 

But he seemed to be able to evoke us at our best, which was World War II.  How do—you still haven‘t answered my question.


MATTHEWS:  How did Ronald Reagan become the voice of the heroism in World War II? 

BRINKLEY:  Because, when they were looking for the 40th anniversary of D-Day commemoration, to go over there and give these speeches, I looked at the papers of Deaver and Darman and Peggy Noonan.  And they were looking for a blockbuster speech. 

The Vietnam War had torn the country apart.  You know, the Watergate -

·         and by ‘84, World War II triumphalism was a ticket to sell in a campaign year.  It was about Walter Mondale.  Deaver timed it, as you said, for the morning shows.  But, also, they ran the clips of this at the Republican Convention.  It became, it‘s morning again in America, the again being the World War II generation.  And they were...

MATTHEWS:  Whose spark was this?  Whose idea originally?  Was it Peggy? 


BRINKLEY:  No.  Mike Deaver was the stagecrafter of Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach.  But Peggy, only two months working for Ronald Reagan, never had met him. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

BRINKLEY:  When she wrote the speech.

MATTHEWS:  OK, explain this to me, because I was a speechwriter.  And Ted Sorensen was Jack Kennedy‘s speechwriter.  And Sam Rosenman was Roosevelt‘s, you know, the great speechwriters.

How did they click?  Where did Peggy, who never really lived on the level of Ronald Reagan—she was a regular girl from a regular family in New Jersey.  How did she connect up with Reagan‘s soul? 

BRINKLEY:  That‘s a great question. 

I mean, she was a conservative from New Jersey.  She loved people like “The New Journalist”‘s Gay Talese, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe.  And she worked on her writing a lot.  She was considered the conservative at CBS with Dan Rather. 

MATTHEWS:  Hey, look, we‘re going to talk more about this some day. 

But thank you.  It is a great book. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, all your books are great.  The book is called “The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Second Ranger Battalion,” a great gift, by the way, Father‘s Day.

Next week, HARDBALL celebrates its eighth anniversary.  And to kick it off, on Monday, we‘re bringing together the bipartisan group of moderate senators who brokered that deal to avoid the nuclear option in the filibuster fight.  Look at them.  They‘re all going to be together Monday.  Also, Monday, “TIME” magazine‘s Matt Cooper, who is facing jail time for not revealing an anonymous source. 

And next on COUNTDOWN, it‘s Keith Olbermann‘s top five stories of the week.



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