Colson and Howie mull Deep questions

It isn't every day that one gets to read Howie Kurtz and Chuck Colson and mull over moral issues linked to journalism and politics and the politics of journalism. Still, it's clear that people are a long, long way from being done talking about the Deep Throat case. To get back the original post by the Rt. Rev. LeBlanc, please click here. So, to get the mood right, just light up a cigaratte and keep reading. Let's start with the key section of a new Colson BreakPoint radio commentary, in which he once again argues that Felt -- a close associate of Colson's in those days -- was not being heroic.

You will not be surprised that this conservative Christian apologist believes this case offers us another insight into the moral conflicts -- are there absolutes? -- of our day. It also helps to remember that Colson went to jail for doing precisely what Felt did. Here's the key part of the text:

Today, I'm not concerned about how Mark Felt, or those of us involved in Watergate, or the press is judged by history. All of us have to be responsible for what we did ourselves. What I am concerned about is how, in the eyes of many people, Mark Felt's end justified his means.

I've watched some of the classroom discussions on TV, and, almost to a person, students say he did the right thing because his end was good. This is terribly wrong. I know we live in an era of moral relativism -- everybody chooses what is "right" for them. But this is a path to chaos and a lawless, ungovernable nation.

That's the religious and moral side of this drama.

It is also possible to ask questions about how this case impacted the ethics and morality of journalism. That's the larger question that has been bothering me and it also seems to have been bothering the nation's top news-media-beat reporter, over at The Washington Post, of all places.

Here is how Kurtz starts off:

Was Watergate bad for journalism? On its face, the question seems absurd. The drama of two young metro reporters for The Washington Post helping to topple a corrupt president cast a golden glow over the news business in the mid-1970s.

Newspapermen became cinematic heroes, determined diggers who advanced the cause of truth by meeting shadowy sources in parking garages, and journalism schools were flooded with aspiring sleuths and crusaders. But the media's reputation since then has sunk like a stone, and one reason is that some in the next generation of reporters pumped up many modest flaps into scandals ending in "gate," sometimes using anonymous sources who turned out to be less than reliable.

We are just getting started with this, methinks. So keep reading, and don't let the smoke get in your eyes.

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