"God and the Editor"? Do tell

PhelpsCover.jpgThis is one of those cases when the mainstream press cannot be accused of burying the lede. The headline in the New York Times says it all (kind of): "2 Ex-Timesmen Say They Had a Tip on Watergate First." Wow. We are, after all, dealing with one of the foundational stories in modern American journalism, the creation myth that send a generation of young people racing into journalism schools. Members of that generation are, for better and for worse, currently leading many major newsrooms.

However, I am curious about the book itself and, so far, cannot find any articles that tell me more about it -- other than the Watergate shocker. Here's the heart of the matter:

Robert M. Smith, a former Times reporter, says that two months after the burglary, over lunch at a Washington restaurant, the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, L. Patrick Gray, disclosed explosive aspects of the case, including the culpability of the former attorney general, John Mitchell, and hinted at White House involvement.

Mr. Smith rushed back to The Times's bureau in Washington to repeat the story to Robert H. Phelps, an editor there, who took notes and tape-recorded the conversation, according to both men. But then Mr. Smith had to hand off the story -- he had quit The Times and was leaving town the next day to attend Yale Law School.

Mr. Smith kept the events to himself for more than three decades, but decided to go public after learning that Mr. Phelps planned to include it in his memoir. ...

So what happened to the tip, the notes, the tape? Were they pursued to no effect? Simply forgotten?

No, the tapes are (cue: drum roll) missing.

But what about this book? I certainly want to know more about a memoir entitled "God and the Editor: My Search for Meaning at The New York Times." After all, the publicity page at Syracuse Press offers these hints about some of the contents and its author:

Along the way he struggled with balancing his moral ideals and his personal ambition. In this compelling memoir, Phelps interweaves his personal and professional experiences with some of the most powerful stories of the era. ...

As Phelps settled in at the New York Times, journalism became the religion he had searched for since his adolescence. Over his tenure of nearly two decades, however, Phelps found that journalism's stark emphasis on fact was insufficient to address many of life's dilemmas and failed to provide the sustaining guidance he envied in his wife's Catholic faith.

Fascinating. I certainly want to know more.

So, dear GetReligion readers, has anyone dug into this book? Seen a good feature about it that Google is missing?

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