Ron Kessler

Ron Kessler

Inside Media: The History of the FBI

June 21, 2008

Guest: Ron Kessler

Despite abusing his power, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover "insisted on honesty when it came to reporting factually about crimes and about suspects, said Ronald Kessler, author of "The Bureau: the Secret History of the FBI."

"He was brilliant when it came to the press," Kessler said.

"On the one hand, people who wanted to do critical stories were on the ‘do-not-call’ list," Kessler said. "On the other hand, he would cultivate reporters who would be friendly and give them tips."

One example was Walter Winchell, the famed gossip columnist and radio commentator of the 1930s and 1940s. Hoover fed him scoops on politicians.

Kessler cited another FBI source, W. Mark Felt, who secretly guided Bob Woodward’s Watergate reporting for The Washington Post in the early 1970s.

"[Felt] really felt Nixon was abusing his position, and there’s nothing more grating to an FBI agent than a public official who abuses his trust," Kessler said. "I do believe that was his main motivation for becoming Woodward’s source."

Kessler said he correctly identified Felt as "Deep Throat" three years before Felt publicly revealed his role as Woodward’s anonymous source, after Felt’s daughter told Kessler about a meeting between the two men at Felt’s home in 1999.

"Inside Media," produced by the Newseum, is open to the public. Seating is on a space-available basis.

Noted author Ron Kessler talked with the Newseum’s Sonya Gavankar during "Inside Media" about the FBI’s history, leadership and mission. Kessler was able to reveal some fascinating insights on the show.

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