American Pie 01.05.03

Who “Deep Throat” was is still regarded as America’s number one journalistic mystery, after more than three decades. The identity of the anonymous tipster in the Watergate scandal is hidden in the papers that Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein recently sold to the University of Texas for $5m (£3.2m), but will be revealed only on his death, the newsmen have pledged. That spurred a group of journalism students at the University of Illinois to conduct their own private investigation. After studying more than 16,000 documents, some from the files of the FBI, they have come up with their own name of who was probably the mystery tipster – a relatively obscure White House lawyer called Fred Fielding. They base their claim on at least six specific instances of information to which the lawyer was privy – and which turned up in Woodward-Bernstein stories. Not only that, but Fielding was known to enjoy Scotch whisky and strong cigarettes, which gave him his deep, gravelly voice. Despite the new speculation, Woodward and Bernstein maintain their silence. Fielding has also refused to confirm or deny the students’ claim.

Newsmen who were caught trying to bring home souvenirs from Iraq are regarded here as having besmirched the profession. At least seven were caught. Although most claimed that everyone was doing it, and that bringing back souvenirs from wars is a long-established practice, the disapproval was instant. “Inexcusable. It undercuts our credibility with the public,” said an official from the Society of Professional Journalists. One of the few journalists identified publicly was Jules Crittenden, the Boston Herald reporter who earlier made headlines when he acted as an unofficial spotter for the crew of the armoured car in which he was riding. At Boston Airport, he innocently declared a five-foot painting of Saddam and some kitchen equipment from one of his palaces. His “souvenirs” are now being sent back to Iraq. No charges are expected. Not so lucky was a Fox TV technician who was caught at Washington Airport with 12 paintings in his baggage. He was instantly fired – and could still face a $250,000 fine.

Seventeen, once the leading teenage girls’ magazine in the US, has been sold at what is regarded as a knock-down price to Hearst Magazines. Originally put on the market by Primedia for $200m, the magazine ultimately fetched $182.4m after several potential big bidders dropped out. Just four years ago, Condé Nast offered $500m for the magazine – but since then it has faced serious competition from such newcomers as YM and Teen People. Last year, its profit fell from almost $26m to just over $15m. News-stand sales were also down 24 per cent. Hearst already owns CosmoGIRL!, one of the magazines that was making life difficult for Seventeen. Can the two co-exist? Is a merger on the cards? No one at Hearst is commenting.

America’s oldest travel magazine, Travel Holiday, is folding – a victim of the slump in tourism and the decline in travel advertising. Just two years ago, the magazine celebrated its 100th birthday. That was two years after it was bought by Hachette Filipacchi from Reader’s Digest for a reported $15m. It was intended as a cornerstone for a new Hachette travel group, but it was never able to overtake the two leaders in the travel field here, Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler.

By Jeffrey Blyth

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