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Not since Jacob Riis and Lincoln Steffens have muckrakers had such celebrity -- even Redford wants to be Woodward. And Brit Hume, a young Capital reporter, wouldn't mind some recognition either. Problem is the way things move so fast these days, the reporter who stopped the presses for the afternoon finals isn't always so hot by 6:00 o'clock news time. Hume went to work for the Washington Merry-G-Round shortly after Jack Anderson took over the syndicated column (700 papers), when the push was on to close the credibility gap (Drew Pearson, Anderson's predecessor, had been known to be casual about facts). But during Hume's three years, there seemed to be an equal tug for notoriety and from time to time it got the better of the staff. So while there were such valuable disclosures as the Dita Beard ITT memo (Hume's own project and given the most space here), some of Anderson's coverage -- which Hume would just as soon disassociate himself from -- might better have been spiked: the unsubstantiated drunk-driving charge against Eagleton, the tasteless Randy Agnew column with its innuendo of homosexuality (Hume wrote it, but only at Anderson's insistence). Somehow, though, Hume's pretty proud of his own questionable expose of Al Capp's sexual activities, a story that smacks of a vendetta against the cartoonist for his reactionary politics. And round and round the carousel goes until sometimes you get so dizzy you can't tell the difference between what's an honest mistake, an outright lie or merely a self-serving apologia. Hume is a great admirer of his former boss, understand -- even as he ever so subtly hones the shiv.

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday