On the Fourth Estate

Last week, I happened to watch a documentary on the Watergate scandal of thirty years ago. Now I remember Watergate. I wasn't very old, but I was old enough to realize something big was happening; what I wasn't, was old enough to understand why it was happening.It was happening because two reporters, who were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, had noticed something unusual and had followed it up. To be specific: Bob Woodward was covering a routine court case for the Washington Post when he heard one of the defendants tell the judge, sotto voce, that he worked for the CIA. Nothing more, nothing less. He followed that up, with the help of Carl Bernstein, and together they began digging. They took nothing at face value, and ultimately they revealed a cover-up that brought down the President of the USA.Sixty years ago, in July 1943, Etienne Dupuch, the longtime editor of the Tribune, did something similar in the Bahamas. The philanthropic millionaire Harry Oakes was discovered murdered in his bed, in circumstances that remain confusing to this day. The Duke of Windsor, then the governor of the Bahamas, had begun a mystifying cover-up, which included contacting the Miami branch of the FBI, attempting to conceal certain facts of the case, and, apparently, framing Oakes' scandal-mongering son-in-law. Dupuch found out about the murder and dispatched reports about it to the international press, thus thwarting, at least for a while, the royal conspiracy.

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