Blowing the whistle on powerful people: that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
All Americans should be fighting against bad behavior. If we see a child being beaten, we should stop it. If we someone stealing, we should report it to the cops. Any injustice should be confronted. If we all did that, the country would be a much better place.
Yet somehow the words "snitch" and "rat" are often applied to people who refuse to allow a wrongdoing to go unchecked. Kids pick this up fast. In school if you snitch, you become an outcast. That is just awful.
Enter 91-year-old Mark Felt (search), who more than 30 years ago brought down the Nixon administration by telling The Washington Post about the Watergate (search) break-in and cover-up. Felt now admits he is the famous "Deep Throat."
Some believe Felt is a hero. Others a villain. But the evaluation is a tough one. Felt apparently was angry he was passed over for the top job at the FBI after Hoover died. So he did have his ax. But it's also true that the Nixon administration, notably John Ehrlichman (search) and Bob Haldeman (search), the president's top aides, were breaking all kinds of laws. And Felt's boss Attorney General John Mitchell (search) was corrupt as well.
So put yourself in Felt's shoes for a moment. If he went public with what the FBI knew about the Nixon administration, he would have been vilified beyond belief. Very few people would put themselves through that. His career would have been over, his family damaged.
Thus Felt decided to go the stealth route and expose the Nixon people through the press by being an anonymous source. Unfortunately, Felt then did exactly what the Watergate burglars did. He ran an illegal FBI operation that broke into the homes of people suspected of being radicals. He was convicted of that in 1980.
A year later, President Reagan pardoned Felt. So there was hypocrisy on Felt's part, no question. Felt has now come forward because his family needs money, which he will get from a book contract and for selling his story to a magazine. That is not very noble, but helping one's family is.
So you're going to have to make the call on this one. "Talking Points" is conflicted. No president, his aides or anyone else in the executive branch can ever be allowed to break the law. That was the case against Bill Clinton.
Although President Nixon did many good things, his paranoia ruined him. He surrounded himself with some ruthless men and his administration collapsed. Nixon got what he deserved.
Is Mark Felt getting what he deserves? I just don't know. Some cases can go either way. This is one of them.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
At last, the Michael Jackson (search) trial is wrapping up. The jury could begin final deliberations tomorrow, and it will be ridiculous if they don't.
Here are the results of our billoreilly.com poll, which asks: Do you think Jackson will be found guilty? More than 25,000 of you voted. Fifty-two percent say no, he will walk. Forty-eight percent believe he will be convicted. Very, very close. Ridiculous? We'll see.
I—You can watch Bill O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" and "Most Ridiculous Item" weeknights at 8 and 11 p.m. ET on the FOX News Channel. Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org