Friday, June 03, 2005

The "Mesa Effect"

Because of various problems with e-mail, I'm copying my comment on Deep Throat from
Achenblog: Daily Humor and Observations from Joel Achenbach: "As you said, history sometimes operates with the butterfly effect. It's also fascinating to see the 'mesa effect' in operation: the passage of time erodes away detail and certain people start to emerge and dominate the scene, at least as represented in popular memory and history. You can see that operating here. First there's the idea that 'All the King's Men' played up 'Deep Throat' to make a stronger narrative. Now popular commentary seems to be saying the Post brought down Nixon and Deep Throat was the source for the Post. (I see Bradlee resisted that idea in the interview on The whole drama gets simplified as time goes on--Judge Sirica, the prosecutors, the Senate committee, Saturday Night Massacre, all get omitted in the retelling. (The main exception to the simplification is the multiplication of conspiracy theories by the nuts.) It's plausible that Felt had several different reasons to confirm Woodward's info and guide his research, but the soap opera requires that he be either piqued villain or idealistic hero, not an ordinary human operating with mixed motives."

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