Who the heck is Fred Fielding?
Washington lawyer Fred Fielding will be the new White House counsel, replacing Harriett Miers.
Many people will recall Miers' name. She briefly was President Bush's nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy caused by the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor. But I'm willing to bet that very few people in Champaign-Urbana recognize Fielding's name, even though he has been associated with Republican administrations going back to Richard Nixon.
For those who don't recall, a University of Illinois investigative journalism class, taught by Pulitzer Prize winner William Gaines, concluded a couple of years ago that Fielding was Deep Throat, the secret source used by journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, to help unravel the Watergate scandal.
By a sophisticated process of elimination, Gaines' students slowly cut down the field of Deep Throat candidates before concluding that Fielding most probably was the guy. They built a compelling case of circumstantial evidence, but it turned out that they were wrong.
W. Mark Feldt, the number two man at the FBI, eventually acknowledged that he was Deep Throat. Fielding, who had vehemently denied any link to Deep Throat, was wrongly identified.
It's a cautionary tale. Sometimes even the most persuasive evidence can lead investigators in the wrong directions and to the wrong conclusion.