Smith and Phelps…?

It is widely viewed as being the greatest scoop in newspaper history. But 37 years after the Watergate scandal, which turned the Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into household names, it has emerged they could have been replaced in the pantheon of investigative journalism by Robert Smith and Robert Phelps.

Smith and Phelps, two New York Times journalists in 1972, have finally come forward to admit that they were given key information about the cover-up that led to the ignominious fall of Richard Nixon. But they dropped the ball.

The tip-off was made to Smith, a reporter on the newspaper, at a private lunch with Patrick Gray, acting director of the FBI, on 16 August 1972. That was two months after a group was caught breaking into a room at the Watergate hotel, in Washington, in an attempt to bug the headquarters of the Democratic party in election year.

Guardian story here

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