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Finally, their doggedness produced a fresh lead. In early December, they published a former White House secretary's on-the-record statement that Watergate Defendant E. Howard Hunt Jr had possessed a special telephone line into his White House office. The line bypassed the regular switchboard and the phone bills were routed through the secretary's home. "That story was like opening a pressure valve," says Sussman. "The criticism stopped immediately It showed that there was more to the case."
The Post men came to share an obsession with the story that had raised them from professional obscurity Otherwise, they have little in common other than youth. Woodward, an enrolled Republican, is a graduate of Yale and the Navy officer corps. He is handsome, dresses old-campus conservative and once considered a law career Last summer he had had only a year's experience with the Post, much of it covering local stories. He is considered a smooth interviewer but a mediocre writer Bernstein, long of hair and sloppy of dress, a college dropout, is something out of The Front Page Despite his prose flair, he had a reputation for spotty performance, dating partly from the time a superior caught him apparently asleep in the city-hall press room. Bernstein literally throws himself at sources. Once, after a hearing at the Watergate trial, several defendants crowded into a single cab Bernstein lunged into the car as it pulled away and was last seen on a defendant's lap.
Despite their differences in style and the fact that they see little of each other socially, the men work well together under Sussman's avuncular guidance.
Some stories are written in collaboration, in cases where only one does the writing, a double byline is retained because they have developed a mutual pool of information.
The trio's work has already won six major reporting prizes, netting $2,000 for Sussman and $3,250 each for Bernstein and Woodward. The two reporters are planning a book on Watergate and have already received a $55,000 advance from Simon & Schuster They are still uncovering new chapters. Last week they reported that as early as last December aides had warned President Nixon of a White House cover-up of the Watergate case. The Administration had no comment on the storyand no denunciation of the Post