Karlyn Barker, a former UPI reporter who had joined the city staff on the same day a Woodward, said a friend of hers had gone to USC with the White House boys and had stayed in close touch with them. Within a few hours, Barker had given Bernstein a memo headed "Notes on the USC Crowd"
Her friend had known Segetti, Chapin and Tim Elbourne since collage. He referred to the "USC Mafia" in the White House and said Segetti and Elbourne had been called by their schoolmates Dwight Chapin and Ron Ziegler to help in the Nixon reelection business.
All belonged to a campus political party called "Trojans for Representative Government". The Trojans called their brand of electioneering "ratfucking". Ballot boxes were stuffed, spies were planted in the opposition camp, and bogus campaign literature abounded. Ziegler and Chapin had hooked onto Richard Nixon's 1962 campaign for governor of California-managed by Bob Haldeman. After graduation, Ziegler, Chapin and Elbourne had joined the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in Los Angeles, where Haldeman was vice president. Segetti had been summoned to Washington and trained to work in a presidential election, according to Karlyn Barker's friend.
Bernstein called the Justice Department official who had originally told him Segetti was part of the Watergate investigation. "Yes, political sabotage is associated with Segetti. I've heard the term for it, 'ratfucking', the official said. There is some very powerful information, especially if it comes out before November 7," the day of the election.
Did Segetti have anything to do with "Canuck Letter?"
The so called Canuck Letter had been the beginning and the end of the Muskie campaign, as far as some of the Senator's aids were concerned. On Feburary 24, two days before Muskie was scheduled to campaign in Manchester, New Hampshire, William Leob's right-wing newspaper , the Manchester Union Leader, had published an anti- Muskie editoial on it's front page. Titled " Senator Muskie Insults Franco-Americans". It acussed Muskie of hypocracy for supporting Blacks while condoning the term "Canucks", -a deragatory name for Americans of French-Canadian ancestry, tens of thousands which lived in New Hampshire.
The "evidence" was a semi-literate letter ostensibly mailed to Leob from Deerfield Beach, Florida, and published in the Union Leader the same day as the editorial. The signer claimed that a Muskie campaign aide at a Fort Lauderdale meeting had said that "we don't have Blacks but we have Cannocks" (sic), and the Senator reportedly concurred laughingly, saying, "Come to New England and see". The Muskie campaign had contended that the letter was fake, and had undertaken an investigation but failed to find the author.
On February 25, Loeb had reprinted a two-month-old Newsweek item about the Senator's wife. Titled "Big Daddy's Jane," it reported she sneak-smoked, drank and used off color language on the press plane.
The next morning, standing in a near-blizzard on the back of a flatbed truck, Muskie had abandoned his prepared text and attacked Loeb as a "gutless coward." Then, while defending his wife, he broke down and cried. There is no dispute among Muskie's backers, his opponents and the press that the incident had a disastrous effect on his campaign. It shattered the calm, cool, reasoned image that was basic to Muskie's voter appeal, and focussed the last-minute attention of New Hampshire voters on the alleged slur against the French-Canadians who would be a formidable minority or voters in the Democratic primary.
Bernstein groped through the paper effluvia on his desk and retrieved a manila file marked "Phones." In June he had begun jotting down phone numbers of persons contacted on the story, logging them on a sheet of paper. He started going through the pages, looking for people who might know about Donald Segretti, "ratfucking," Dwight Chapin, the USC Mafia, the Canuck Letter.
Bernstein had been reading the clippings on the primaries for any examples of malicious tricks. Finally he hit with one call. Ratfucking?" The word struck a raw nerve with a Justice Department attorney. "You can go right to the top with that one. I was shocked when I learned about it. I couldn't believe it. These are public servants? God. It's nauseating. You're talking about fellows who come from the best schools in the country. Men who run the government!"
Bernstein wondered what "right to the top" meant.
"It's absolutely despicable. I was so shocked. I didn't understand it. All these people, unbelievable. Look at Hunt. I don't think he's involved in the ratfucking, but he's capable of anything. The press hasn't brought this home. You're dealing with people who act like this was Dodge City, not the capital of the United States.
Bernstein was impressed. He had never known the man to be so angry. The secret fund-had it financed the ratfucking? And John Mitchell?
"Mitchell? He can't say he didn't know about it, because it was strategy-basic strategy that goes all the way to the top. Higher than him even."
Higher than Mitchell? Dwight Chapin was a functionary, an advance man and glorified valet, servant to Richard Nixon and H R Haldeman. At most there were three persons who went higher than John Mitchell: John Ehrlichman (maybe), Haldeman and Richard M. Nixon.
Basic strategy that goes all the way to the top. The phrase unnevered Bernstein. For the first time, he considered the possibility that the President of the United States was the head ratfucker.
From the book All the Presidents Men
I would say the answer must be yes.