Commissioner Gordon and Perry White: Do You Think They Know?

It seems to me that Commissioner Gordon and Perry White ought to have figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman (Gordon) and Clark Kent is Superman (White).  

Why?

Because they're both intelligent people with a great deal of experience in professions (detective, journalist) where key qualifications include keen observational skills and the ability to ferret out information - often information that intelligent and/or powerful people don't want anyone to know.

In addition, they both have spent a lot of time with their particular subject on both of their identities over the years - Gordon with both Wayne and Batman, and White with both Kent and Superman.

Why have they never come put and said so to their particular subjects? It seems to me that to do so might open cans of worms for both themselves and the heroes in question.

I'm not sure, but it strikes me as possible that their might be questions of professional ethics for both of them if this question were brought out into the open.  White would have to deal with the fact that a prominent local  figure - and someone whose exploits the Planet covers regularly (and whose exploits presumably helps them sell lots of papers) is, in fact, an employee of theirs. Gordon, on the other hand, would have to deal the fact that he knows the identity of a prominent local vigilante, at least some of whose activities might not be what one might call "legal".

So, to avoid these kinds of confrontations, and incidentally to avoid disruption this might cause to the heroes crime-fighting efforts, White and Gordon maintain the pretense - perhaps even to themselves - that they do not know who Batman and superman really are.

What do you think?

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I'm positive that Gordon knows, and I think it's highly likely that Perry has figured it out. For Gordon, given that Batman is sometimes officially affiliated with the GCPD,  I definitely think there could be some ethics issues if he came forward with that information.

As for Perry with Superman, I think it would be more of an instance where he doesn't feel the need to bother Clark with his suspicions, or that he knows that he might become a target if the knowledge that he knows Superman's secret comes out.

In lighter times gone by, i think they not only know, they also know the other knows and they sometimes get together for a drink and cigar to commiserate. It sure seemed like the Batman family of characters and Superman family of characters were amazingly close for people in different cities.

In the current movies, of course, the two more likely keep their mouths shut out of fear.

If they don't know, they certainly have the ability to find out.

Commissioner Gordon needs Batman to operate in Gotham City with secrecy and freedom to act around the law. There is no reason to complicate matters so he acts oblivious to the clues that hit him in the face everyday! And Batman's actions make him look good with a high arrest rate!

Perry White wants Superman to stay in Metropolis and have a close relationship with the Daily Planet. He likes that the Man of Steel keeps giving him exclusive stories. He has no reason to get that ultimate "scoop". That's why he ignores Clark's timidity and absences, why he allows Lois and Jimmy their misadventures and why he creates an environment for a secret identity to thrive in. He's helping Superman and helping himself!

I think if Perry knew without a doubt, he'd feel obligated to disclose it. I'm not sure if he *would* disclose it, but I think he'd really have to wrestle with the ethics of not doing so, and wouldn't feel good about himself whichever way he landed. 

So I think he has strong suspicions, but does his best to not act on them, and to keep them from being confirmed so he doesn't put himself, the Planet, and Superman in a bad place.

We've had this conversation before ("Would Perry White Keep Superman's Secret?"), and I concluded that Perry would feel duty-bound to publish the secret if he knew and probably fire Clark Kent to boot, so he makes sure he doesn't know. Captain Comics concluded that Perry would not, on the ground that his sense of ethics would lead him to conclude that keeping the secret would be the greater public good.

But we actually saw this play out recently in the Superman comics, just a couple years ago: Lois Lane outed Clark Kent in Superman #41 (actually, in a Free Comic Book Day special, Divergence #1) -- and subsequently, Perry did exactly as I anticipated and fired Clark.

Now, of course, all that has been waved away, so who knows?

Ah, interesting, I'd forgotten that conversation.

Yeah, but has anybody here been reading Superman for the past two years?

Admittedly, I haven't; the New 52 Superman was one reboot too many for me.

If Perry finds out a secret in someone's personal life that doesn't affect the public and isn't a crime, why would he be obligated to reveal it?

Richard Willis said:

If Perry finds out a secret in someone's personal life that doesn't affect the public and isn't a crime, why would he be obligated to reveal it?

Superman is a public figure. And almost every action he takes does affect the public.

Plus, Superman being an employee of the Planet raises some serious ethics issues.  Reporters aren't supposed to make a living interviewing themselves.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Richard Willis said:

If Perry finds out a secret in someone's personal life that doesn't affect the public and isn't a crime, why would he be obligated to reveal it?

Superman is a public figure. And almost every action he takes does affect the public.

As for Commissioner Gordon and what he knows, we've chewed on that over in this thread, "Flash Questions AKA I Was Wondering #3". I take the same view I took with Perry White: He doesn't want to know, 'cause if he did, he'd have to do something about it. Gordon needs plausible deniability even more than Perry White does. 

Seems JJ should have figured Spider-Man out by this time. He hired a goon to take pictures of Spider-Man and the goon keeps delivering. Perhaps he suspects and doesn't care, since he knows Peter is insulting himself when JJ writes one of his pen letters on the crime fighter. I mean, he can't just be crazy, can he?

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