Having known a lot of whistleblowers in my time -- more than a dozen of them, easily -- I find it hard to believe that these people did not come to him ahead of time.Sure. That isn't what happened, however.
What actually happened is that someone's boss said in an interview that if someone who leaked confidential company documents to disastrous effect on the company were to come see him directly, he'd pursue a course of action that doesn't end in their immediate termination, which is...what would normally happen. Like without any room for doubt.
These are two very different things.
He's literally offering an olive branch to someone or a group of someones that he doesn't want to have to fire, but who he absolutely would normally have to fire. He probably had to convince his Rawson and/or Williams to even allow it.
Whistleblowers don't want to hurt their business. (The people who are telling you otherwise tend to be the people who really, really don't want anyone blowing the whistle on them, for good reason.) All of the folks I know have been true believers who have gone through all the steps internally that are supposed to work and it didn't change anything.
Feeling betrayed by an organization they believe in and whose espoused values they are seeking to uphold more than the powers of be often are, only then do they leak something.
The time to stop a leak is before it happens -- by actually solving the problem in the method you tell staff is the way to do it -- rather than waiting for it to be in the Washington Post first.