Deep Throat - Deep Throat Revealed

Deep Throat Revealed

Although confirmation of Deep Throat's identity remained elusive for over 30 years, there were suspicions that Felt was indeed the reporters' elusive source long before the public acknowledgement in 2005.

  • Richard Nixon himself believed that Felt might be Deep Throat but did not try to out him. His stated rationale for this was that if he had done so, Felt would have publicly revealed information damaging to the FBI, and to other powerful people and institutions. Nixon at the time stated Felt "knows everything there is to know in the FBI." Nixon's motives in not outing Felt may not have been entirely altruistic since Nixon would also have been damaged by the potential revelations of Felt.
  • Carl Bernstein did not even share Deep Throat's identity with his immediate family, which included his wife Nora Ephron. (As he said on NBC's Today Show on June 2, 2005, "I was never dumb enough to tell ." He said, "...which was very smart because I would have told the whole world by now.") Ephron became obsessed with figuring out the secret and eventually correctly concluded that he was Mark Felt. (It had previously been revealed that Deep Throat was definitely a male.) In 1999, a 19-year-old college freshman, Chase Culeman-Beckman, claimed to have been told by Bernstein's son that Mark Felt was really Deep Throat. According to Culeman-Beckman, Jacob Bernstein had said that he was "100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt. He's someone in the FBI." Jacob had reportedly said this approximately 11 years prior, when he and Culeman-Beckman were classmates. Ephron explained that their son overheard her "speculations," and Carl Bernstein himself also immediately stepped forward to reject the claim, but many did not believe these claims.
  • The Gemstone Files, attributed to Bruce Porter Roberts, point to Felt as Deep Throat.
  • James Mann, who had worked at the Post at the time of Watergate and was close to the investigation, brought a great deal of evidence together in a 1992 article in The Atlantic Monthly that fingered Felt and convinced many. He argued that the information that Deep Throat gave Woodward could only have come from FBI files. Felt was also embittered at having been passed over for Director of the FBI and believed that the FBI in general was hostile to the Nixon Administration. In previous unrelated articles, Woodward had made clear he had a highly placed source at the FBI, and there is some evidence he was friends with Felt.
  • Woodward has kept in close touch with Felt over the years, even showing up unexpectedly at his house in 1999, after Felt's dementia began, and at the home of Felt's daughter, Joan, in Santa Rosa, California, as well. Some suspected at that time that Woodward might be asking Felt if he could reveal him to be Deep Throat, though Felt, when asked directly by others, had consistently denied being "Deep Throat".
  • In 2002, Timothy Noah called Felt "the best guess going about the identity of Deep Throat."
  • In 1976, Assistant Attorney General John Stanley Pottinger had convened a grand jury to investigate a series of potentially illegal break ins that Felt had authorized against various dissident groups. Felt was testifying before the jury when a juror asked him, out of the blue, "Are you Deep Throat?" Pottinger reports that Felt "went white with fear." Pottinger explained to Felt that he was under oath and would have to answer truthfully, but since Pottinger felt the question was outside the purview of the investigation, he offered to withdraw it if Felt wished.

In February 2005, Nixon's former White House Counsel, news columnist John Dean, reported that Woodward had recently informed Bradlee that "Deep Throat" was ailing and close to death, and that Bradlee had written Deep Throat's obituary. Both Woodward and the then-current editor of The Washington Post, Leonard Downie, denied these claims. Felt was something of a suspect, especially after the mysterious meeting that occurred between Woodward and Felt in the summer of 1999. But others had received more attention over the years, such as Pat Buchanan, Henry Kissinger, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, General Haig, and, before it was revealed that "Deep Throat" was definitely not female, Diane Sawyer.

On May 31, 2005, Vanity Fair magazine reported that William Mark Felt, then aged 91, claimed to be the man once known as "Deep Throat". Later that day, Woodward, Bernstein, and Bradlee released a statement through The Washington Post confirming that the story was true.

On June 2, 2005, the Washington Post ran a lengthy front-page by Woodward in which he detailed his friendship with Felt in the years before Watergate. Woodward wrote that he first met Felt by chance in 1970, when Woodward was a Navy lieutenant in his mid-twenties who was dispatched to deliver a package to the White House's West Wing. Felt arrived soon after, for a separate appointment, and sat next to Woodward in the waiting room. Woodward struck up a conversation, eventually learning of Felt's position in the upper echelon of the FBI. Woodward, who was about to get out of the Navy at the time and was unsure about his future direction in life, became determined to use Felt as a mentor and career advisor, and so he got Felt's phone number and kept in touch with him.

After deciding to try a career as a reporter, Woodward eventually joined the Washington Post in August, 1971. Felt, who Woodward writes, had long had a dim view of the Nixon Administration, began passing pieces of information to Woodward, although he insisted that Woodward keep the FBI and Justice Department out of anything he wrote based on the information. The first time Woodward used information from Felt in a Washington Post story was in mid-May 1972, a month before the Watergate burglary, when Woodward was reporting on the man who had attempted to assassinate Presidential candidate George C. Wallace of Alabama; Nixon had put Felt in charge of investigating the would-be assassin. A month later, just days after the Watergate break-in, Woodward would call Felt at his office, marking the first time Woodward spoke with Felt about Watergate.

Commenting on Felt's motivations for serving as his "Deep Throat" source, Woodward wrote, "Felt believed he was protecting the bureau by finding a way, clandestine as it was, to push some of the information from the FBI interviews and files out to the public, to help build public and political pressure to make Nixon and his people answerable. He had nothing but contempt for the Nixon White House and their efforts to manipulate the Bureau for political reasons."

In 1980, Felt himself was convicted of ordering illegal break-ins at the homes of Weathermen suspects, and their families. Richard Nixon testified on his behalf. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Felt, and the conviction was subsequently expunged from the record.

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