Timothy Noah: Deep Throat was not a good man. It didn't matteRoundup: Talking About History
In July 1999, David Daley of the Hartford Courant tracked Felt down in Santa Rosa, Calif. Felt, the former second-ranking official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had long seemed—to me and many others—the most logical candidate for Deep Throat, Bob Woodward's unnamed garage-dwelling source, made famous in All the President's Men, the 1974 best-seller that Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote about breaking the Watergate story. (Hal Holbrook played him in the movie.) Having recently rekindled a long-standing interest in this unsolved mystery, I decided to give Felt a call. The retired G-man wasted no time in telling me that, no, he wasn't Deep Throat, a denial he'd made a thousand times before (and to Daley mere days earlier). I tested his patience by rephrasing the question in various ways (Did he leak through an intermediary? Was Deep Throat someone else in the FBI?). I even asked him whether he found it annoying to be asked about this over and over. (Yes, he answered, with some heat.)
Finally I asked: Suppose you were Deep Throat. Would that be so terrible?
"It would be terrible," Felt replied. "This would completely undermine the reputation that you might have as a loyal, logical employee of the FBI. It just wouldn't fit at all."
But a lot of people thought Deep Throat was a hero for getting the truth out about Richard Nixon's crimes in the White House.
"That's not my view at all," he said. "It would be contrary to my responsibility as a loyal employee of the FBI to leak information."...