Timothy Noah: Deep Throat was not a good man. It didn't matte

Roundup: Talking About History

Mark Felt, who died at 95 on Dec. 18, was ashamed of being Deep Throat. I know this because he told me so six years before he revealed his secret in Vanity Fair.

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."...
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