FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Is "Deep Throat" a Fictoid?

On June 1, 2005, Mark W. Felt Jr., a retired FBI official, claimed that he was “Deep Throat,” and he certainly was in a position to be a source for Bob Woodward (and many other reporters) during the Watergate era. Thirty years ago, in my book Between Fact and Fiction (1975), I wrote about Deep Throat,

“The prosecutors at the Department of Justice now believe the mysterious source was probably Mark W. Felt, Jr, who was then an associate deputy director, because one statement the reporters attribute to Deep throat could only have been made by Felt.”

There were, similar stories in the Los Angeles Times by Jack Nelson, some published prior to Woodward and Bernstein’s stories in the Washington Post, so presumably Felt had other outlets.

The traceable information concerned data from FBI 302 files that sent Woodward and Bernstein after Donald Segretti, which turned out to be, if not a wild goose chase, irrelevant to the Watergate crime. The prosecutors assumed that the reason Felt provided this information was, as I wrote in 1975, “to get rid of [L. Patrick] Gray,” who then headed the FBI. Now that Woodward and Felt have confirmed this fact, it is no longer an issue that Felt was a source. The issue remains, however, is Felt the source described in Woodward’s book as Deep Throat– or is Felt part of a composite character.

Consider, for example, that Woodward’s Deep Throat character tells him that a Nixon tape had been found to have “deliberate erasures”. Woodward published that report in the Washington Post November 8, 1973. But in November 1973, according to records examined by Nixon’s biographer Jonathan Aitken, only six people knew about the problem in the tape– Richard Nixon; Rose Mary Woods (Nixon’s personal secretary); Alexander Haig (The White House chief of staff); Haig’s deputy, Major General John C Bennett and two trusted Nixon White House aides, Fred Buzhardt and Steve Bull. Felt– or for that matter anyone else in the FBI– was not privy to that information. If so, Felt cannot be the sole component of Deep Throat.

Part of the “mystery” enjoyed by Woodward is that there are no corroborative witnesses to any of these meetings between Woodward and Deep Throat (no more than there was a corroborative witness to Woodward’s putative death bed interview with CIA Director William Casey). Not even Woodward’s co-author, Carl Bernstein, was present at any of these meetings supposedly took place in an empty underground parking garage.

Woodward never mentioned Deep Throat in any of the newspaper stories he wrote in the Washington Post between 1972 and 1974. In these stories he consistently attributes his information to multiple sources. Consider, for example, his (and Bernstein’s) 1972 revelation that at least “50 people” who worked for the White House and the Nixon campaign were involved in spying and sabotage. In the Washington Post (October 10, 1972, p A1), he attributes the information to multiple “FBI reports.” In 1974, in All The President’s Men (p.135), he puts the exact same information in the mouth of Deep Throat. In the scene in the book, first, he tussles with Deep Throat on the floor of the underground garage at 3 AM, grabbing his arm, then Deep Throat tells him:”You can safely say that 50 people worked for the White House and the CRP to play games and spy and sabotage and gather information.”

It is not even clear how he can claim directly to quote Deep Throat — earlier in the book (p.71), Woodward says that he solemnly agreed “never to quote the man even as an anonymous source.” Even if Woodward was not concerned with such a demonstrable breach of his agreement, the book’s publisher, Simon &Schuster, and movie producer, Warner Bros. might have been concerned with the potential breach of contract exposure.

Deep Throat did not exist in the early versions of the book, according to Woodward’s own book agent. The agent, David Obst, explains “In the original draft of their book, Deep Throat was not mentioned. In the second draft he suddenly appeared and it was a better book for the addition, a much more exciting one.” Certainly, Woodward wrestling Deep Throat in a spooky garage is a more exciting scene than Woodward and Bernstein gleaning information from documents.

If so, Deep Throat– as a single source– was conjured up between the first and final draft and took the place of the less exciting multiple sources and documents. This is not to suggest Woodward did not have many real sources for his Washington Post reporting. But fusing them into a single composite character is the same operation novelists perform. A composite character, since he does not exist (and cannot sue) is fiction.

Finally, the fact-or-fiction issue is best illuminated by Woodward himself. He writes (page 71) that Deep Throat’s “identity was unknown to anyone else.” How could Woodward know whether or not Deep Throat ever spoke to anyone else?

Deep Throat might have been the Anonymous Source for those reporters, or any number of other reporters, who would not know that he was Woodward’s source as well. The only way Woodward could know with absolute certainty that Deep Throat could not possibly have spoken to anyone else is that Deep Throat is his own exclusive fictoid.

EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN’s new book is The Big Picture : The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood.

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 27, 2019
Kris Hermes
Syrian Refugee Terror Plot or Latest in Pattern of FBI-Manufactured Terrorism Cases?
Charles Pierson
Don’t Leave Nukes on the Shelf. Use Them!
Manuel García, Jr.
American Climate Change Policy: You Don’t Matter
Robert Hunziker
At 100, Gaia Faces its Biggest Challenges
Ramzy Baroud
The Day After: What if Israel Annexes the West Bank?
Peter Bolton
The Failed Venezuelan Coup and the Decline of US Hegemony
Thomas Knapp
One Cheer for Trump on Iran
Robert Lipsyte
Jockpocalypse: From the Ballpark to Team Trump
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson
When Trump Did the Right Thing…Twice
John W. Whitehead
Mass Arrests, Power Grabs and the Politics of Fear
Myles Hoenig
Voter Disenfranchisement in Toronto
Binoy Kampmark
The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin
Michael Galant
Time for a Global Minimum Wage
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How We Are All Climate Change Deniers
June 26, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The U.S.-Iran Imbroglio: Dangerous Lessons To Be Learned
Paul Street
Reflections and Correspondence at the Abyss
John Laforge
Trump’s Ministry of No Information
Paul Edwards
Fool Me Twice
Rob Hager
Warren and Sanders: Compare and Contrast
John Steppling
The Monkey’s Face
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A World of Shadows
Jaspal Kaur Sadhu Singh
Correcting a Colonial Injustice: The Return of the Chagos Islands to Its Natives
Binoy Kampmark
Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights
Jonah Raskin
Reflections on Abbie Hoffman and Joshua Furst’s Novel, Revolutionaries
Dave Chapman
The Hydroponic Threat to Organic Food
June 25, 2019
Rannie Amiri
Instigators of a Persian Gulf Crisis
Patrick Cockburn
Trump May Already be in Too Deep to Avoid War With Iran
Paul Tritschler
Hopeful Things
John Feffer
Deep Fakes: Will AI Swing the 2020 Election?
Binoy Kampmark
Bill Clinton in Kosovo
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Japanese Conjuncture
Edward Hunt
Is Mexico Winding Down or Winding up the Drug War?
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump’s Return to Full-Spectrum Dominance
Steve Kelly
Greed and Politics Should Not Drive Forest Policy
Stephen Carpa
Protecting the Great Burn
Colin Todhunter
‘Modified’: A Film About GMOs and the Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit
Martin Billheimer
The Gothic and the Idea of a ‘Real Elite’
Elliot Sperber
Send ICE to Hanford
June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail