Was Deep Throat actually outed in 1976?

Friday, 3 June, 2005

Charles Richardson writes:

The search for Deep Throat went on for so long that some Watergate aficionados wondered whether the source was really all he was made out to be – or whether Woodward and Bernstein had used some poetic licence to exaggerate Deep Throat’s importance and embellish the details of their meetings.

But no, Mark Felt was indeed a major player, number two at the FBI and privy to the whole Watergate investigation. And, as this morning’s papers report here, he had a background in espionage, which explains some of the outlandish routines that he insisted on. (How did he get those messages into Woodward’s New York Times?)

It’s also true that Felt has been a suspect before. The earliest speculation I’ve found in print is by George V Higgins in The Friends of Richard Nixon (1976: Ballantine Books, New York). After taking the reader through the famous “smoking gun” tape of 23 June 1972 (now conveniently available at the Nixon archives), he reaches the point where Bob Haldeman says that FBI head Pat Gray will “call Mark Felt in, and the two of them — and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because he’s ambitious …”

Higgins then comments (p147): “Haldeman didn’t know much about Mark Felt, either: Mark Felt knows more reporters than most reporters do, and there are those who
think he had a Washington Post alias borrowed from a dirty movie.” How right he was.