Deep Throat

The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat by Bob Woodward

Last week the world should have learned the answer to one of the best-kept secrets in Washington, D.C. history: the identity of Deep Throat. But the cat was let out of the bag early: in 2005, W. Mark Felt himself revealed that he had been Bob Woodward’s secret source during the Watergate investigation. When I woke on December 19 to learn that Mark Felt had died the previous day, it was strange to think of the news day this would be, if he hadn’t told the news during his living days. When I first read All the President’s Men as a freshman in college, two things happened: I was instantly turned into a political science major, and I actually prayed I would someday learn the identity of Deep Throat. Prayer answered. Bob Woodward has admitted to being stunned when he learned that Felt revealed that he was Deep Throat; Woodward had believed he would be the person to spill the news only upon Felt’s death. I have to confess: I felt a little bit sorry for Woodward, getting scooped by his own source.

The book The Secret Man was released very soon after Felt’s announcement, because Woodward had written it a couple of years earlier and then locked it up. This book is absolutely fascinating: we see the story from the inside—how Woodward met Felt (in the White House, of all places), the details of their meetings, how Woodward kept the secret of “my friend” for so many years, how he had a falling-out of sorts with Felt, and how, in 2000, he communicated with Felt for the first time in decades. The single fact that most tantalized me was the address of the parking garage where they met: 1401 Wilson Boulevard/1820 North Nash Street in Rosslyn, VA. The other amazing revelation is that Felt ordered an investigation into the leak of Watergate details from FBI files—in a brilliant CYA move.

In a manic bout of Watergate Googling, I came across this delightful find: images of Woodward’s notes after each meeting with Felt on the web site of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, which archives the Woodward and Bernstein Watergate papers.

So here’s my question: Is “The Secret Man” Mark Felt—or is it Bob Woodward himself?