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Deep Throat and his Legacy

Deep Throat and his Legacy

In the pre-dawn hours of June 17, 1972, a security guard called police officers to the 
Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. He had discovered a taped-open door. Once inside, 
the officers found and arrested five males in a highly unusual burglary.

The burglary was unusual not only because it was inside the offices of the Democratic 
National Committee, but also because the men had uncommon burgling gear. In addition 
to standard lock-picks, they held: $2300 in hundred-dollar bills; a walkie-talkie; a police 
radio scanner; cameras with 40 rolls of film; and sophisticated covert recording devices. 
Evidently, they intended to eavesdrop on the Democratic organizers. 

Furthermore, the men seemed to have ties to the White House. At least one had been a 
Central Intelligence Agency employee, and two carried notebooks with a telephone 
number accompanied by the inscriptions “W. House” and “W.H.”


The Watergate Hotel scandal immediately attracted media attention. Washington Post 
reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein covered the story for two years. Their 
investigative reporting contributed to implicating Nixon and his associates of crimes far 
beyond burglarizing the DNC. It became evident that Nixon’s staff had also: authorized 
campaign fraud; ordered political espionage and sabotage; created improper tax audits; 
conducted large-scale illegal wiretapping; and maintained secret funds (laundered in 
Mexico!) to pay off the men involved in break-ins.   

But how did these young reporters, just embarking on their careers, gain access to top-
secret Nixon-incriminating information? Woodward and Bernstein claimed that their 
journalistic advantage came from a single anonymous informant, whom their editor 
dubbed “Deep Throat”.  But they vowed to not reveal their informant’s identity until he 
consented or passed away. 

Thus, for thirty years Americans pondered the mystery of Deep Throat. Hundreds of 
theories were put forth, and several were widely considered credible. One leading 
candidate was Nixon’s White House Associate Counsel Fred Fielding, who had obvious 
close connections to the uncovered information. He also seemed to be as high-level as 
Deep Throat; each obtained information before the FBI was privy. Another candidate was 
Diane Sawyer. She’d been hired by Nixon’s press secretary, and one Nixon supporter 
made an odd deathbed “confession” revealing Sawyer as the informant. George H. W. 
Bush, Henry Kissinger, and Pat Buchanan also made the list. And although the journalists 
claimed to have had a single source, some speculators suggested that Deep Throat was 
really a composite of multiple informants. 

At last, on May 31, 2005, Deep Throat publicly revealed his identity. Vanity Fair 
magazine revealed online that former Deputy Director of the FBI William Mark Felt, Sr., 
91 years old, was the secret Watergate whistleblower. Later that day, Woodward and 
Bernstein’s former managing editor confirmed the claim. 
A few days later, the Washington Post ran an article by Bob Woodward. Therein he 
described his pre-Watergate relationship with W. Mark Felt. Apparently, the two first met 
by chance in a White House waiting room, and Woodward kept Felt’s business card. 
Woodward consulted with Felt even before the Watergate scandal. 

Felt was instrumental in the Watergate scandal being understood. His information leaks 
exposed many misdeeds of Richard Nixon and members of his administration, ultimately 
bringing the first US presidential resignation. Administration members receiving prison 
terms included G. Gordon Liddy, who masterminded the first Watergate break-in; White 
House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman; chief counsel Charles Colson; and advisers John 
Ehrlichman and Egil Krogh.  

Felt’s leaking of information also changed the face of national politics. The Senate and 
House had elections shortly after the Watergate scandal was publicized. Voters were now 
thoroughly disillusioned with Nixon’s party, and they elected Democrats in large 
numbers. The Democrats gained five seats in the Senate and a significant forty-nine in 
the House of Representatives. 

As of 2007, Felt was residing in Santa Rosa, California.


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