Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Not quite so deep anymore

Deep Throat has revealed himself. After 30+ years, those parking garage meetings, heavy with drama and cigarette smoke, have become part of the nation’s political/cultural/historical memory, so it will be interesting to see how this news plays out. Will the Sean Hannitys of the world pillory him? Will the mainstream media recall the romantic era when anonymous sources were reliable and actually led to earth-shaking stories?

With the media under siege for its sourcing methods (but principally for having the temerity to question the current regime), the Deep Throat saga is a reminder that our political system could not function without anonymous sources to provide a check on abuses of power. Sometimes, protecting anonymity is the only way to get to the truth.

The VF article contains a lot of information about Bob Woodward's ongoing friendship with Felt, which seems to buttress the claim. But then again, maybe we're back in the hall of mirrors (courtesy Romenesko letters):

W. Mark Felt's quote, "I'm the one they used to call Deep Throat" is certainly true. At least a dozen Watergate sleuths have called Felt by that name since 1974. That said, I hope Vanity Fair explains to the public in their article that Mr. Felt has not been lucid for many years, having experienced strokes and reportedly is now, at 91, suffering from multiple ailments that hamper his mental abilities. For example, when interviewed by Ron Kessler a few years ago, Felt had a hard time recalling who Bob Woodward was.

Felt's daughter says, "We could make at least enough money to pay some bills...let's do it for the family." There was indeed a time when Felt could have grabbed a small fortune by revealing himself as DT. Speeches at $40,000 a pop, a tell-all book, etc. were all possible for decades. Unfortunately that opportunity, considering his health, has probably passed. Felt's own memoir, written in 1979, contained his denial of being DT and suggested that anyone in the FBI who would reveal such information was just short of being a traitor. He has denied to reporter after reporter that he was DT. That he should change at the urging of his family when in such ill health is suspect.

Final update:
The Washington Post confirms it. Felt's the guy.