Deep Throat Comes Out: Mark Felt

Vanity Fair has an exclusive with the fellow who claims he is the Deep Throat of Woodward and Bernstein “Watergate” fame.

I’m the Guy They Ised to Calld Deep Throat (Vanity Fair) PDF

After decades of hiding the truth, even from his family, W. Mark Felt, number two at the F.B.I. in the early 70s,
reveals himself to be the source who leaked secrets about Nixon’s Watergate cover-up, telling lawyer John D. O’Connor, the author of Vanity Fair’s exclusive, “I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat.”

O’Connor reports that Felt, aged 91, is a retiree living in Santa Rosa, California, with his daughter, Joan. After witnessing the
decline of Felt’s health and mental acuity, and after receiving his and Joan’s permission to reveal this information, O’Connor decided to write this article for Vanity Fair. The Felt family cooperated fully, providing old photographs for the story and agreeing to sit for portraits.

Felt’s family did not learn of this aspect of his past until 2002, when Felt’s close friend and frequent social companion Yvette La
Garde told Joan that Felt had confided to her he had indeed been Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s source. Joan confronted her father, who initially denied it, but after she explained La Garde’s disclosure Felt responded, “Since that’s the case, well, yes I am.” Then and there, she pleaded with him to announce his role immediately so that he could have some closure, and accolades, while he was still alive. Felt reluctantly agreed, then changed his mind. He seemed determined to take his secret with him to the grave.

Via email tip from the girlfriend. I haven’t seen any other coverage, so don’t have any insight as to whether this has been corroborated elsewhere.

Ex-FBI official says he’s ‘Deep Throat’ (MSNBC)

Felt said he was “only doing his duty” and did not seek to bring down Nixon over the cover-up of a break-in at Democratic Party offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward broke the story as Washington Post reporters, issued a statement neither denying nor confirming Felt’s claim. Bernstein stated he and Woodward would be keeping their pledge to reveal the source only once that person dies.

NBC News commentator Chris Matthews, who wrote a book about Watergate, said he wasn’t surprised, adding that Felt “has always been the leading suspect.” The last Felt boomlet was in 1999, when a high school senior in New York claimed that Bernstein’s son let the secret slip at a summer camp.

I’ve certainly heard a lot of names bandied around, as well as the “composite figure” theory. Felt’s isn’t a name that stuck in my mind, that’s for sure.

I’ll be in meetings the rest of the day and am attending a Braves-Nats game this evening but there’s sure to be lots of coverage of this one around the Blogosphere. Memorandum has the compilation of those hitting the MSNBC story.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    From what I’m hearing, Woodward is refusing to confirm, citing the “duty to our sources, including Deep Throat.” Unless he’s got some underhanded reason for putting it that way (Rush thinks Woodward wants the big revelation story, but I’m skeptical), it would seem to suggest Felt isn’t the guy.

  2. Mark says:

    I think Felt makes perfect sense. Rememeber some time ago when Ben Bradlee (or was it Bernstein?) said that Deep Throat was sick in a California hosiptal – and the obit was ready to go? Well, Felt is 91 and lives in CA – the scenario seems plausible to me.

  3. Fred Boness says:

    My first thought was who cares? The press has only two stories; Vietnam and Watergate. That’s the entire story template set for a generation of reporters. How many stories have had “gate” appended to them over the last thirty years? That won’t change until this generation of reporters dies off.

  4. Anderson says:

    I’m with McGehee that it makes no sense for Bernstein & Woodward to “respect their source” against their source’s express public statement. On the other hand, they may just be jerks. It’s been suggested before.

  5. Terry says:

    I would call him anything other than a hero as his family puts it. Nixon with his faults was the Hero and a better president than any democratic president. If the media put a fraction of the scandles Democratic presidents and officals have done into the spotlight as they did this there wouldn’t be enough paper to print them on. The one sided Democratic media is a disgrace and a curse to this country. If they want to print things print the facts and about the democrats both equally and not one sided or keep your thoughts and perverted comments to yourself.

  6. dw says:

    Terry, what color is the sky in your world?

  7. joby says:

    quote: “Nixon was the hero… keep your thoughts and perverted comments to yourself”

    oh boy…

    anyways, it’s funny to hear Liddy, Buchanan, and the others talking about Felt. Liddy especially, since as far as i know, if he and his boys hadn’t partaken in a bit of shadiness, Deepthroat kind of, sort of, wouldn’t even had existed.

  8. John B. Barrett says:

    W. Mark Felt is a great American hero. Prior to J. Edgar Hoover’s death, Nixon had unsuccessfully tried to use the FBI as his personal political police. From the formation of the FBI, only two Presidents, Nixon and Kennedy, had tried to use the FBI in this manner. Mr. Hoover stopped Kennedy and, until his death, stopped Nixon. (A fact acknowledged by Jack Anderson, who was, perhaps, Mr. Hoover’s greatest detractor.)

    After Mr. Hoover died, Nixon named L. Patrick Grey as Director of the FBI. Grey was a political hack who would do Nixon’s bidding. Mark Felt as the No. 2 man in the FBI and the top career FBI man, was loyal to Mr. Hoover’s legacy and to the FBI. However, unlike Mr. Hoover, Mark Felt did not have the position, popularity or political power to just tell Nixon “no.” Lacking other means, Mark Felt simply did what he had to do to keep Nixon from misusing the FBI.

    Pat Buchanan’s comments have been way off base. He has to have known that this was a fight between Nixon, who was intent on using the FBI for political gain, and Mr. Hoover and Mark Felt, who were intent on stopping him. It is sophistry to suggest that Felt only went to Woodward out of spite for not being chosen as Mr. Hoover’s successor.

    Comments about Felt authorizing wiretaps of “Vietnam War protestors” are also way off base. They are also offensive. The wiretaps were on members of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground was a terrorist off-shoot of the SDS, which bombed buildings and killed people. The political and legal environment made it very difficult to track and infiltrate such groups, and it had been only a few years since wiretaps did not require a court order. My uncle was an FBI agent in Soviet Counter-Intelligence at that time, and my father, as a ex-agent, received materials from the FBI and the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, which I read. I can tell you that the Weather Underground also had strong Soviet ties and a commitment to overthrow the United States Government.

    Some may disagree with Mark Felt’s tactics, but it is wrong to impugn his motives in the wiretaps. I would also suggest that what Felt did was absolutely necessary to protect the country from more terrorist bombings. I would also note that the convictions were on appeal when President Reagan pardoned him. There is some doubt as to whether the convictions would have been upheld.

    Mark Felt’s book is very enlightening in this matter. In addition, as noted, I am from an FBI family. My father is an ex-agent and my uncle was an agent in Washington, D.C. at the time all of this occurred.

  9. Hugh Manatee says:

    Richard Nixon didn’t resign because of the actions of Mark Felt. Richard Nixon resigned because of the actions of Richard Nixon and his cronies, reported by Mark Felt. And by whistle-blowing, Felt likely demonstrated why Nixon passed him over to replace J. Edgar Hoover as director at the FBI–he had too much integrity to play White House stooge. He wouldn’t “play ball.”