W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. â€Deep Throatâ€
The big story. â€œDeep Throat,â€ the anonymous source that toppled the presidency of Richard Nixon, has finally been identified in Vanity Fair as former FBI second-in-command, W. Mark Felt. The Washington Post confirms that Felt is indeed the man who provided critical information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their quest to expose the sinister machinations of Richard Nixon and his subordinates in the Watergate scandal.
Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and editor Ben Bradlee, center, confirmed “Deep Throat’s” identity on Tuesday. (Katherine Frey/Washington Post)
The coverage of this revelation has been pretty predictable so far. The old lines are still drawn. There are those who continue their loyalty to President Nixon who feel that Felt is a “snake” (e.g. Pat Buchanan), and others showing an obvious antipathy for the former president laud Felt as a national hero (e.g. John Oâ€™Connor). Republican talking heads seem to favor Nixon over and against Felt, while Democrat talking heads tend to favor Felt over Nixon.
Yet I donâ€™t think an honest evaluation of the Watergate scandal allows us to be so blindly partisan. I am, quite frankly, disenchanted with the behavior of both President Nixon and Mark Felt. Both were duplicitous and told outright lies. For the Presidentâ€™s part, even if he did not direct the Watergate break-in (which is still up for debate, I suppose), he certainly tried to cover it up. The tapes reveal that much, as well as his not-too-infrequent ethnic slurs against Jewish people.
Felt also betrayed a trust when he leaked information to the reporters. Certainly he was under pressure, but he should have just resigned his position as second-in-command at the FBI, called a press conference, and told the world about the cover-up. Now that would have been heroic.
While I am thankful that the scandal finally came to light, I donâ€™t want to be forced into the position of endorsing the actions of either man. They both had feet of clay.