Another Bulletin From the Deep Throat Desk

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
July 26 1999 11:32 AM

Another Bulletin From the Deep Throat Desk

(Continued from Page 1)

Nixon: But my point is: Who's going to hire him?

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Dean: That's right.

Nixon: Let's face it.

Dean: He can't. He's--

Nixon: If he--the guy that does that can go out and, uh, you mean he's a--of course, he couldn't do it unless he had a guarantee from somebody like Time magazine saying, "Look, we'll give you a job for life." Then what do they do? They put him in a job for life, and everybody would treat him like a pariah. He's in a very dangerous situation. These guys you know--the informers, look what it did to [Whittaker] Chambers. ... They finished him.

Dean: Uh huh. Well, I think I, there's no--

Nixon: Either way, either way, the, the, the informer is not wanted in our society. Either way, that's the one thing people do sort of line up against. They--

Dean: That's right.

Nixon: They say, "Well, that son-of-a-bitch informed. I don't want him around." We wouldn't want him around, would we?

There's a lot going on in this exchange. As we now know, before the year was out Dean would do precisely what Nixon said Felt would never dare do--inform on Nixon--and so on one level Nixon was clearly trying to persuade Dean to keep mum. (That "We wouldn't want him around, would we?" is vintage Nixon, and it must have chilled Dean to the bone.) On a more elementary level, though, Nixon is trying to persuade both Dean and himself that Felt would never commit career suicide by blowing the whistle. That Nixon himself isn't entirely convinced is suggested by the fact that Nixon makes the point over and over, even dragging in Chambers and all but saying the man was a fool to turn in Alger Hiss. Nixon never entertains the possibility that Felt would do precisely what Limpert and Mann (and, subsequently, Nixon himself) believed Felt to have done: be an informer, but a secret informer, exacting the promise not of lifetime employment but of lifetime confidentiality that he was indeed Woodward's source.

Of course, Felt has always denied it.

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