The Final Word on Deep Throat (So Far)

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Aug. 9 1999 5:41 PM

The Final Word on Deep Throat (So Far)

Today is the 25th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation speech. (To watch Nixon saying, "Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow," click here. You can hear it over and over by clicking repeatedly.) Chatterbox decided to celebrate Nixon Resignation Day by phoning W. Mark Felt, the former FBI official whom Richard Nixon and Nora Ephron and various other people believe to have been Deep Throat. Chatterbox, strongly influenced by a 1992 James Mann piece in the Atlantic Monthly (which is finally online; click here to read it) has himself been fairly pro-Felt lately, and subscribes to Mann's thesis that if it wasn't Felt, it was someone else at the FBI. (See "Deep Throat: The Game Is Afoot"; "Another Bulletin From the Deep Throat Desk"; "Deep Throat Revealed (One Last Time)"; and "Deep Throat Revealed (Again).")

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Earlier today, when Chatterbox first attempted to phone Felt (now an octogenarian living in California with his daughter Joan), he got an answering machine. "If you'd like to leave a message for Joan, Rob, Nick, or Deep Throat," it said, "you may do so after the beep." Naturally, Chatterbox got a little excited when he heard this. But when Chatterbox phoned back a little later, Joan Felt said it was a gag message that she had put on her phone last night after having a bottle of wine with some friends, and that this morning she'd thought better of it and taken it off. Joan said she really has no idea whether her father is Deep Throat, but that he's told her he isn't. "He hasn't revealed it to anybody if it's true," she said. Hmm, Chatterbox thought. A non-denial denial from the daughter.

Then Mark Felt came on the line. Chatterbox schmoozed Felt a bit. Does he get asked a lot by reporters whether he's Deep Throat?

Yes. A couple of times so far this week.

Are you Deep Throat?

The answer to that is yes and no. I'm the person that they're talking about. [Chatterbox was initially tantalized by this, but quickly realized Felt meant "I'm the Mark Felt who worked at the FBI in 1972."] I was involved very deeply in all that ... went on. But I'm not guilty of disclosure, leaking it to the press, or anything like that.

Did Felt arrange to leak to Woodward through an intermediary? "No." Does Felt agree with Mann that the leaker was someone from the FBI? Felt hasn't read the Mann piece, "but I don't think so. It's just not logical ... The nature of the information that the paper was printing would have to have come from more than one source."

Chatterbox, trying not to plead, asked Felt if there were any other reason, aside from Felt's actually not being Deep Throat, that might impel him to deny he was Deep Throat.

No, Felt said. There wasn't.

The conversation seemed to be winding down. Chatterbox asked Felt whether it was annoying to be asked over and over again by various people whether he was Deep Throat. "It gets to be very provoking," he said. Does he find it irritating? "Yes."

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