Was Fred Fielding Deep Throat? Part 3.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
May 13 2003 5:35 PM

Was Fred Fielding Deep Throat? Part 3

Reagan's personnel director: "I've never talked to Woodward in my life."

Former Nixon White House counsels John Dean and Leonard Garment claim that before their former deputy, Fred Fielding, was appointed counsel to the Reagan White House, Bob Woodward cleared the way. Woodward did so, they say, by stating that Fielding was not Deep Throat. If Dean and Garment are right, then Reagan's first personnel director, E. Pendleton James (who, coincidentally, worked closely with Fielding throughout the transition that preceded Reagan's inauguration) ought to know about it. But he doesn't. "I've never talked to Woodward in my life," James told Chatterbox.

Dean and Garment both source their stories about Woodward's papal blessing to Fielding. (Curiously, although both men know Woodward fairly well, neither has ever asked him to verify Fielding's claim. Woodward and Fielding both decline to discuss the matter with Chatterbox.) If it could be shown that Woodward never gave Fielding his papal blessing, then Fielding would be caught out in a bizarre and utterly uncharacteristic lie to two old friends (see "Was Fred Fielding Deep Throat? Part 2"). That, in turn, would put us very, very close to proving that Fielding is Deep Throat, as Bill Gaines and his journalism students at the University of Illinois allege. Why, after all, would an innocent man lie to clear his name?

Conceivably, Woodward might have bypassed personnel chief James and had a confidential chat with someone in Reagan's "troika" of top advisers: Ed Meese, Michael Deaver, and James Baker. But at least two of the three remember no such mission of mercy by Woodward. "I can't recall anything like that," Meese told Chatterbox, "and I think that I probably would remember." Deaver conveyed through an assistant that he didn't recall it, either. He suggested I try Baker. Baker, alas, refused to take my call and wouldn't allow me to relay the question via his secretary. (She suggested I try back in a couple of weeks.) Chatterbox has no idea why.

Chatterbox ran all this by Dean and Garment. "I don't know what to say," Dean said. "I'm surprised to hear that none of these people can confirm that Fielding had been cleared by Woodward." Garment said he could imagine that Fielding might have lied to him about Woodward even if he weren't Deep Throat, simply to quiet any possible damaging suspicion. But that sounds pretty rococo to Chatterbox.

If all three members of Reagan's troika and Reagan's personnel director were found to be unaware that Woodward cleared Fielding, Chatterbox would take that as conclusive proof that Woodward never cleared Fielding. As things stand now, the chances that Fielding told Garment and Dean the truth about Woodward are vanishingly small, and the likelihood that Fielding was Deep Throat is getting pretty big. Care to clear this up, Mr. Baker?

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Resigns

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Sports Show by and About Women

Trending News Channel
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  News & Politics
Crime
Oct. 1 2014 4:15 PM The Trials of White Boy Rick A Detroit crime legend, the FBI, and the ugliness of the war on drugs.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 3:02 PM The Best Show of the Summer Is Getting a Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 4:26 PM How to Measure the Value of Your Personal Data in Cookies: A Slate Guide
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.