I am Deep Throat.

I am Deep Throat.

I am Deep Throat.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
June 7 2005 7:22 PM

I Am Deep Throat

Posties and Slatesters get into the confessional spirit.

Mark Felt's confession that he was Deep Throat, as reported in Vanity Fair, has definitely started something at the Washington Post. Like weepy Holy Rollers at a tent meeting, Watergate-era Posties are rushing forward to share their own dark secrets.

Richard Cohen, in a June 1 column, confessed that his career-making scoops about the federal bribery investigation of Vice President Spiro "Nolo Contendere" Agnew owed a heavy debt to one Bob Woodward, who'd been tipped by Felt. Praaayze Jezuss-uh!

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Then Woodward, in his June 2 Deep Throat memoir, fessed up to a youthful "angst and sense of drift" and to being "very needy," when, as a young naval officer, he'd drafted Mark Felt to be his Washington mentor. Praaayze Jezuss-uh!

Implicitly, Woodward also confessed, by confirming Felt was Deep Throat, that he'd told a few fibs along the way to protect Felt's identity. Praaayze Jezuss-uh!

Then Sally Quinn, in a June 3 Style section piece, confessed that the late Sen. John Tower had once "attempted to sexually assault me when I was 18 and a college freshman," but that, after Tower's long history of boozing and groping became an issue during his Senate confirmation hearings for defense secretary—a job he was ultimately denied—Quinn flatly refused to confirm the story to FBI investigators. Praaayze Jezuss-uh!

I got the spirit-uh! I got the spirit-uh within me-uh! Heal!

Now that Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co., I feel that it would be bad manners to lurk in the shadows of the tabernacle while my corporate brethren step into the spotlight to purge themselves of sin. So I have composed a list of potential journalistic sins and asked my fellow Slate sters whether they, too, have strayed. Click here to see the results.

Discussion. Jack Shafer, Slate's media critic, obviously chose the right beat: He's an appalling goody-two-shoes, at least for the purposes of this survey. (He assures me that he's done all sorts of terrible things in his life; they just don't happen to be these terrible things.) Keeping a source's identity secret in order to make that source sound more important is high up on the list of sins journalists are presumed by the laity to commit routinely, but in fact it isn't routine at all, and that's borne out by these results. (I have my doubts even Saletan's done it; I think he's just trying to impress us with his worldliness.) Pluralizing individual sources is, or used to be, the much more common sin, and I'm pleased to see that within our little group, only Saletan's done that (and, to repeat my earlier caveat, even he may be exaggerating his lack of scruples to sound like a roué).

In any event, we now wash ourselves clean. Praaayze Jezuss-uh!