Deep Throat Comes ... Forward

Deep Throat Comes ... Forward

Deep Throat Comes ... Forward

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 1 2005 3:14 AM

Deep Throat Comes ... Forward

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and certainly the Washington Postlead with confirmation that Deep Throat—the WP source that helped unravel Watergate and topple President Nixon—was Mark Felt, the then FBI's No. 2 man. Vanity Fair got the ball rolling yesterday with an article in which Felt seems to have copped to the role. The New York Timesgoes above the fold with Felt but leads with the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling voiding accounting firm Arthur Andersen's conviction for shredding Enron papers. The justices whapped the case's original judge, who had declined to tell jurors that in order for there to be a conviction company officials had to have knowingly violated the law, which might not have happened. The change isn't going to matter much to Andersen now. Once home to 28,000 people, it now has a staff of about 200. The Times' Kurt Eichenwald has an analysis giving a particularly clear rundown on the question of intent. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online) with President Bush's press conference, during which he ... didn't really make any news. The Journal focuses on the president reiterating his support for the proposed Central American trade pact.

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were initially taken by surprise by Felt's revelation and declined to comment. Felt, 91, is in poor health, and Woodward was apparently concerned about his competency. But by late afternoon, after Felt made a quick appearance in front of reporters, the Post copped to the connection.

Advertisement

"The thing that stuns me is that the goddamn secret has lasted this long," said former Post editor Ben Bradlee, the only person Woodstein are known to have let in on the secret. The NYT has a solid, almost tick-tock on the media angle. "I had no idea [the story] was coming." said one WP editor.

Felt was apparently motivated to blab by some mix of 1) his disgust at the White House's shenanigans and 2) his loyalty to the FBI, whose investigation into Watergate the White House was tracking and trying to undermine.

Of course, as everybody notes, Watergate wasn't anything near a single-source story. "When we wrote the book, we didn't think his role would achieve such mythical dimensions," said Bernstein. "You see there that Felt/Deep Throat largely confirmed information we had already gotten from other sources."

As for why Felt hadn't come forward before, he was a law-and-order man and seems to have been conflicted about leaking. He also has had a few image issues himself. Felt was convicted in 1980 of authorizing illegal break-ins of suspected Weather Underground militants. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan. Slate's Tim Noah, who long pointed to Felt before he started to doubt himself, notices that Woodward engaged in some small-bore misdirection or, shall we say, lying.

Advertisement

Felt had also long denied he was Deep Throat. "I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or to anyone else!" he wrote in his memoir.

The NYT says inside that with food aid to North Korea drying up, Pyongyang is again flirting with a famine. One aid official (on a campaign to drum up concern?) said there will be enough food to feed only 1.5 million people this summer, compared with 6.5 million this past spring. The paper doesn't explain why the aid is drying up. But the Journal reported a few weeks ago that the U.S. has decided to halt nearly all food shipments, purportedly because it's concerned about the lack of oversight. The move comes as the U.S. seems to be trying to further isolate Pyongyang.

Knight Ridder has U.S. commanders complaining on the record about the lack of troops in the west of Iraq. "There's no way 400 people can cover that much ground," said one major whose regiment is responsible for a 10,000-square-mile area. The LAT and WP have mentioned the lack of troops but, as TP recalls, only in passing.

A week after the heavy rumors of Abu Musab Zarqawi's impending demise, the NYT says American spooks think that the "firm toned" voice heard in a recent tape denying the rumors is indeed that of Zarqawi.

The NYT fronts the news that, as expected, French President Chirac canned Prime Minister Raffarin. He was replaced by Dominique de Villepin, the former foreign minister, best-known on this side of the Atlantic for his lobbying against the invasion of Iraq. The State Department gave de Villepin a rousing a welcome. "We all know that when he was foreign minister, we had a variety of actions with him," said a spokesman. "It's up to the French government to decide who they want in their government."