W. Mark Felt, the FBI informant who help Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein blow President Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal wide open, has died.
Felt, who during the investigation by Woodward and Bernstein was nicknamed “Deep Throat” after a 1972 pornographic movie because he was providing deep background information on the condition of anonymity, died Dec. 18 in Santa Rosa, Calif. after suffering from congestive heart failure.
As an FBI second-in-command, some people thought Felt was a traitor for blowing the whistle on the crooked Nixon administration; however, others viewed him as a hero for helping save the country from corruption.
Felt came forward in a May 2005 Vanity Fair article.
The reason why Felt gave Woodward and Bernstein information has been debated, but Felt has said he wasn’t motivated by anger about being passed over for the FBI top spot after J. Edgar Hoover died.
Felt relayed information to Woodward, whom he met while Woodward was in the Navy, in very clandestine manners, which included signals that used a flower pot and hand-written notes on the pages of Woodward’s copy of The New York Times to say if a meeting was in order.
It has been reported that the Nixon administration suspected Felt as the leak to The Post, but no action was brought against Felt because of everything he knew and would reveal if he was reprimanded.
According to Associated Press reports, in 1978 Felt was “indicted on charges of authorizing FBI break-ins at homes associated with suspected bombers from the 1960s radical group the Weather Underground. President Ronald Reagan pardoned Felt in 1981 while the case was on appeal – a move applauded by Nixon.”
Through journalism classes, I learned about Felt, who I only knew as “Deep Throat.” He was an invaluable part of the investigative reporting conducted by Woodward and Bernstein.
Felt’s role was made very clear when I read “All The President’s Men” by Woodward and Bernstein, which is the book that chronicled the Watergate saga.
Felt was a good American who helped save the country.
As a journalist, I thank him for what he did for investigative journalism. He helped Woodward and Bernstein show the good journalism can do.