Deep Throat was piv­otal to Nixon’s down­fall.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - nixon­land@gmail.com Rick Perlstein is a his­to­rian and the au­thor of “Nixon­land: The Rise of a Pres­i­dent and the Frac­tur­ing of Amer­ica” and “The In­vis­i­ble Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Rea­gan.”

The role of Deep Throat — the pseu­do­nym of FBI agent Mark Felt, who served as an anony­mous source for Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter Bob Wood­ward dur­ing the scan­dal’s un­fold­ing — is of­ten dra­ma­tized in Hol­ly­wood de­pic­tions of Water­gate, and head­lines to this day in­sist on his im­por­tance in Nixon’s un­do­ing. The Guardian called him “the man who brought down Nixon,” and Van­ity Fair sim­i­larly la­beled him the man who “brought down the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

But by the time in 2005 that Deep Throat was re­vealed to be Felt — an FBI of­fi­cial, not a White House in­sider — peo­ple should have known bet­ter. Be­cause Felt had no ac­cess to the in­ner work­ings of the White House, he was not feed­ing Wood­ward new in­for­ma­tion but merely hints about what the bureau’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion had un­cov­ered, and in many cases, what the jour­nal­ists re­port­ing the Water­gate story al­ready knew. In­deed, when Wood­ward and his part­ner Carl Bern­stein wrote the book “All the Pres­i­dent’s Men,” they were sur­prised, per Bern­stein, at the mys­tique that de­vel­oped around Felt’s role. “We didn’t think his role would achieve such myth­i­cal di­men­sions,” Bern­stein said in a 2005 in­ter­view. “You see there that Felt/Deep Throat largely con­firmed in­for­ma­tion we had al­ready got­ten from other sources.”

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