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Deep Throat

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Historical Importance of Deep Throat:

Deep Throat was the informant who gave Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein information that helped to expose the Nixon administration's role in the Watergate Scandal.

Dates:

1972 -- 1973

Also Known As:

W. Mark Felt (August 17, 1913 – December 18, 2008)

Overview of Deep Throat:

After the June 17, 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C., Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein began investigating ties between the break-in and the Nixon administration. As part of their research, Woodward and Bernstein used an informant who was able to substantiate information they had already gathered as well as encourage their investigation into different areas.

Though the informant was willing to share information, he did not want to be identified nor even quoted anonymously. In journalism, sensitive information learned in this way is called "deep background" (more restrictive than information offered just "off the record"). The managing editor at The Washington Post, Howard Simons, created the informant's nickname by modifying the term "deep background" into a play-on-words reference to the popular 1972 pornographic movie Deep Throat.

In their 1974 book, All the President's Men, Woodward and Bernstein discuss their investigation and reveal that Deep Throat met them in a parking garage and in a bar to exchange information. A few times Deep Throat was contacted by phone, but Deep Throat quickly prohibited that form of contact because he was afraid the phone might be tapped. So the reporters and Deep Throat had to use signals to contact each other. If Woodward wanted to contact Deep Throat, he would move a potted plant that sat outside his apartment; if Deep Throat wanted to contact the reporters, he would leave a note inside the copy of The New York Times delivered to Woodward's front door.

The mysterious identity of Deep Throat piqued the curiosity of the nation and many began guessing the informant's true identity. Those that were guessing had little information to go on. Beside a few dates of clandestine meetings, Deep Throat worked in the executive branch of the government, smoked, and liked to drink Scotch.

For three decades, the true identity of "Deep Throat" remained an unsolved mystery that obsessed the nation. Over the decades, many names have been suggested but none had been confirmed. Some people even believed that Deep Throat was a composite of many people rather than a single individual. However, in May 2005, the true identity of Deep Throat was unmasked. The story broke in a Vanity Fair article, FBI official W. Mark Felt, 91-years old, announced that he was Deep Throat. Woodward and Bernstein, who had originally vowed to reveal the true identity of Deep Throat only after his death, did confirm that Felt was the real identity of Deep Throat.

Mark Felt passed away on December 18, 2008 at the age of 95.

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