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W. Mark Felt has died.
December 19, 2008 2:09 AM   Subscribe

The man who provided Bob Woodward with the critical leads on the story that eventually saw the resignation of Tricky Dick Nixon has died: W. Mark Felt, aka. Deep Throat, was 95.The NYT has a little feature on why he was such a big deal. Only in 2005 did Felt finally admit to being Deep Throat in a Vanity Fair article.

The Washington Post has an obit carrying Woodwards byline:

As the second-highest official in the FBI under longtime director J. Edgar Hoover and interim director L. Patrick Gray, Felt detested the Nixon administration's attempt to subvert the bureau's investigation into the complex of crimes and coverups known as the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon....
Felt, a dashing figure with a full head of silver hair, an authoritative bearing and a reputation as a tough taskmaster, adamantly denied over the years that he was Deep Throat, even though Nixon suspected him from the start.

(...)

Felt, who saw all the FBI investigative paperwork, was acquainted with Woodward from a chance meeting at the White House in 1969 when Woodward was still in the Navy.
posted by krautland (31 comments total)

 
A flawed man, but a true hero. And one who understood that it's the whistle blowers, not the corrupt crimials, who get punished.

Thanks you for saving our country, Mr. Felt.

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posted by orthogonality at 2:14 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


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(18.5 minutes of silence)
posted by mattdidthat at 2:23 AM on December 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


Felt and Nixon had a lot in common and should have been friends. Before coming out as Deep Throat, Felt was mainly famous for using his governmental powers to order a string of illegal and unconstitutional break-ins in order to intimidate and gather information on political opponents. He never expressed any regret for this blatant political corruption and was, like his nemesis, inappropriately pardoned by a none-too-bright Republican president. His career, like that of Nixon's, encapsulates the very worst aspects of of the very bad mid-20th-century American government, but he was a far better political infighter than Nixon and his victims were far less connected.
posted by stammer at 3:06 AM on December 19, 2008


You know, I honestly don't know if these kids today know that "Deep Throat" without Watergate has a totally different meaning.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:16 AM on December 19, 2008


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posted by oonh at 3:53 AM on December 19, 2008


You could say that he was finally eaten by Agnew.

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posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:06 AM on December 19, 2008


You know, I honestly don't know if these kids today know that "Deep Throat" without Watergate has a totally different meaning.

There's a Dick joke there. Somewhere.
posted by hal9k at 4:12 AM on December 19, 2008


(Expletive deleted)
posted by WPW at 4:27 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's a Dick joke there. Somewhere.

Nix on Dick jokes.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:28 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sigh. Thinking back on Watergate and Nixon's resignation, I can't help but be sad that the promise of those events, that is, that the President of the United States of America just was not going to be able to get away with crime, remains so unfulfilled today.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:30 AM on December 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


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posted by Jon_Evil at 4:35 AM on December 19, 2008


When I think back on Nixon and his crew I realize that the current administration is much worse than they were. I wish we had Democrats with backbone. Or a new Deep Throat.
posted by RussHy at 4:47 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or a new Deep Throat.

An informant is useless if the press aren't doing their jobs. And the working press is semi-useless without a party willing to do what is right rather than "get along".

(I say "semi" useless because if the press were working and the crimes egregious enough, the people may be inspiried to take matters into their own hands.)
posted by DU at 5:02 AM on December 19, 2008


An informant is useless if the press aren't doing their jobs.
it's not just the press, although they do make for a deserved whipping boy every now and then. there are journos out there that have an impact. think about the la times articles that ended up getting king/drew hospital closed or the informant-lead scandal around abu ghraib.

and then there are well-researched and well-informed articles and books that just lead nowhere because we prefer cute puppies and dancing starlets. woodward wrote scathingly about bush 43 and his administration, tim weiner tore the CIA a new one with 'legacy of ashes' and seymour hersh and ken auletta still write riveting pieces for the new yorker.
posted by krautland at 5:35 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


An informant is useless if the press aren't doing their jobs.


To be fair, the press has lost a lot of funding over the decades and simply does not have the resources any more to do this sort of investigation: now when a politician spouts egregious nonsense, it's Stewart and Colbert who call him or her on it.

In the context of 1974, it's as if the story had not been broken by Woodward and Bernstein at The Washington Post but instead by Johnny Carson. Maybe Carson and Sammy Davis Jr. could have conducted the analysis, and Johnny would have had to ask Jim Fowler to come back the following night.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:45 AM on December 19, 2008


\O/
posted by AloneOssifer at 5:54 AM on December 19, 2008


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posted by lunit at 6:05 AM on December 19, 2008


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(18.5 minutes of silence)


Hey that's just enough time to play Alice's Restaurant.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:24 AM on December 19, 2008


 
posted by middleclasstool at 6:27 AM on December 19, 2008


woodward wrote scathingly about bush 43 and his administration

Not really.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:33 AM on December 19, 2008


Not really.

The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008

from the New Yorker review: This is Woodward's fourth book about Bush as a war President, and, if the previous one, State of Denial, might have been called ?Iraq: The Lost Years, the latest is all about rehab. Again and again, officials, diplomats, and military men stage interventions, to make the President address the impending collapse of his war. Woodward is maddened by Bushs impassivity (Sure would be nice if this got better, the President tells Condoleezza Rice), and his lack of honesty with the public. Claiming that the Iraq surge has got credit that should have gone to other factors (including a secret program whose details he cant divulge), Woodward finds scant evidence that the Administration has a plan to exploit the recent fall in violence to achieve a political settlement or victory a term that, when pressed, the President is unable to define.

State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III

Publishers Weekly: In the third volume exploring the political carnage and bureaucratic infighting prompted by the September 11 attacks, legendary investigative journalist Woodward (Bush at War, Plan of Attack) dissects the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq. The picture isn't a pretty one, and Woodward's disarming, matter-of-fact prose makes his page-turning account more powerful still. The incompetence and arrogance on display in the highest levels of the executive branch is as stunning-and as unsettling-as the dismay voiced by civilians and soldiers who endeavor and fail to open the administration's eyes to the failures in Iraq, from the complex security challenges to simple logistical matters like securing sufficient translators. Unable to manage the war they unleashed, the principals-President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and national security advisor, later Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice-fare poorly here. Many of the charges are familiar-the president lacks inquisitiveness, the vice president is obsessed with WMD, Rice is "the worst security advisor in modern times"-but gel anew in the light of Woodward's explication. The breakout star of this disturbing spectacle is Rumsfeld, who presides over the conflict with a supreme self confidence that literally leaves Woodward at a loss for words. If journalism is the first page of history, then Woodward's opus will be required reading for any would-be historians of the time.
posted by krautland at 6:46 AM on December 19, 2008


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posted by Halloween Jack at 6:48 AM on December 19, 2008


Those two books are his most recent works, written and released after it was safe for Woodward to do so.

In any case, since Watergate he has been a mostly ineffectual journalist, trading on his reputation to be part of the Washington machine; his bit part in the Plame scandal is a notable and recent example, in this regard.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:07 AM on December 19, 2008


released after it was safe for Woodward to do so
so?

he has been a mostly ineffectual journalist
agreed. that's kind of what I was moaning about.
posted by krautland at 7:59 AM on December 19, 2008


In 1980, Felt was convicted of the felony of violating the civil rights of people thought to be associated with members of the Weather Underground by ordering FBI agents to search their homes as part of an attempt to prevent bombings.

So Obama set Mark Felt up to free Bill Ayers then gave him the cancer to keep him quiet? That guy is devious.
posted by electroboy at 8:04 AM on December 19, 2008


All of the above, and probably below. But what about the conflicting, totally opposite statements?? Yes. Especially those.

You will be remembered, Mr. Anti-Hero--Hero forged in the pond scum of Safe-Unsafe Powerful-Impotent Media.




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posted by Sweetdefenestration at 9:01 AM on December 19, 2008


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posted by Mental Wimp at 11:15 AM on December 19, 2008


Man, and here all along I thougt that was Linda Lovelace. I'll say one thing, that guy had talent (or at least an exceptionaly weak gag reflex)!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


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Dick Nixon before he dicks you.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 4:02 PM on December 19, 2008


i wasn't aware of felt's pedigree, stammer, so thanks for the info. it's not hard to believe, though. having spent just a short bit of time in the news biz, i learned that pretty much nothing gets published that *someone* doesn't want out there. these stories aren't ferreted out--they come from people who are interested in self promotion or personal gain. the journalistic sleuthing comes in by following up & verifying whatever the initial 'tip' might be. NOT a slam on woodward & bernstein--they were my idols.
whatever mr. felt's motives were, in this case, i say the end justified the means. or perhaps: the outcome washes a little bit of stink off the weasel.

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posted by msconduct at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2008


Could We Uncover Watergate Today?
posted by homunculus at 10:21 PM on December 19, 2008


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