Deep Throat identity takes the air out of balloon

June 02, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

ADMIT IT - was that about the biggest let-down you've had in years?

W. Mark Felt is Deep Throat?

Are you kidding me?

That old guy in the flannel shirt who was smiling and waving with his family on all the newscasts - that's the guy who helped topple a presidency?

That's the shadowy figure Bob Woodward was meeting in parking garages for info on Watergate, one of the most notorious political scandals in U.S. history?

Oh.

Well, OK.

If you say so.

But I think we can safely sum up, in a single word, the reaction of millions of my fellow Americans when the stunning news about Deep Throat's identity was first revealed.

And that reaction was: Who?

W. Mark Felt?

We waited 30 years for W. Mark Felt?

Look, I'll tell you how big a let-down this is.

It's like finding out the Lone Ranger was really a mild-mannered trail cook named Earl who happened to have a nice white horse.

It's like finding out the mysterious stranger who leaves cognac and roses at Edgar Allan Poe's grave every year is a Mrs. Francine R. Lutzer of Bel Air.

And then she's pictured on the news that evening in her housecoat.

It's like finding out Bigfoot is just a hairy local guy who likes to camp out occasionally.

Oh, I know, I know ... looking back on it now, it seems logical that W. Mark Felt was the secret source for much of the Watergate reporting.

After all, he was the No. 2 man at the FBI back in the early '70s, when the bureau and the White House distrusted each other immensely.

Which means he had the power, resources and inclination to inform on President Nixon and his "dirty tricks" operatives.

But still.

Let's face it, W. Mark Felt is not the sexy big name we were hoping for when Deep Throat's identity was revealed.

He's no Elliott Richardson, that's for sure.

He's no Hal Holbrook, either, for that matter.

Remember Hal Holbrook in the Watergate movie All the President's Men?

I keep picturing the parking garage scenes where Deep Throat meets with Woodward, played by Robert Redford.

From the shadows, Holbrook's Deep Throat dispenses sage advice on the course of the Watergate investigation, such as the immortal line "Follow the money."

Whereas, when you think of W. Mark Felt as Deep Throat, you're more apt to picture him saying to Woodward: "Geez, I've forgotten where I parked. Is this Level D or Level E?"

You know what this reminds me of, in terms of the let-down factor?

It reminds me of when you were a kid and one of your friends said: "Boy, I know a secret about Freddy that would just knock your socks off."

So naturally you begged your friend to tell you the secret about Freddy.

And of course he wouldn't, just so he could continue to torture you emotionally.

Weeks went by, maybe even months, and your friend kept saying: "Oh, you'd kill to know this thing about Freddy."

Finally you couldn't take it anymore.

So one day you marched up to your friend and said: "If you don't tell me the secret about Freddy, I'm going to kill you."

Which is when your friend said: "Well, OK, here it is. Freddy puts ketchup on his pancakes. Can you believe it?"

And you just stared at your friend and said: "That's it? That's the secret?"

Well, that's the kind of let-down we're talking about with W. Mark Felt.

He's Deep Throat?

On the other hand, at least it's comforting to finally know for sure that there was a Deep Throat.

It's comforting to know he was real, that he was one person, not a composite of various sources who helped Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as was suspected from time to time.

And I bet W. Mark Felt gets a nice book deal out of the whole thing.

Maybe they'll even make a movie about his life since Watergate, how he kept this incredible secret all these years.

Just don't call it W. Mark Felt: My Story.

I don't see that title helping sales at all.

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