Bernstein Won’t Confirm or Deny that Felt is ‘Deep Throat’

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By: Joe Strupp and Greg Mitchell

He has long been a front-runner, and according to an article in the latest Vanity Fair magazine, former FBI official W. Mark Felt is indeed legendary Watergate source “Deep Throat.”

The July issue of the magazine reports that Felt, now 91, and living in Santa Rosa, Calif., “has told friends and intimates that he was the confidential inside source of Watergate fame.” Felt reportedly gave writer John D. O’Connor permission to disclose his identity.

“The Felt family cooperated fully,” Vanity Fair stated in a press release, but were not paid. O’Connor writes that Felt told him “on several occasons” that “I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat.”

Contacted by E&P, former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward relied on the man dubbed ‘Deep Throat’ for crucial advice in their Watergate sleuthing, would neither confirm nor deny Felt was the source, and said that the Woodward-Bernstein team would not change its stance.

“I think people are jumping up and down about this, but we have nothing to say other than what we have said which is when the individual dies, we will disclose his identity,” he said. “Other sources have released us from pledges, but nothing has happened that could change that in these circumstances.”

The offices of Woodward and former Post editor Ben Bradlee told E&P they would have no comment.

“There have been numerous books and articles and speculation in journalism classes devoted to Deep Throat,” Bernstein told E&P, when contacted at his Manhattan office. “When the individual dies, we will disclose his identity. We have always said the same thing. We do not go into any detail about it, not to play games, but to protect the source.”

Asked if he was aware of the Vanity Fair article prior to its publication or had spoken with Felt, Bernstein declined comment. He also declined comment when asked directly if Felt was Deep Throat. “I’m not going to go beyond this,” he said. “I’ve said what I am going to say.”

When asked if this report was different than most past reports on Deep Throat’s identity because it involved alleged comments by the famed anonymous source, Bernstein said, “That is not exactly true,” but declined to elaborate further.

In the article, O’Connor reports that Felt’s children, Joan and Mark Jr., urged him to go public after he revealed his secret to them in 2002. Felt argued with them, O’Connor writes, saying he didn’t want the story out there.

?I don?t think [being Deep Throat] was anything to be proud of,? Felt said to his son, Mark Jr., at one point, according to the article. ?You [should] not leak information to anyone.? O’Connor tried to get Woodward to join him in the public exposure but the Washington Post reporter ultimately would not go along.

O’Connor is a lawyer at the San Francisco firm Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin.

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