‘Deep Throat’ Appears on Larry King Show, Here is Transcript

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By: Greg Mitchell

The legendary, if little seen, Mark Felt, a.k.a. “Deep Throat,” appeared on Larry King’s CNN program Tuesday night, in excerpts from a taped interview. Felt, 92, has been in failing health, but appeared cogent, and answered many questions, including denying that he ever said “follow the money.”

He said that overall Richard Nixon did a “good job” as president and he places most of the blame for Watergate on his aides.

Hal Holbrook’s portrayal of him in the movie “All the President’s Men” was “okay.” Felt said he kept a kind of scrap book of articles naming others as Deep Throat. When he saw such a story, “I’d clip it and put it in a book,” he said.

He also revealed that he had “never” been tempted to disclose his identity as famed Watergate source until he actually did it, and that he “pretty much” always trusted Woodward to keep the secret.

There were a couple of odd revelations in a discussion of his arrest in the late 1970s for illegal surveillance of antiwar activists. He noted the “irony” of former President Nixon speaking as a defense witness at his trial and also contributing to his defense fund.

Felt was later pardoned by President Reagan. “Did you expect that pardon?” King asked.

“Yes, I expected it,” Felt replied. “And if he hadn’t come through with it, I would have found some way of pressuring him into it.”

Appearing live with Larry were Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, their former editor, Ben Bradlee, Felt’s daughter and grandson. Felt has a new book, out this week, that he is promoting.

Felt was dressed in a bright red sweater. Asked if he was surprised that he’d kept the secret of being Deep Throat so long, Felt replied, “Yes, I guess I was.”

“Did you like being called Deep Throat?” King asked.

“Well, yes. I’m proud of everything Deep Throat did,” Felt answered. “Yes, I like being related to him.”

“Why did you decide to help Woodward? Why did you decide to do what you did?”

“Because he was doing a good job.”

“No other reason?”

“No other reasons.”

Asked how he’d like to be remembered, Felt said, “I would like to be remembered as a government employee who did his best to help everybody. I would like a reputation of trying to help people. “

Near the end of the program, Bernstein offered a passionate tribute to the press as the one place to turn when the government “shuts down” information the public has a right to know. A lone whistleblower like Felt, with courage, is needed and makes a tremendous contribution, he said. His words had special bite in light of the current Bush administration and CIA crackdown on “leaks.”

Woodward also hailed Felt, defending him against charges from fellow FBI officials about speaking out to the Post reporters back in 1972. He said almost all the top people in the White House were engaged in a “criminal conspiracy” and Felt had little choice. This displayed the need for insiders to speak out in such situations.

He joked that Bernstein ought to give his email address so Bush administration officials “could contact” him.

A transcript of most of the Felt interview follows.

*


KING: What about all those meetings that you’d have in secret places?

M. FELT: Well, that’s what being secret is all about, to have secret meetings. It is just unavoidable.

KING: Did you know he would bring down a presidency?

M. FELT: No. No, I didn’t know that. No. I would have disapproved of anything that he did along that line.

KING: So were you sad when Nixon quit?

M. FELT: No. I wasn’t sad. I just realized he had to do it.

KING: Those who say that you wanted to be a bigger job, that you wanted to be director of the FBI, and that when you didn’t get that job, that’s why you turned.

M. FELT: No. No. No. That’s just some ambitious thinking that isn’t accurate at all. No, I was trying to do the maximum effect I could and keep the bureau on the proper course.

KING: When you — did you ever, during all this time, were you ever tempted to tell anyone?

M. FELT: No.

KING: Never?

M. FELT: Never.

KING: Did your family know?

M. FELT: No. They didn’t know either.

KING: Your daughter didn’t know?

M. FELT: No.

KING: How did you do that?

M. FELT: Just maneuvered around and about.

KING: What about when you would read in the papers, this person’s Deep Throat or that person’s Deep Throat or…?

M. FELT: I’d clip it and put it in a book.

KING: Because he always said, you know, they’d never reveal it until Deep Throat passed away. And obviously, you didn’t pass away.

M. FELT: No. I hope I haven’t.

KING: But you felt the need to come forward.

M. FELT: To a certain extent, yes.

KING: Did Mr. — did Bob Woodward call you after this?

M. FELT: Yes, on a couple of occasions.

KING: What did he say?

M. FELT: He just said, “hang in there.”

KING: He was not angry or disappointed?

M. FELT: I don’t think he was angry. And I don’t think he was disappointed. I think that’s what he expected.

KING: Did you see the movie?

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: Did you read the book?

M. FELT: No, I haven’t read the book yet.

KING: In the movie they have the guy playing you, Hal Holbrook, great actor, say follow the money. Did you ever say that?

M. FELT: No. I don’t recall ever saying that.

KING: How did you know all of the things you knew?

M. FELT: Well, I was focusing on the paperwork and the more work that came to me just on an over-the-counter basis. So I was familiar with it all.

KING: So you see yourself as just doing what any good person would do?

M. FELT: Yes, yes.

KING: Some people have said that you were kind of like a lone ranger during the scandal, a law enforcement officer acting alone.

M. FELT: Well that’s a compliment in a way, but it’s true. I was acting alone, pretty much.

KING: Do you think that should have been the duty of any person in your place?

M. FELT: Yes, I think so.

KING: Any agent? Any assistant director having that job should have done what you did?

M. FELT: Should have done what I’ve done, yes.

KING: Do you still — you take great pride in having been with the bureau, right?

M. FELT: Oh, my goodness, yes.

KING: Why?

M. FELT: Well, because you contributed so much to the community. It was a tremendous contribution to the community, to be funneling things through the FBI channels. So it helped. We helped the country very much and it made it worthwhile.

KING: Loyalty is very important to you, right?

M. FELT: Oh, my goodness, yes.

KING: You were very loyal to the bureau.

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: Now was there was a question of loyalty over the Watergate thing? Did you ever say to yourself, “Am I being disloyal?”

M. FELT: I didn’t ever say that to myself about Deep Throat.

KING: Right.

M. FELT: I didn’t — it never occurred to me to say it.

KING: You thought you were doing the right thing?

M. FELT: I thought I was doing the right thing, yes.

KING: Did you have any grudge against Nixon?

M. FELT: No, never.

KING: I think someone said you wanted him to appoint you as director to the FBI and when you didn’t get the job you took it out on him.

M. FELT: That was all speculation on somebody’s part. I didn’t have that feeling at all.

KING: How do you look back at this presidency?

M. FELT: I think he did a good job.

KING: You do?

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: What went wrong, though? Watergate went wrong.

M. FELT: Well, that’s a pretty big job to have nothing go wrong, I think there were minor problems and some major problems, but they weren’t Nixon’s fault. Not those, anyway.

KING: So on balance you think it was more the people under him?

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: You told people that keeping the justice system pure, to prevent the FBI from being politically corrupted was what motivated you most. Did you think the bureau was in danger of being corrupted?

M. FELT: Well I considered that possibility yes. I wasn’t really worried about it, but I knew that that was a potential wrongdoing that could lead to a lot of trouble. So I was very careful to steer around and away from it.

KING: Where were you when Nixon resigned?

M. FELT: I don’t remember where I was. I guess I was in California.

KING: I’m going to mention some names and you tell me what you think of them, OK?

M. FELT: OK

KING: J. Edgar Hoover.

M. FELT: A real fine man and a real wonderful government employee.

KING: He is being rapped around now.

M. FELT: He’s being rapped around now, right.

KING: You but you regard him well?

M. FELT: I regard him well, yes.

KING: Bob Woodward.

M. FELT: He was a young fellow doing his job and trying to do the best he could and I think he did a good job.

KING: He met you, he was a young man, right?

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: He was in the Navy.

M. FELT: I think so, yes.

KING: Do you regard The Washington Post in high esteem?

M. FELT: Yes, I do. Compared to all other newspapers very high, indeed.

KING: Ronald Reagan.

M. FELT: Good president. Yes, a good president.

KING: You had your own legal troubles in the ’70s resulting from the black bag jobs carried out by the FBI. You and others were charged with conspiring to violate the Constitutional rights of American citizens by having homes searched without warrants. When the case went to trial President Nixon, former President Nixon testified as a defense rebuttal witness and contributed to your defense fund.

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: There’s a little irony there.

M. FELT: Yes.

KING: Was that a bad rap?

M. FELT: On me, you mean?

KING: Yes.

M. FELT: Yes, it was a bad rap.

KING: You were convicted, but Reagan pardoned you.

M. FELT: Right.

KING: Did you expect that pardon?

M. FELT: Yes, I expected it. And if he hadn’t come through with it, I would have found some way of pressuring him into it.

KING: Your wife Audrey died in 1984, right?

M. FELT: I think that was the date, yes.

KING: Did she know you were Deep Throat?

M. FELT: Yes, I think she did.

KING: Did you ever tell her?

M. FELT: I don’t think I ever told her. No.

KING: How would she have known? Guessed it?

M. FELT: Seen all of the paperwork that I was handling.

KING: That’s right. You were around things because you were married during that time.

M. FELT: Right.

KING: Did you meet in garages?

M. FELT: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes.

KING: Would you pick the meeting place?

M. FELT: Mostly I would, yes.

KING: Did you like the way they portrayed you in the film?

M. FELT: Yes. Yes. I thought it was OK.

KING: Did you — I mean like meeting in dark shadows and not coming public much, and you would be behind a dark place and Woodward would be in a public place.

M. FELT: I saw nothing wrong with that.

KING: How do you want to be remembered?

M. FELT: I would like to be remembered as a government employee who did his best to help everybody. I would like a reputation of trying to help people.

KING: Why did you become an FBI agent?

M. FELT: Really because I think in the background I saw the possibility not necessarily of becoming president or anything, but the possibility of helping the FBI along the way overcome obstacles, problems with the definition of words and that sort of thing. So I thought I could help.

KING: So you are proud you were an agent?

M. FELT: Oh, yes, I am. Very much.

KING: No qualms about Deep Throat?

M. FELT: No.

***


KING: Were you ever in fear for your life?

M. FELT: You mean in a difficult situation?

KING: Yeah.

M. FELT: Well, I was very careful, yes. In fear of what could happen if it went wrong. Oh, yes. I was not fearful, but careful.

KING: Over Watergate, were you ever concerned that you would be caught, for want of a better term, that you’d be found out?

M. FELT: Be found out in what way?

KING: By the press, by…

M. FELT: I know, but found out in what way? As exposing the president?

KING: Yeah.

M. FELT: No. I never had that thought.

KING: Did you always trust Bob Woodward?

M. FELT: Pretty much so, yes. Pretty much.

KING: You never feared that he would reveal your name at a time that might have been…

M. FELT: I didn’t have that fear, no.

KING: … might have been harmful to you?

M. FELT: Yes, it would have been.

KING: What is your life like now?

M. FELT: Oh, it’s very pleasant. Very pleasant. I’m living with my daughter. I’m living here in Santa Rosa, which is a real nice, modern town. No, I’m enjoying life.

KING: How’s your health?

M. FELT: Pretty good, considering my age.

KING: Why did you write the book?

M. FELT: It was a challenge of getting things on the record that were in favor of the bureau, helpful to the bureau, so I wanted to bring out that side of the picture.

KING: Why did the bureau in recent years, in your opinion, get a bad name?

M. FELT: Well, because there were so many people manipulating in the background. Many of the things that were manipulated were not favorable to the bureau, but they might have gone back to the bureau as bureau credit. So things — it was just very, very difficult to deal with in the later years.

KING: But it started to get a bad name under Nixon, right? When Nixon used it.

M. FELT: To a very minor degree, yes.

KING: Because he certainly did use the bureau.

M. FELT: Nixon? Well, yes. I think he did, when it was to his benefit.

KING: Did you know Hoover personally?

M. FELT: Yes. Yes.

KING: And you liked him very much.

M. FELT: I liked him very much.

KING: So “A G-Man’s Life” is coming out. It’s written with John O’Connor. The whole story of Mark Felt is known.

M. FELT: That’s right.

KING: Deep Throat will be forever embellished in our minds, and you are a now famous character of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

M. FELT: I’ll accept it.

KING: You do not feel bad about it.

M. FELT: I don’t feel bad about it.

KING: You changed the country.

M. FELT: Yes, I think we did a little.

KING: Are you proud of that?

M. FELT: I’m proud of it.

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