Downie Disputes Bernstein Claim that He Pressed Woodward to Reveal Deep Throat

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By: Joe Strupp

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, says he never pressed Watergate legend Bob Woodward to reveal the identity of Deep Throat to him, as Carl Bernstein reportedly contends in a new Vanity Fair article.

“That part is wrong, that I was pressing Woodward to tell me the name,” Downie told E&P, referring to a snippet of the Bernstein article referenced in the New York Daily News Tuesday.

According to the Daily News, Bernstein’s piece states, “During the past year, he’d pressed Woodward to tell him the name, arguing that the current editor should know the identity of our source. Woodward had resisted.” By this account, Downie and Bernstein also disagreed on the timing of naming Deep Throat, with Downie favoring as soon as he passed away–and Woodward wanting to wait until he had a book ready.

Downie first learned Deep Throat was former FBI official W. Mark Felt in March after reading a manuscript about Felt that Woodward had written years earlier. The manuscript ended up being the basis for Woodward’s recent book, “The Secret Man.”

Downie said he came to read the manuscript after discussing with Woodward how the Post should cover the death of Deep Throat after Woodward remarked publicly that the famous source was getting old.

“Once he said that he was getting old, I said [to Woodward] that we needed to start having a plan about what to do when he died,” Downie said. “He told me about his manuscript and invited me to read it. That is when I found out who Deep Throat was. I never pressed him to tell me the name and he never resisted.”

But Downie confirmed Bernstein’s contention in the same piece that Woodward wanted to hold off confirming Deep Throat’s identity until it could come out in a book. “Bob was not sure we should do it right away,” Downie recalled. “I told him that we had to do it and that was the plan we executed.”

Woodward and Bernstein did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

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