Deep Throat unmasked

There was
turmoil and chagrin at The Washington Post after monthly magazine
Vanity Fair unmasked Watergate source Deep Throat after 30 years,
writes Jeffrey Blyth in New York.

Vanity Fair began working on
the story a year ago when it was approached by a lawyer-writer, John
O’Connor, who claimed he knew the secret. At first the magazine –
better known for its celebrity spreads – was sceptical, but then it
realised something rang true. “It was too odd not to be true,” said a
spokesman. All that remained was for the FBI’s former deputy head Mark
Felt (pictured right with his grandson), now aged 91, to confirm it was
him.

The Washington Post, whose investigation into the scandal
led to President Nixon’s resignation, would not comment at first, but
once the story was on every TV and radio station, it confirmed on its
website that Felt was indeed the mystery informant.

Former Post
editor Ben Bradlee – one of the few on the paper who knew the secret,
other that reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – said: “I had no
idea it was coming. It really landed on us.”

For years the paper had promised the name of their informant would only be revealed on his death.

Vanity
Fair had deliberately not contacted Woodward or Bernstein to check the
story, knowing probably that they might only deny it.

The Post
admitted that the hours between the first report of the Vanity Fair
story and the final acknowledgement of the truth were frantic.

Bradlee added: “What stuns me is that the secret lasted so long.”

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