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Deep Throat Revealed: Ben Bradlee

Posted in

10/15/2005
By washingtonpost.com


The Washington Post Tuesday confirmed that W. Mark Felt, a former number-two official at the FBI, was "Deep Throat," the secretive source who provided information that helped unravel the Watergate scandal. The confirmation came from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, and their former top editor, Benjamin C. Bradlee. The three spoke after Felt's family and Vanity Fair magazine identified the 91-year-old Felt, now a retiree in California, as the long-anonymous source who provided crucial guidance for some of the newspaper's groundbreaking Watergate stories.

Ben Bradlee, vice president at large and former executive editor of The Washington Post, was online Thursday, June 2, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss Felt and his work with Woodward and Bernstein to uncover the Watergate Scandal.

Bradlee served as executive editor of The Washington Post for 23 years, through the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, and became vice president at large in 1991.

washingtonpost.com: Ben Bradlee will begin his discussion in just a few minutes, a slight delay. Please stay with us.

washingtonpost.com: Ben, thank you for joining us online today.

The unmasking of Deep Throat is a moment you've known was coming for 30 years. Clearly, the way Mark Felt's identity was revealed was not what you, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein expected, but how does it feel to finally have the epilogue of the Watergate story finally written?
Ben Bradlee: It feels good. And it's good for history that this story is becoming really complete and over now.

Escanaba, Mich.: Is it true that you were against the investigation into who was involved at the White House?

Ben Bradlee: It certainly is not true. As the story progressed the clues all pointed higher up and finally into the White House itself and of course ultimately to the president himself. What newspaperman could be against that?

Silver Spring, Md.: Mr Bradlee: When you first learned that Mark Felt was "Deep Throat," were you concerned about his motivations, and what did you do to assure yourself that he was not pursuing a personal agenda? I ask, of course, because Felt was then known to have been disappointed in his ambitions for the FBI top job in the wake of Hoover's death in 1972. Were you worried that he might be trying to embarrass L. Patrick Gray, the outsider who got the nod over Felt, the long-time Hoover loyalist?

Ben Bradlee: Everybody who talks to a newspaper has a motive. That's just a given. And good reporters always -- repeat always -- probe to find out what that motive is. In Felt's case it seemed obvious that he was concerned about abuses of power coming from people who worked for the president. Including his highest advisers, including the attorney general of the United States and that seemed a totally decent motive.

Fairfield, Conn.: What is your reaction to the strong criticisms leveled at Mark Felt by Pat Buchanan and Charles Colson?

Ben Bradlee: I am really baffled by Colson and Gordon Liddy lecturing the world about public morality. Both of them went to jail after being convicted of misbehavior surrounding the Watergate cover-up. They were threatening and they paid a price for it. And as far as I'm concerned they have no standing in the morality debate.

Buchanan is a little different because he hasn't done time, but I'm not ready to be part of his indignation.

washingtonpost.com: You're one of the legendary editors in the news business. Turn that critical eye on John O'Connor's Vanity Fair article. Any edits?

Ben Bradlee: I haven't perused it with an editor's eye. But I thought the story was fascinating and he was obviously authoritative and I would like to have seen it in The Washington Post, but we had this little problem. Woodward and