By Jack Limpert
After a month of voting, readers of The Washingtonian decided that of all the films ever set in Washington, All the President’s Men—Alan Pakula’s 1976 adaptation of the Washington Post’s reporting on the 1972 break-in at the Watergate—is the “most Washington” of them all. The Washingtonian says the movie deserves the honor: Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman gave memorable performances as Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and Jason Robards won an Oscar for his portrayal of Post editor Ben Bradlee. And then there was the wonderfully mysterious character Deep Throat, who Woodward said met him in an underground parking garage and helped guide his Watergate reporting.
Back in the early 1970s I was the fairly new editor of The Washingtonian and one of my mentors was Frank Waldrop, editor of the Washington Times-Herald until it was bought and closed by the Washington Post. Frank wrote occasionally for the magazine and I talked often with him, getting advice on how to be an editor. His best advice: “You’re a small town boy from Wisconsin. Keep your sense of astonishment at what you see in Washington.”
In the summer of 1974, after President Richard Nixon resigned and the Woodward and Bernstein book, All the President’s Men, came out, Frank told me that the Deep Throat character may have been Mark Felt, a top official at the FBI. Frank had good FBI connections, and I wrote two pieces that summer speculating that Felt was Deep Throat. Here’s the first one, published in June 1974; it has a link to the second one published two months later.
More than 30 years later, in 2005, Mark Felt confessed. In a Vanity Fair article, John D. O’Connor, an attorney acting on Felt’s behalf, quoted Felt as saying, “I’m the guy they used to call Deep Throat.” Woodward and Bernstein confirmed it. Three years later, Felt, the former associate director of the FBI, died.
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