Politics & Society

From Bob Woodward's MasterClass: How Watergate's Mark Felt Became Deep Throat

Written by MasterClass

Apr 23, 2019 • 3 min read

Bob reveals how he developed his relationship with Mark Felt, the source who became known as "Deep Throat" during the Watergate scandal.

Topics include: Meeting the Ultimate Source • Covert Communication • Why Mark Felt Talked • One Source Will Not Tell You the Complete Story • Protecting a Valuable Source

This is an excerpt from Bob Woodward's MasterClass.

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Preview of How Watergate's Mark Felt Became Deep Throat

Mark Felt as the source was an accident.

I was in the Navy, worked for the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Moore, and one of the things he asked me to do is take documents over to the White House on a number of occasions.

So I was in my Navy lieutenant's uniform, went to the NSC and sat outside some of the offices.

And one day, there was somebody sitting next to me who had on a perfect suit, a white shirt, gray hair, and had an air of authority about him.

And I introduced myself, and he said his name was Mark Felt from the FBI.

We waited a long time, so I found out that he had somewhat of a similar background.

And I was taking graduate courses at GW.

I thought I was going to go to law school.

He was a lawyer, gone to law school.

And I got his phone number.

And because I was this lost soul kind of, he was a career counselor and helped me.

And I called him a couple of times for advice.

He helped me in a story where the FBI wanted to get out-- that the would be assassin of Governor Wallace, Arthur Bremer, was somebody who'd acted alone.

And so he gave me tips and clues.

He was not a volunteer.

I had to really push him a number of times.

He would help.

It was like a short wave radio broadcast.

He'd come in clear and then he would be vague.

Then Watergate was a key day.

June 1772 was the burglary.

Worked on the story with the group.

They said in the address books that two of the burglars was the entry W. House-H. Hunt or one was H. Hunt-W. House.

Sounded like the White House.

I finally got Hunt on the phone.

I said, how come your name was in the address books of two of these burglars?

And he was shocked and shouted out, good god, slammed down the phone, and left town.

There was a certain packing my bags quality to his voice.

And now, I can have your name and my address book and go, commit a crime.

That doesn't mean you're involved.

So I called Mark Felt at the office and asked him about Hunt, and what he said was very important.

And Felt was kind of running the Watergate investigation in these early days.

He said, oh yes, he's implicated.

You won't be unfair to him by doing a story about his connection to these burglars.

That was a safety net and a cushion for me.

You can just do the story, OK.

The name is here, but he said, look, this guy's a chief suspect.

He was involved.

I didn't need to say and did not say in this story, a source says Howard Hunt's a key suspect, but that was the unspoken, unarticulated deep background which gave me confidence, and in the end, gave confidence to the editors of the Washington Post.

Mark Felt was talking on deep background, and that meant I couldn't even indicate there was a source.

The managing editor at the Post, Howard Simons, heard about this and gave him the name Deep Throat, which was a pornographic movie at that time-- deep from the deep background,...

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I have to say this is one of the most enlightening classes I've taken. Bob, I appreciate your direct teaching method and I thank you for your years of dedication bring the important stories to the world. - KC B.

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Wonderful educational explanation of what good journalism is and how to produce good stories that won't get compromised as new facts are revealed. Took more notes on this class than any other I have taken in the Masterclass series. - Tom L.

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