W. Mark Felt, Deep Throat of Watergate fame, died this week at the age of 95. Brooke remembers a champion of transparency who, in reality, wasn’t.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And, finally, the most famous anonymous source in modern history died Thursday. Deep Throat, the garage freak – Mark Felt, if you prefer – will always be remembered for his role in bringing down the Nixon Administration. The Deep Throat depicted by Hal Holbrook in All the President’s Men lurking in the shadows of an underground garage was a cynic who found Nixon’s penchant for secrecy, spying and strong-arming contemptible. But Felt wasn't Deep Throat. Sure, he was Bob Woodward’s source, and sometimes they met in a garage, but he wasn't a cynic. He was an FBI guy.
In his memoir, A G-Man’s Life, he writes of having been denounced when the Nixon Administration came in as being too much the Hooverite, overly attached to Hoover’s leadership style, his secrecy, spying and strong-arming. But Felt said Hoover used those tactics to protect the FBI’s good name, while Nixon wanted to turn the agency into a political tool.
Mark Felt was instrumental in bringing down a criminal presidency, but he was no standard-bearer for transparency. He was fine with Nixon’s methods. He just didn't want Nixon to use them. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] BOB GARFIELD: That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Megan Ryan, Jamie York, Mike Vuolo, Mark Phillips and Nazanin Rafsanjani and edited – by Brooke. We had technical direction from Jennifer Munson and more engineering help from Zach Marsh. We also had help from Deena Prichep and Andy Lanset. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Katya Rogers is our senior producer and John Keefe our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. This is On the Media from WNYC. I'm Brooke Gladstone. BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield.