Does Deep Throat Exist?

Today, to appease all the Watergate buffs out there, we have a guest comment by Jack Ayer. Ayer is a renowned bankruptcy/commercial law professor who in earlier lives served as a reporter and a bankruptcy judge. So his surprising take on the identity of Deep Throat is of interest:

Responding to recent press reports that "Deep Throat" is dying, let me review the evidence that there never was a Deep Throat (an idea first suggested, I believe, by Edward Jay Epstein--but I'm sure he is right).

Here's the summary:

Deep Throat never appeared in the Washington Post version of the stories--no mention, no hint. More tellingly, apparently he did not appear in the first several drafts of the book. He was included late; the editor has said that he improved the story arc mightily.

It's not the way reporters work. You don't get stuff from one source; you get fragments of bricolage all over and try to piece them together, and leverage them into more and more: you know what he just said about you? Stuff like that. Moreover, no individual reporter will know, can know, whether he has an "exclusive" source or not; he must fear or at least wonder that his source is talking to someone else.

Reporters are fierce about protecting their sources. If Woodward really wanted to protect him, he would do everything he could to minimize talk about him. Even if he did use him in the book, he could scotch further talk simply by saying "I'm not going to talk about it." Instead, Woodward has played an elaborate game of cat and mouse, and when the game goes quiet for too long, he brings it up again.

Part and parcel of the last point: lots of people are flattered at the hint that they /might/ be deep throat. Pat Buchanan. Alex Haig. John Dean. The list goes on and on. They have all enjoyed the opportunity of denying the suggestion. And Woodward has profited from letting them enjoy it.

Remember, we are talking about a guy who claims he got a complete deathbead confession (unwitnessed) from one of the most secretive public servants in American History--i.e., William J. Casey.

(Note that I, having absolutely no basis for knowledge, prefer the rumor that Deep Throat was George Herbert Walker Bush--because that revelation would be the most dramatic.)

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