Who Is W. Mark Felt?
May 31, 2005 — -- Now that it has been confirmed that W. Mark Felt Jr. is indeed "Deep Throat," his lasting legacy may simply be as "the most famous anonymous person in U.S. history," as Vanity Fair reporter John D. O'Connor calls him.
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein used Deep Throat as a key source to the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974.
Woodward, Bernstein and former editor Ben Bradlee confirmed on the Washington Post Web site late this afternoon that Felt is Deep Throat.
"W. Mark Felt was 'Deep Throat' and helped us immeasurably in our Watergate coverage," Woodward and Bernstein said in a statement. "However, as the record shows, many other sources and officials assisted us and other reporters for the hundreds of stories that were written in The Washington Post about Watergate"
The two reporters had agreed not to identify Deep Throat until after his death. Felt's family came forward after the Vanity Fair article was released to say Felt had admitted he was in fact the notorious source.
Many of the details of Felt's life would not seem extraordinary, except for the new revelation about his role in exposing the Watergate scandal.
Felt was born in 1913 in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1913. According to Vanity Fair, he was an outgoing, ambitious man raised in "modest circumstances." He graduated from the University of Idaho and became the head of his fraternity. From there he went to George Washington University Law School and married a fellow Idaho graduate, Audrey Robinson.
Felt, 91, joined the FBI in 1942 and worked his way up to become the bureau's acting associate director when Nixon was in the White House. He became the FBI's No. 2 man in the '70s.
His ascent up the ranks of the FBI began in 1962 when he was named second in command of the FBI's training division after a successful turn at stifling Kansas City's mafia. Felt's succinct style appealed to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. "In a move to rein in his power-seeking head of domestic intelligence, William C. Sullivan, Hoover promoted Felt to a newly created position overseeing Sullivan, vaulting Felt to prominence," O'Connor writes in Vanity Fair.
In their book "All the President's Men," Woodward and Bernstein described Deep Throat as a man "aware of his own weaknesses, he readily conceded his flaws. … He could be rowdy, drink too much, overreach. He was not good at concealing his feelings, hardly ideal for a man in his position."