Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were on a panel talking about Watergate Tuesday at the meeting of the American Society of News Editors in Washington, D.C. In the course of the conversation, they were asked about Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat, a new book by Max Holland that deconstructs Felt’s contribution to Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate coverage in the Washington Post. As I reported a few days ago in a long Bleader post on Leak, Holland’s conclusion was that Felt’s role as Deep Throat was more important than the two reporters have made it out to be and and considerably less virtuous.
According to Leak, Felt wanted to run the FBI, but President Nixon gave the job of acting director to L. Patrick Gray instead. And so, Holland writes, Felt set out to get it by “trying to prove to the White House, through anonymous leaks to the media, that Gray was dangerously incompetent and incapable of running the Bureau. Felt was supremely confident that because of his extensive counterintelligence experience, he could keep his hand invisible.”
Woodward, with whom Felt had a series of secret meetings, was a means to that end.