History’s Greatest Leaker: He Did It His Way
In “All the President’s Men,” Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein revealed the delicate dance between reporters and anonymous sources in their Watergate investigation. In this excerpt, they speculate about the motives of Woodward’s most famous unnamed informant, Deep Throat.
Deep Throat was waiting. He looked worn, but was smiling. “What’s up?” he asked mock-offhandedly, and took a deep drag on his cigarette. Just once, Woodward wished, Deep Throat would really tell him what was up — everything, no questions asked, no tug of wills, a full status report. The reporters had speculated on the reason for Deep Throat’s piecemeal approach; they had several theories. If he told everything he knew all at once, a good Plumber [member of a secret White House team investigating news leaks] might be able to find the leak. By making the reporters go elsewhere to fill out his information, he minimized his risk. Perhaps. But it was equally possible that he felt that the effect of one or two big stories, no matter how devastating, could be blunted by the White House. Or, by raising the stakes gradually, was he simply making the game more interesting for himself? The reporters tended to doubt that someone in his position would be so cavalier toward matters affecting Richard Nixon or the presidency itself. More likely, they thought, Deep Throat was trying to protect the office, to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost. Each time Woodward had raised the question, Deep Throat had gravely insisted, “I have to do this my way.”
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