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Since the mid-1970's Americans have believed that "Deep Throat," the anonymous source from the Watergate scandal, was someone inside the scandal. This week we have learned that it was an FBI agent who was responsible for investigating the scandal from the outside, and who was supervising other FBI agents.|
It was long believed that the source revealed what he knew about the scandal as an act of loyalty to his (or her) country and against his corrupt boss Richard Nxon. Now we have learned that it allegedly was W. Mark Felt, a man who was the highest ranking FBI agent in the country and who was second in comand at the FBI (his boss, the number one in command, was a political appointee with no experience in the FBI). It's now believed that Felt was leaking information to the media simply as revenge against Nixon, because Nixon did not promote him.
I have a different view. I believe Felt was leaking information and guiding the news reporters as part of the FBI's Watergate investigation. If you see comments by the Washington Post reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, you'll see them saying that Deep Throat was not leaking information. According to them, he was guiding their reporting and confirming information as they presented it to him. To do that meant the reporters were not collecting information from Felt and the FBI. In fact, Felt was collecting details from the media, which he would then confirm or deny. He would review all the data and then he had the power to encourage or discourage story angles to the reporters by advising them. Things were said like, "follow the money" instead of "build a case against the staff." So in essence, the reporters acted as domestic intelligence agents for the FBI, America's leading and largest law enforcement agency.
So did a free press bring down the corrupt Nixon presidency in the Watergate scandal? Or was the FBI managing the public debate and the public information of a more serious and widespread scandal?