Jonah Goldberg

I'm not alone. Recently, Fox News media analyst Eric Burns revealed that the late, great historian Stephen Ambrose had told him there never was a Deep Throat. Burns' evidence was second-hand at best. He said Ambrose had shared an editor with Woodward and Bernstein - the legendary Alice Mayhew - and she had told him that Deep Throat was a composite of various sources. Mayhew told Ambrose that the first manuscript of "All the President's Men" contained no references to Deep Throat and that she told them the book needed a stronger plot device. D.T. was the result.

This version corroborates that of David Obst, Woodward and Bernstein's former literary agent. In his memoirs, "Too Good to Be Forgotten," he confirms that the first draft of the book didn't mention Deep Throat and that Bob Fink, the researcher who organized the reporters' huge pile of sources, notes and articles into a workable manuscript, was stunned to discover the appearance of Deep Throat in later versions.

Obst also runs down several of the implausible details about Deep Throat in the book. Woodward was supposed to have signaled to Throat that he needed to talk by putting a cloth-topped stick in a flowerpot and moving it to the back of his balcony. If Throat saw the signal, they would meet at a prearranged underground garage. Inconveniently, however, the pot couldn't be seen from the street. In other words, this major Washington figure was supposed to drive to Woodward's building, get out of his car, and walk down Woodward's alley every single day. That's not very secretive behavior for someone trying to stay secret.

A similar problem is Woodward's claim that Throat would secretly mark page 20 of Woodward's home-delivered New York Times with a hand-drawn clock marking the time of their next meeting. But Woodward's Times was delivered to the building's lobby, writes Obst, "unmarked and stacked in a pile" before 7 a.m. How did Deep Throat figure out the right paper? And why would a super-secret, high-profile source devise a system that required regularly skulking in a public lobby before dawn?

Anyway, there are more questions and more answers to all of this. But I think history deserves a full accounting. Presumably, if Deep Throat exists he is aware that he will be named when he dies. So, gentlemen, why not get your side of the story on paper - or video - now? If you suspect you might be fingered for doing something you didn't, you have even more reason to get your version squared away.

Watergate prompted a generation of preening journalists to lecture America from a pedestal. The least Deep Throat can do - or, the least the leading Deep Throat suspects can do - is to let us know if the journalists belonged on that pedestal in the first place.

Correction: In a recent column I wrote that Howard Dean is "a vocal advocate for gay marriage." He is not. He is officially opposed to gay marriage. But he is a vocal opponent of any attempts to prevent gay marriage. I regret the error.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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