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The lesson of Deep Throat

The myth of Watergate encouraged an adversarial media and a distrust of government. But the result has been transparency without responsibility

By Alasdair Roberts   September 2005

The Secret Man by Bob Woodward (Simon & Schuster, £16.99)

In May it was revealed that Deep Throat was W Mark Felt, the FBI’s second highest official during the Watergate affair. Bob Woodward’s memoir of his relationship with Felt serves several purposes. It reassures Woodward’s other secret sources that his acknowledgement of Felt’s role was preceded by much hand-wringing. It also reveals Felt’s own determination to cover his tracks while leaking to Woodward. And, perhaps unintentionally, it makes us wonder whether Watergate really matters any more.

Felt lied to L Patrick Gray III, the FBI acting director, when Gray confronted…

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