New Buzz About 'Deep Throat' ID

Richard Nixon
AP
In the 1976 movie, "All the President's Men," actor Hal Holbrooke played "Deep Throat."

In real life, his or her identity is Washington's long-running deep dark secret, notes CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante.

Yet, the speculation never stops, Plante observes. The latest comes from Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, who writes in the Los Angeles Times that Deep Throat is seriously ill.

One of the two journalists who broke the Watergate story using "Deep Throat" as their source has always said he'd unlock the mystery, once the source who revealed what really went down in the Watergate scandal is dead. Bob Woodward wouldn't talk on camera, but told Plante that, despite the current rumors, there's no reason to believe Deep Throat's demise is imminent.

Woodward and Carl Bernstein, then young reporters at The Washington Post who met their mysterious informant in the recesses of a parking garage, have carefully shielded his identity.

The mystery has inspired literally dozens of theories. Some just mildly outrageous.

For instance: the first President Bush?

Nope, asserts history professor Allan Lichtman of American Uiversity: "George H. W. Bush was out to lunch during Watergate. He was not CIA director until it was all over. Forget it."

And others, says Lichtman, don't even pass the laugh test.

Diane Sawyer? "Well, you know," Lichtman responded, "she was at the Nixon White House, but she was not privy to any of the kinds of information that Deep Throat supposedly supplied.

Veteran journalist Chuck Conconi worked with Woodward and Bernstein. He's now editor-at-large of Washingtonian magazine. "Washington is a town with very few or no secrets and this secret has lasted over 30 years," he marveled.

"He, and only he, knew much of the information," says Bill Gaines, who teaches investigative journalism at the University of illinois.

Over the years, Gaines and his students have studied the data and the clues, and come to a conclusion about Deep Throat's identity.

"We determined that Fred Fielding, who was the first deputy to John Dean in 1972, was the character known as Deep Throat," Gaines reports. "We found that he had practically all of the information that Deep Throat conveyed."

Plante ran the name past Lichtman.

"Ahh -- Fred Fielding -- the new consensus choice," Lichtman responded. "(He was) John Dean's deputy. He knew it all."

Fielding went on to become a Washington super-lawyer, and served on the 9-11 commission. He says he wasn't Deep Throat.

But Woodward has said that Deep Throat has had to publicly deny that he's the source, Plante points out.

And there's no shortage of other suspects: David Gergen, Pat Buchanan, even former President Ford!

But, asserts Conconi, "It's probably going to be someone in the administration that wasn't famous. …So I think who it's going to be,,,is going to disappoint a lot of people."

Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post and one of the few people who knows the source's identity, has reportedly acknowledged that he has written Deep Throat's obituary.