About 33 years after the Watergate break-in, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, who protected his source for all these years, speaks to NBC's Tom Brokaw about his new book, "The Secret Man: The Story of Watergate’s Deep Throat."
On May 31, 2005, the enigmatic source who helped two reporters bring down a president — "Deep Throat" — finally revealed himself as Mark Felt, the number two man at the F.B.I. during the Watergate era.
In the interview with Brokaw, Woodward talks about how he cultivated his relationship with Felt and reveals the location of the garage where their secret meetings took place. He calls Felt an "extra father" to him; and shares that after the book "All The President's Men" was published, their friendship was put on hold for a long time. Woodward also discloses that a former federal prosecutor also knew the identity of "Deep Throat," and like Woodward, held the secret for nearly 30 years.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Did Woodward use Felt?
Tom Brokaw: You write in your book, "The hook was set." That sounds like you were using him.
Bob Woodward: Yeah...initially it was this role kind of — as career counselor. I mean I called him my friend. But he was 25, 30 years older...he was kind of like an extra father.
On Felt’s reaction when Woodward's book, "All The President’s Men" came out
Woodward: I was listening to the local radio station here...they devoted ten or fifteen minutes to reading excerpts about the meetings with "Deep Throat." And soon thereafter I called Mark Felt at home. And the worst thing happened. He hung up...It was just like a stab.
Why Woodward thinks Felt was unhappy with the book and the movie "All The President’s Men"
Woodward: What Mark Felt’s distress was, I think was personal. His personal exposure. The idea of you—you know here, #2 in the FBI, exalted position. But he all of a sudden in this book which was getting a great amount of attention is known as "Deep Throat." One of the most celebrated pornographic movies of the era... I wouldn’t wanna be known as "Deep Throat" frankly in that sense. And then there is the exposure of the immense ambivalence he felt about helping/not helping... you know it’s again this ultimately tormented man.
Why Felt resented the Nixon administration
Brokaw: He [Felt] complained they were using him just like an errand boy. He’d get calls at home.
Woodward: That’s right. From low-level people asking for immediate information or action on something... and he truly resented it.
On Felt's real motive
Woodward: I think he saw Nixon for what he was. And somebody who is abusing the power. I think he wanted the facts out. He knew the power of information and facts. I think he had contempt for Patrick Gray. And as an old Nazi Spy hunter in his early FBI days, I think he liked the game, the chase. The sense of taking immense risk. But believing that he had insulated himself so he couldn’t be exposed.
Is Felt a hero?
Brokaw: His son says he was a hero. Do you think he was a hero?
Woodward: You know, I don’t know what heroes are. I wouldn’t put label "hero," "no hero." I would say he’s a man of immense courage... there comes a moment when all of us get tested. Should we display equivalent amount of courage, then we should feel pretty good about ourselves.
"Tom Brokaw Reports: The Secret Man" is scheduled to air on Wednesday, July 6 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The hour will include interviews with former executive editor Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein, who wrote a reporter's assessment for the book, and legendary actor Robert Redford, who played Woodward in "All The President's Men."