CLOSE
Original image
getty images

4 People Suspected of Being Deep Throat

Original image
getty images

It’s been 10 years since Mark Felt, who served as Associate Director of the FBI under Nixon, told the world he was also “Deep Throat.” But for more than three decades after the then-anonymous source laid bare the scandal that brought down an administration, he was also one of history’s great unsolved mysteries—and speculation about the true identity of Deep Throat became something of a political parlor game.  

The story of Deep Throat begins in 1972, with two young reporters who had landed the scoop of the century. When Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post learned that five men had been arrested for breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel, they began to follow a trail that eventually implicated the Republicans, the Justice Department, the CIA, and President Nixon himself. The political furor that erupted led to the first-ever resignation of a United States president.  

Though Woodward and Bernstein relied on many sources in their reporting of the scandal, one informant was essential to their investigation. Their managing editor, Howard Simons, named him Deep Throat after a pornographic movie starring Linda Lovelace. Later, Woodward would write that “the interviews [with Deep Throat] were technically on ‘deep background’—a journalistic term meaning that information could be used but no source of any kind would be identified in the newspaper.” 

Over the years, the reporters protected Deep Throat’s identity, even as the informant became the most famous source in the history of journalism. Their tight-lipped refusal to reveal their sources only spurred speculation, resulting in a number of theories (some credible, some anything but) about their identities. Here are four people rumored to have been Deep Throat prior to the revelation that the source was really Mark Felt:  

1. John Ehrlichman 

Ehrlichman was White House counsel at the time of the scandal and ended up serving time in prison for his role in the cover-up. He was convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and conspiracy in 1974 and was the only one of the people imprisoned for the cover-up who went voluntarily, instead of attempting to navigate the appeals process. Some used this as evidence of his involvement in exposing the case. They cite Ehrlichman’s publicly stated approval of the role of the press as tacit acknowledgment that he himself leaked details of the break-in and coverup to the Post—perhaps because he felt guilty over his leadership of the covert “Plumbers” group tasked with stopping the leak of classified information to the media.

2. Fred Fielding 

Fielding was associate and deputy counsel at the White House during Nixon’s presidency. In 2003, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter William Gaines, who began teaching at the University of Illinois after his retirement from journalism, decided to put his students on the Watergate case. After reviewing thousands of documents, his team pointed the finger at Fielding. They matched details from Bernstein and Woodward’s book, All the President’s Men, to characteristics of Fielding, who ticked all of the boxes. The team cited six particular instances in which knowledge held by Fielding matched information provided by Deep Throat, making him the most credible candidate in the guessing game. 

3. Diane Sawyer 

Sawyer may be one of the most famous TV journalists of all time, but in 1995 she joined the group of suspected Deep Throats. Rabbi Baruch Korff, a religious leader who was one of Nixon’s close confidants, was ferociously loyal to the President. Even after Nixon’s resignation, Korff claimed that the President had committed no crimes, and during the scandal itself he formed the National Citizens Committee for Fairness to the Presidency, a group dedicated to restoring Nixon’s good name. This loyalty was shared by Sawyer, who was on the plane that took Nixon home from the White House and helped organize Nixon’s Watergate files for his memoirs. While dying of cancer, Korff pointed the finger at Sawyer, claiming that she was, without a doubt, Deep Throat. “I have no solid evidence of it, but everything points to her,” he said—despite Woodward’s repeated claims that the informant was a man. 

4. Richard Nixon 

One of the weirdest theories about Deep Throat is that Richard Nixon himself was the anonymous informant. Since the scandal broke, rumors circulated that the President, tormented by his deeds or threatened by other forces, blew the whistle on himself by contacting Woodward. Those that held this belief reasoned that nobody knew the details of Nixon’s presidency as well as the president himself. But the theory was so over-the-top that it was explored mainly in side conversations and fictional works like Robert Altman’s 1984 movie Secret Honor. As Patrick Marnham noted in 1980, “If Deep Throat was Nixon, Watergate was about the President of the United States being off his marbles.”  

Other References 
The Encyclopedia Americana (Grolier, 2000)
Emmett Watson, My Life in Print (Lesser Seattle Pub., 1993) 
Marnham, Patrick. The Spectator245.7934 (Aug 2, 1980): 25.

Original image
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com
arrow
This Just In
A Connecticut Farm Purchased by Mark Twain for His Daughter, Jean Clemens, Is Up for Sale
Original image
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

Mark Twain—whose wit was matched only by his wanderlust—had many homes throughout his life: a small frame house in Hannibal, Missouri; a Victorian mansion in Hartford, Connecticut; and "Stormfield," a country estate in Redding, Connecticut, just to name a few. Now, the Connecticut Post reports that a farm adjacent to Stormfield, purchased in 1909 by Twain for his daughter, Jean Clemens, is up for sale.

“Jean’s Farm,” as Twain nicknamed the home, is priced at $1,850,000. In addition to a storied literary legacy, the refurbished five-bedroom estate has a saltwater swimming pool, a movie theater, and a children’s play area. It sits on nearly 19 acres of land, making the property “well-sized for a gentleman's farm, for horses, or as a hobby farm,” according to its real estate listing. There’s also a fish pond and a 19th-century barn with an extra apartment.

While scenic, Jean’s Farm has a bittersweet backstory: Jean Clemens, who had epilepsy, enjoyed the pastoral property for only a short time before passing away at the age of 29. She lived in a sanitarium before moving to Stormfield in April 1909, where she served as her father's secretary and housekeeper and made daily trips to her farm. On December 24, 1909, Jean died at Stormfield after suffering a seizure in a bathtub. Twain, himself, would die several months later, on April 21, 1910, at the age of 74.

Twain sold Jean’s Farm after his daughter’s death, and used the proceeds to fund a library in Redding, today called the Mark Twain Library. But despite losing a child, Twain’s years at Stormfield—his very last home—weren’t entirely colored by tragedy. “Although Twain only spent two years here [from 1908 to 1910], it was an important time in the writer’s life,” historian Brent Colely told The Wall Street Journal. “Twain was always having guests over, including his close friend Helen Keller, hosting almost 181 people for visits in the first six months alone, according to guestbooks and notations.”

Check out some photos of Jean’s Farm below, courtesy of TopTenRealEstateDeals.com:

Jean’s Farm, a property in Redding, Connecticut that author Mark Twain purchased for his daughter, Jean Clemens, in 1909.
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

 Jean’s Farm, a property in Redding, Connecticut that author Mark Twain purchased for his daughter, Jean Clemens, in 1909.
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

Jean’s Farm, a property in Redding, Connecticut that author Mark Twain purchased for his daughter, Jean Clemens, in 1909.
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

Jean’s Farm, a property in Redding, Connecticut that author Mark Twain purchased for his daughter, Jean Clemens, in 1909.
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Connecticut Post]

Original image
iStock
arrow
History
The Dangerous History Behind the Word 'Deadline'
Original image
iStock

Nowadays, the word deadline is used all but exclusively to refer to a date or time by which something must be accomplished. But over the centuries, the term has been used in a number of different contexts: Among early 20th-century printers, for instance, a deadline was a line marked on a cylindrical press outside of which text would be illegible, while the Oxford English Dictionary has unearthed a reference to an angler’s “dead-line” dating from the mid-1800s referring to a weighted fishing line that does not move in the water.

The modern sense of deadline, however, may be influenced by a much more dangerous meaning. It originated during the Civil War, and came to prominence during the much-hyped trial of an infamous Swiss-born Confederate leader named Henry Wirz.

Wirz was born Heinrich Hartmann Wirz in Zürich in 1823. In his early twenties, a court forced him to leave Zürich for 12 years after he failed to repay borrowed money, and in 1848 he left first for Russia before eventually settling in America. After working a string of jobs at several spots around the country, Wirz married a woman named Elizabeth Wolf in 1854 and moved to Louisiana. After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Fourth Louisiana Infantry.

One of Wirz’s first engagements in the war was the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862. He was badly wounded in the fighting, losing the use of his right arm, and when he returned to his unit a few weeks later he was promoted to the rank of captain in recognition of his bravery and service. From there, Wirz rose through the ranks to become an adjutant to John H. Winder, an experienced and high-ranking general overseeing the treatment of Confederate deserters and Union prisoners. In 1864, Wirz was put in control of Camp Sumter, a newly-established internment camp for Union soldiers located near Andersonville in rural Georgia.

Over the remaining 14 months of the war, Camp Sumter grew to become one of the largest prisoner of war camps in the entire Confederacy. At its peak, it held more than 30,000 Union prisoners, all of whom shared an enormous 16.5-acre open-air paddock—conditions inside of which were notoriously grim. Disease and malnutrition were rife, and a lack of clean water, warm clothing, and adequate sanitation led to the deaths of many of the camp’s prisoners. Of the 45,000 Union prisoners held in the Camp at one time or another, it is estimated that almost a third succumbed to Sumter’s squalid and inhumane conditions.

In his defense, Wirz later claimed to have had little real control over the conditions in the camp, and it is certainly true that the day-to-day running of Camp Sumter was a disorganized affair divided among numerous different parties. Incompetence, rather than malice, may have been the cause of many of the camp's horrors.

Execution of Captain Henry Wirtz (i.e. Wirz), C.S.A, adjusting the rope
Execution of Captain Henry Wirz in 1865

In 1865, the war came to an end and Wirz was arrested in Andersonville. He was eventually sent to Washington, and held in the Old Capitol Prison to await trial before a military commission. That fall, more than 150 witnesses—including one of Wirz’s own prison staff and several former prisoners—took to the stand and gave testimony. Many provided damning evidence of Wirz’s harsh treatment of the prisoners (although historians now think some of these testimonies were exaggerated). As accounts of him withholding food and other supplies from prisoners found to have committed even minor offenses were relayed in the press—and as the full extent of the terrible conditions inside Camp Sumter became public—Wirz emerged as a much-vilified symbol of the camp’s inhumane treatment of its Union prisoners.

One of most damning examples of his inhumanity was his implementation of what became known as the Camp’s dead line:

Wirz, still wickedly pursuing his evil purpose, did establish and cause to be designated within the prison enclosure … a “dead line,” being a line around the inner face of the stockade or wall enclosing said prison, and about twenty feet distant and within said stockade; and so established said dead line, which was in many places an imaginary line, in many other places marked by insecure and shifting strips of [boards nailed] upon the tops of small and insecure stakes or posts, he … instructed the prison guard stationed around the top of said stockade to fire upon and kill any of the prisoners aforesaid who might touch, fall upon, pass over or under or across the said “dead line” ...

—Report of the Secretary of War, October 1865

In other words, this deadliest of all deadlines was a line Wirz implemented just inside the inner wall of Camp Sumter. Any prisoner wandering beyond the line would immediately be killed.

Stories like this were all the evidence the court needed: Wirz was found guilty of violating the rights of wartime prisoners, and was hanged on the morning of November 10, 1865.

Widespread press reports of Wirz’s trial and the horrors of Camp Sumter soon led to the word deadline being popularized, and eventually it passed into everyday use—thankfully in a less severe sense.

By the early 20th century, the word’s military connotations had all but disappeared and the familiar meaning of the deadlines we meet—or miss—today emerged by the early 1920s.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios