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Deep Throat: Why the piecemeal approach?


John Simkin
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In the book, All The President’s Men, Woodward speculates on why Deep Throat used his “piecemeal approach”. It is something that has always fascinated me. Why for example, did he for several weeks say that he would not say anything to implicate Haldeman? He tells Woodward he will have to find out about him on his own. However, later he does provide a great deal of information on Haldeman.

Woodward concludes that there were two possible reasons why Deep Throat adopted this “piecemeal approach”.

(1) If Deep Throat told Woodward all the information he had at once the ‘Plumbers’ would know who was leaking the story. Woodward rightly rejects this idea. After all, Woodward, could have been getting this information from several different sources.

(2) That Deep Throat wanted to do maximum damage to Nixon. He therefore wanted to keep it on the front page for as long as possible. Woodward opts for this explanation. However, if Deep Throat wanted to do maximum damage to Nixon surely he would have leaked the full story before the election.

It seems to me that the main reason for this “piecemeal approach” was that Deep Throat was trying to shape the investigation. Several times in the book Woodward and Bernstein claim that Watergate and the campaign against the potential Democratic candidates was not the full story. However, that is all they got. What was the full story? Dorothy Hunt claimed that their was much more to this story. Is this why Bernstein and Woodward did not follow-up her death? (See my recent posting on Dorothy Hunt). Is that what Deep Throat’s main role was?

I suspect that Deep Throat initially started off by trying to protect Nixon. He only provides information about Nixon when it becomes impossible to protect him any longer (after Dean has testified about Nixon’s role in the cover-up). Deep Throat was obviously not only protecting Nixon. He was protecting those involved in the more serious aspects of the case that were never disclosed.

Deep Throat seems to be well informed about the White House, CIA and the FBI. He is especially knowledgeable about the FBI investigation. Interestingly, he never provides information about the limited investigation of the burglary. For example, it later emerged that the FBI made no attempt to contact the people listed in Howard Hunt’s address book. This included people who were involved with Hunt in domestic covert activities. It seems strange that the FBI were uninterested in these activities.

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