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On the Condition of AnonymityUnnamed Sources and the Battle for Journalism$
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Matt Carlson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780252035999

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252035999.001.0001

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Deep Throat and the Question of Motives

Deep Throat and the Question of Motives

(p.91) 4 Deep Throat and the Question of Motives
On the Condition of Anonymity

Matt Carlson

University of Illinois Press

This chapter begins two weeks after Newsweek's retraction when Vanity Fair ended over thirty years of speculation by revealing the famous Watergate-era unnamed source Deep Throat to be Mark Felt, an ex-FBI official. In contrast to the other incidents, the journalism community celebrated Deep Throat as a triumph of unnamed source use. Drawing on the collective memory of Watergate, journalists reaffirmed the value of using unnamed sources to expose wrongdoing. The heroic interpretation of Felt encountered resistance from others who questioned Felt's motives and actions. In the larger view, these critics railed against anonymity by promoting an alternative normative argument suggesting government employees should work internally to resolve issues rather than in public through journalists.

Keywords:   Deep Throat, Mark Felt, Watergate, Vanity Fair, Felt's motives, anonymity

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