Does it matter who Deep Throat is?…

Yes, it does. It matters to history.

That said, I agree with Stanley I. Kutler, writing in Slate, and others who claim there is far more to the story of Watergate and its impact on America than a silly hunt for one person among the many who leaked information to the press. As Kutler says:

“The real story of Watergate is infinitely richer and more complex than the press-centric version. We essentially know what happened, but we continue to unravel and expand the complexity, motivations, and meaning of Watergate. New materials emerge, and our insights grow.”

But I think Kutler misses an important point. Deep Throat is certainly a character in a press-centric view of Watergate, but he is also an important character in a new American myth of the press-politics relationship. You’ll recall that, until Watergate, much of the shenanigans in Washington went unreported and overlooked with a wink. Deep Throat represents Americans who can no longer wink. “Woodstein” represents the reporter who can no longer look the other way.

Was this a change for the better? Hmmmmm…

Pat Buchanan, speaking on MSNBC Monday night, called Deep throat a “literary device.” This does not mean that Deep Throat doesn’t exist in fact (or that Buchanan is not he). It means that Deep Throat represents something that “Woodstein” thought important to portray: A person willing to betray a President for, perhaps, moral and ethical reasons. Yes, this plays into a press-centric view. But that does not take away Deep Throat’s importance as a mythic character. It makes us yearn to know him.