So, "Deep Throat" finally talked on the record.
He didn't really reveal much in his interview this week with Larry King, nor are there any startling revelations in his new autobiography, "A G-Man's Life."
But then, he was always pretty stingy with his information. That's what made him so intriguing for more than 30 years.
The intrigue is gone now. W. Mark Felt, who was the No. 2 man in the FBI during the Nixon admin- istration and is remembered by former Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee as "one tough SOB," is 92 years old. The man who once had most of the answers to the Watergate mystery no longer has the memories.
In his book, co-written with John O'Connor, Felt makes only passing first-person reference to his role as the iconic anonymous source.
"I met with (reporter Bob) Wood- ward over the next few months," he writes in the chapter about the FBI's investigation of Watergate.
Other than that, his "memories of that period have almost entirely faded," O'Connor writes.
Still, a certain anticipation sur- rounded America's first chance to hear directly from the man who, in a dark parking garage, advised Woodward to "follow the money."
"No, I don't recall ever saying that," he told King as they sat at a table in Felt's Santa Rosa home.
Back live in King's studio, Wood- ward said he never claimed Deep Throat had whispered those words.
"It was not in 'All the President's Men,'" Woodward said of the book that summarized his and Carl Bernstein's Watergate reporting. "It was something a screenwriter put in" to the movie of the same name.
For years, some speculated that Deep Throat himself was a writer's fictional composite. But there he was on Tuesday, with his snappy red jacket and his bright blue eyes, chat- ting with TV's top talk-show host.
For any student of politics and journalism, it was a goose bump moment. Here was the man who helped bring down a president, ready to reveal his motives after three decades of anonymity and silence.
"Why did you do it?" King asked.
"I don't remember doing that," Felt answered.
King, who was mostly gentle and gracious, pressed just a little.
"Did you know he (Woodward) would bring down a presidency?"
"No. I didn't know that," Felt said. "No. I would have disapproved of anything that he did along that line."
The book offers only a little more perspective. Felt writes that he was moti- vated not by bitterness at being passed over to replace J. Edgar Hoover, but by loyalty and patriot- ism. Nixon's people were frustrating the Watergate investigation - "dealing with the White House in this case reminded me of pursuing the Mafia" - and he feared for the FBI's autonomy and reputation.
"I did what I had to do to protect the country - and the Bureau," he writes.
Anyone looking for juicy details or deeper insights into "the man they used to call Deep Throat" might have been disappointed by his TV appearance. Bradlee, who'll be 85 himself in a couple of months, said seeing the formerly tough FBI man so diminished was "sort of sad."
But Felt didn't seem sad. Though confused at times, he appeared to enjoy talking with King.