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Deep Throat Un-Revealed

NEW YORK -- Some 30 years after Watergate, the attempt to identify the whistle-blower who helped unearth the Nixon administration's transgressions and brought down the president (aka `Deep Throat') has become a kind of geek science usually found...

NEW YORK — Some 30 years after Watergate, the attempt to identify the whistle-blower who helped unearth the Nixon administration’s transgressions and brought down the president (aka `Deep Throat’) has become a kind of geek science usually found only among JFK assassination buffs, Roswell conspiracy theorists and original series Trekkies.

That became painfully obvious at the “Deep Throat Revealed” symposium Tuesday, sponsored by news journal The Week, at the unlikely venue of Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in the Grand Central Terminal balcony. The event attracted an eclectic, somewhat fashion-challenged group of panelists and attendees including former Mayflower Madam Sydney Biddle Barrows; former senator George McGovern; inside.com founder and former Spy editor Kurt Andersen; former White House counsel John Dean, and lots of other people who were formerly something.

Dean took the stage alongside Andersen and moderator Harry Evans. Responding to the surround-sound train station noise, Dean quipped: “I learned a long time ago that small microphones pick up my voice very clearly.” Andersen piped up that trying to unmask Deep Throat has become the “great parlor game of our time” and then proceeded to reuse that expression with almost unbearable frequency. The problem was, despite the actual title of the symposium, Dean wasn’t going to reveal the identity of Deep Throat. Instead, he teased the audience by narrowing people off his current list of suspects in a kind of Watergate version of Clue.

On Al Haig: “I first thought it was Al, but didn’t name him because I thought it would have made him a more viable presidential candidate.” (And Bob Woodward actually confirmed that it wasn’t him.)

On Diane Sawyer: “The reason Diane doesn’t work is that she wasn’t in Nixon’s inner circle.”

On FBI official W. Mark Felt, Andersen said, “A friend told me Woodward calls Deep Throat `my friend’ in the book [“All The President’s Men”], and those initials `MF’ are the same as Mark Felt.”

Dean wouldn’t speculate on the others, who included Pat Buchanan, Ron Ziegler, and Jonathan Rose (who threatened Dean with a lawsuit if he named him). The press corps eventually grew deflated as it became apparent that “Deep Throat Revealed” was just another patented form of seminar hype. But there were some worthwhile moments, as when Andersen said, “The fact that we’re doing this 30 years later may reveal how pathetic we are.”

At the end of the session, Sydney Biddle Barrows commented on the Deep Throat controversy. “I’d like to know who it is, but I understand Dean’s position. I have a professional and personal aversion to naming names.””