Mark Felt, the former FBI official who will be remembered by history as the anonymous source Deep Throat, died Thursday at the age of 95.
Felt gave crucial tips to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the Watergate scandal, which helped topple President Richard Nixon.
After denying he was Deep Throat for 33 years, Felt came clean in 2005. Woodward, now an associate editor at the Washington Post, says that came as a surprise.
"Carl Bernstein and I were kind of horrified at the time," Woodward tells Michele Norris. "But we came to realize that it actually was good because Felt was able to do his own book with his lawyer. It kind of cleared the air on the whole issue of who he was and why he spoke to us."
Woodward says Felt was loyal to the FBI's longtime powerful Director J. Edgar Hoover for decades. Part of Felt's motivation for talking, Woodward said, was that six weeks before Watergate, Hoover died and Felt was passed over for a promotion by someone he considered a "political hack."
"I think also part of it was the lawbreaking," Woodward says. "Probably the most important thing that Mark Felt told me was simply that Watergate was not isolated — that it was a part of a series of secret activities to spy on Democrats, sabotage their campaigns. And also that was a mindset, which was the Nixon mindset of 'We are above the law; we are not accountable to anyone.' And I think Felt was willing to guide us."
Woodward says Felt encouraged Woodward and Bernstein to keep digging and pointed them in the right direction throughout the newspaper's Watergate investigation.
"He was, in a sense, a super-assignment editor and a super-source rolled into one," Woodward says.
Felt was close to Hoover, opposed allowing female FBI agents and supported the bugging of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Woodward says Felt was an old-style FBI man to the core.
"In the end, I think he is and will be seen as a man of courage," he says.