Deep Throat Old News to Student

Now that Mark Felt has owned up to being Nixon nemesis Deep Throat, I hope the media tracks down Chase Culeman-Beckman.

As recounted in Slate, Culeman-Beckman made news six years ago by claiming that he learned Deep Throat's identity 10 years earlier at summer camp.

The 19-year-old college student broke one of the biggest news stories of the 20th century in a paper for his school, which Slate quotes:

I was in the "Herons" group along with about fifteen other 8, 9, and 10 year olds ... One Friday in July we went on a trip to Long Beach, Sag Harbor, and Jacob, Max and I ended up sitting in the sand precociously talking about politics. It was an election year and I was in favor of George Bush because he had gone to the Greenwich Country Day School where I was attending, while Jacob and Max were for Michael Dukakis, although I do not remember why. At some point, the conversation turned to Nixon and Watergate ... which I knew little, if nothing, about. During the conversation Jacob told me: "Deep Throat was Mark Felt, he's someone in the FBI. I'm 100% sure."

I hope he got an A.

Update: A paper found Culeman-Beckman, who never believed Carl Bernstein's denial that his 8-year-old son could have found him out.

Comments

This is a rather misleading picture of what happened. Berstein refused to tell his wife, writer Nora Ephron, so she became obsessed with trying to figure it out. She researched all the possibilities and, presumably, used whatever additional knowledge of Bernstein she had to figure it out and became convinced it was Mark Felt. Her son heard her talking about this and it's based on that that he made the claim at summer camp. So it's not like he was working from any privileged knowledge as most of these reports imply.

Interesting that you take Carl Bernstein's story at face value, when he had no choice but to deny Culeman-Beckman's claim six years ago. Otherwise, he'd be outing Felt.

People lie. Felt himself lied in a book he wrote in the late '70s.

It's possible that Bernstein's son was passing along his mother's speculation instead of his father's knowledge.

However, even if true, that wouldn't change the fact that Culeman-Beckman has been proven right about Felt, and beating the story by six years is a hell of an achievement for a school paper.

It's not just Carl Bernstein's story, it's Nora Ephron's and both have re-insisted on it since Deep Throat was revealed. Especially considering Nora's HuffPo post, the alternative story just doesn't make sense. Why would she go around blabbing Deep Throat's identity and trash-talking her ex-husband but not connect the two if she could?

The problem is that when there's many speculations, it's easy to go back after the fact and see who was right. But before the answer, it's very hard to see who is right, and who is speculating but wrong.

Worked example: Who is the likely-hoax of a blogger "Belle De Jour", an author claiming to be a prostitute (literal, not metaphysical). There's some good speculations, but no solid evidence to establish any of them (and the professor who tried literary forensics got it embarassingly wrong).

Why would she go around blabbing Deep Throat's identity and trash-talking her ex-husband but not connect the two if she could?

That suggests Ephron is telling the truth, but exes have odd relationships, as I learned growing up with divorced parents.

Ephron and Bernstein divorced 25 years ago, and she famously lampooned his faults in the film Heartburn. Would she take any opportunity she could to slag him today, so long after their split? We really can't know the answer to that without knowing them.

I too disbelieved the Bernstein denial that he had told his son until I read Ephron's post on HuffPo. She was pretty into the case, had read a lot, and had specific reasons for her "guess." Her jokey attitude about it also rings true. (The Slate guy also believes her.)

Does it really matter if Chase Culeman-Beckman said it or not, or if/what Ephron said? Fact it there is real doubt whether Felt was (the only) Deep Throat, after all. I find the "composite theory" more attractive. It is clear from what Felt's daughter said, they're just in it for the money and dementia has apparently taken too much hold on Mr. Felt for him to shed any real light on this subject. (http://deepthroat.name)

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