Limbaugh falsely claimed media didn't mention "Deep Throat" Mark Felt's conviction, pardon

››› ››› NICOLE CASTA

Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that "no major media outlet or even cable news shows" have mentioned in their "Deep Throat" coverage that W. Mark Felt had been convicted, and later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan, for authorizing illegal break-ins unrelated to Watergate. In fact, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, PBS, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times all noted Felt's conviction and pardon following Vanity Fair's May 31 announcement that its July issue would identify Felt as the famous unnamed source whom Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relied on in their reporting on the Watergate scandal.

From the June 1 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: We had the news on the program yesterday that Felt had been pardoned, and I found it interesting that for most of yesterday and last night, no major media outlet or even cable news show mentioned his conviction for ordering illegal break-ins.

Following are major media outlets and cable news shows that mentioned Felt's conviction and pardon on May 31 or in the June 1 edition of newspapers that appeared prior to Limbaugh's broadcast:

NBC

ANDREA MITCHELL (NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent): In 1980, Felt was convicted of illegal FBI break-ins against antiwar radicals and later pardoned by Ronald Reagan. Admirers say Felt was trying to protect the FBI. Writing about Watergate in a 1979 memoir, Felt wrote, "The reputation of the FBI is at stake." [Nightly News, 5/31/05]

MSNBC

PAT BUCHANAN (MSNBC analyst and former Nixon speechwriter): He [Felt] was later indicted and convicted of a matter which I thought he shouldn't have been. He was pardoned by Ronald Reagan. [Hardball with Chris Matthews, 5/31/05]

ABC

CHRIS BURY (Nightline correspondent): Ironically enough, Mark Felt shares one unusual connection with the president he helped bring down. Like Richard Nixon, Felt received a presidential pardon -- in his case, for a 1980 conspiracy conviction on illegal FBI break-ins against friends and relatives of the militant organization Weather Underground. In coming forward now, in the twilight of his life, Mark Felt and his family clearly felt that he had one final opportunity to define his Watergate legacy in his terms. That the mystery man known for all these years as Deep Throat be remembered not as a snitch, but a hero. [Nightline, 5/31/05]

PBS

DAVID GERGEN (former presidential adviser): I mean, Mark Felt, people say, well, he was a man of honor, but listen, Charlie, this was a fellow who was -- Mark Felt was a fellow who was pardoned -- pardoned -- by Ronald Reagan in 1981 for his part in burglaries undertaken by the FBI against the Weathermen and apparently against -- possibly against others. [The Charlie Rose Show, 5/31/05]

CNN

JUDY WOODRUFF (CNN host): In 1978, the former agent was indicted for approving other Nixon-era break-ins, raids on leftist antiwar groups. He was convicted and later pardoned by Ronald Reagan. And then, Mark Felt slipped into obscurity, until now. [Prerecorded segment shown on Anderson Cooper 360, 5/31/05, and Paula Zahn Now, 5/31/05]

BRIAN TODD (CNN correspondent): So Mark Felt may always be associated with a certain contradiction and irony. In the late '70s, he was charged with violating the constitutional rights of American citizens by authorizing government agents to break into the homes of bombing suspects. That case dated back to the early '70s, when he was still with the FBI. Felt was convicted on that charge, but later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan. [Wolf Blitzer Reports, 5/31/05]

CNN Headline News

A.J. HAMMER (co-host): So who is W. Mark Felt? We know that Felt was indicted in 1978 for approving some other break-ins during Nixon's administration. President Reagan later pardoned him for the 1978 indictment, and in 1999, Felt told The Hartford Courant he was not Deep Throat. [Showbiz Tonight, 5/31/05]

The Washington Post

In 1980, Felt and another senior FBI veteran were convicted of conspiring nearly a decade earlier to violate the civil rights of domestic dissidents in the Weather Underground movement; President Ronald Reagan then issued a pardon. [David Von Drehle, "FBI's No. 2 Was 'Deep Throat,'" published 6/1/05, before Limbaugh's broadcast]

The New York Times

But much of the most serious and informed speculation has long centered on the F.B.I., and on Mr. Felt, who was convicted in 1980 on unrelated charges of authorizing government agents to break into homes secretly, without search warrants, in a search for anti-Vietnam-War bombing suspects from the radical Weather Underground in 1972 and 1973. Five months later, President Ronald Reagan pardoned him on the grounds that he had "acted on high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation." [Todd S. Purdum, "F.B.I. Official Revealed He Was Watergate Source in Interview," 5/31/05]

Los Angeles Times

In November 1980, Felt and Edward S. Miller, then head of the FBI's intelligence division, were convicted of authorizing break-ins without warrants into the homes of members of the Weathermen in the 1970s, a radical antiwar group. ... Although President Ronald Reagan later granted the two men full pardons, O'Connor, the attorney and author of the article, noted that Felt blamed the prosecution for contributing to the death of his wife in 1984. [Richard B. Schmitt, "Washington Post Confirms W. Mark Felt at FBI Was Watergate's 'Deep Throat," 5/31/05]

Stories/Interests
Misrepresentations of Nixon/Watergate, Past Politicians
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