Thursday, June 02, 2005


What you can learn at camp

In the aftermath of the Mark-Felt-is-Deep-Throat revelation, John Woestendiek of the Baltimore Sun has reviewed the success or failure of the Deep-Throat sleuths.

The most amazing of these was Chase Culeman-Beckman, who revealed the identity of Deep Throat in a high-school paper in the late 90s.

Born well after Watergate, Culeman-Beckman was 8 when, he says, Post reporter Carl Bernstein's son Jacob revealed the identity of Deep Throat to him at a summer day camp in 1988.

Except for telling his mother, Culeman-Beckman would keep the secret for nearly 10 years - until spilling the beans in a high school research paper.

In a 1999 Hartford Courant article about Culeman-Beckman's disclosure, Felt denied that he was "Deep Throat." Bernstein said in an interview that neither he nor reporting partner Bob Woodward had ever told their wives or children their source's identity.

The name meant nothing to Culeman-Beckman when he heard it in 1988. Now a graduate student at Cornell University, Culeman-Beckman could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"I'm 100 percent sure that Deep Throat was Mark Felt," he quoted Bernstein's son as saying. "He's someone in the FBI." Culeman-Beckman told the Courant that the boy attributed the information to his father.

After the article, Bernstein, his son and his son's mother, author and director Nora Ephron, all denied that Bernstein had told anyone the identity of "Deep Throat." Ephron said then that she concluded on her own that it was Felt.

To Culeman-Beckman, turnabout was fair play.

"They've been cute about it long enough," Culeman-Beckman said at the time. "I just think if it's fair of them to dethrone a president, for all intents and purposes, and not tell anyone their source, I don't see why it's not fair for a person like myself to come forward. ... Let the cards fall where they may. There's a chance this could be the answer to one of the greatest political mysteries of our time."

In 1999 Timothy Noah ("Chatterbox") of Slate picked up the story and quoted from Culeman-Beckman's paper—

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."

Bernstein and his wife Nora Ephron denied at the time that Jacob could have known this and said that he was only "repeating his mother's guesswork."

Still. Camp, hyphenated name, "dethrone a president," Greenwich Country Day School? It pays to run with the in-crowd.

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