Deep Thoughts

So Mark Felt was Deep Throat. It’s like having a magic trick explained, isn’t it? A mystery is never as fun once the answer’s been revealed…

The Washington Post has confirmed that the great American writer Mark Twain was Deep Neck, the anonymous source who leaked secret information during the Whiskey Ring scandal of the 1870s and helped force the resignation of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant in August 1874. The Whiskey Ring was a conspiracy among politicians, government agents, whiskey distillers, and distributors to siphon off millions of dollars in federal liquor taxes. Deep Neck urged investigators to “follow the whiskey,” and ultimately exposed the rampant corruption in Grant’s administration. A movie adaptation of the story is planned—Hal Holbrook will play the lead role.

The Washington Post has confirmed that Captain Obediah Marsh was Deep One, the monstrous batrachian fish-human hybrid who leaked milt or fish oil or something onto the narrator of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” and helped bring about a secret government raid on the city of Innsmouth in August 1934. “Stupendous and unheard-of splendors await me below, and I shall seek them soon,” Marsh told Vanity Fair. “We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y’ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.”

The Washington Post has confirmed that chess prodigy Bobby Fischer was Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer that defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in August 1996. Deep Blue is a massively parallel, 32-node RS/6000 SP high-performance computer, which actually means nothing. During the supercomputer’s matches with Kasparov, whirring wheels of tape and a series of randomly blinking lights distracted observers from the secret wooden panel behind which Fischer could be cunningly concealed. Fischer completed the illusion by announcing his moves in a robotic monotone. But the deception unraveled in recent years as Deep Blue became increasingly paranoid and erratic, interrupting numerous matches with misogynist and anti-Semitic outbursts. It is possible that Fischer believed he was acting out the endgame of some eighteenth-century grudge match between Benjamin Franklin and the wooden chess-playing Turk. Fischer told reporters, “you won’t have Poor Richard to kick around any more.”

The Washington Post has confirmed that B-list comedian Murray Langston was the Unknown Comic, the paper-bag wearing Gong Show regular who sounded the show’s eponymous gong and helped force the resignation of Gene Gene the Dancing Machine in August 1976. Langston was a member of the so-called “plumbers,” a special operations unit organized by chief White House counsel Charles “Chuck” Barris. (White House officials leaked Barris’ secret identity as a CIA operative in the 2002 film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.) In September 1971, Langston organized a burglary of the office of psychiatrist Dr. Joyce Brothers along with confederates Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller, and Jamie Farr. They could not be reached for comment, but unindicted co-conspirator Arte Johnson declared the revelations “verrrrry interesting.”

I bookmarked a few Watergate links for you in the “Shiny New-ish Links” column to the right. One of them is David Brooks using Deep Throat as a kind of post-Watergate commencement address: In America, any little boy or girl can grow up to bring down a crooked president. Brooks closes by calling Woodward and Bernstein modern Horatio Algers, “two young men who slew the dragon, became rich and famous, and were played by Redford and Hoffman.” Here’s where I advertise my immaturity: I liked All The President’s Men fine, but Redford’s Woodward and Hoffman’s Bernstein have been forever eclipsed in my mind by Will Ferrell and Bruce McCullough in the odd little 1999 movie Dick.