1972. Following the death of fifty year FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who the last three Presidents had considered firing, FBI outsider L. Patrick Gray is appointed Acting Director. Associate Director Mark Felt, a dedicated, loyal and meticulous employee of the Bureau for thirty years, and his wife Audrey, feel his being passed over for the job is a major snub, they who have sacrificed their own personal lives for the Bureau. Part of that sacrifice is not being able to devote time in locating the Felts’ daughter, Joan Felt, who they have not heard from in a year, they only assuming that her going off their radar being on her own volition in her anti-establishment ideals. Felt not getting the job is arguably due to his being such an integral figure in the controversial Hoover tenure. One of the first cases for the Bureau in Gray’s tenure is a break-in at and bugging of the Democratic National Committee offices, the case unofficially called Watergate for the complex in which the break-in occurred. Ordered by Gray by what seems to be unofficial orders passed down from the White House, FBI staff are hamstrung in their investigation, Watergate which has seeming ties to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President and thus possibly the Republican administration in the White House. For the first time in his career, Felt decides to go rogue in an effort for the FBI to gain back its independence without interference by any other organization, including especially the White House. Those rogue actions are largely the treasonous offense of leaking FBI information into the Watergate investigation to the media, first to his friend, Time reporter Sandy Smith, then to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, their source – Felt – known in the public mindset through the code name, Deep Throat. Through the process, Felt tries to protect himself from discovery and protect his FBI associates from innuendo each as possibly being Deep Throat, which becomes more and more difficult with the reelection of Richard Nixon, his administration which uses every tool in their legal and illegal toolbox, including through their patsy, Gray, to discover the identity of Deep Throat.—Huggo
Mark Felt did not choose Bob Woodward at random from the Washington Post’s roster of reporters. Felt and Woodward had known each other for a few years with the two having initially met one another while Woodward was serving in the U.S. Navy as an Admiral’s aide. In fact Woodward had sought out Felt’s advice on his future when his discharge from the Navy was approaching.