And the walrus was Paul

Long before Vanity Fair broke its exclusive, a teenager used anagrams and a tip from Carl Bernstein's son to out "Deep Throat."

Published May 31, 2005 7:41PM (EDT)

Add one more name to the list of people who cracked the "Deep Throat" riddle before Vanity Fair claims to have done so: Chase Culeman-Beckman, who was once a summer camp friend of one of Carl Bernstein's kids.

In 1999, Culeman-Beckman, then a 19-year-old kid on his way to college, told the Hartford Courant that Bernstein's son, Jacob, had told him a decade earlier that W. Mark Felt was "Deep Throat." But Culeman-Beckman didn't rely solely on the alleged say-so of young Jacob. He studied "All the President's Men," and he found in it a clue: A spot in the book where Woodward refers to "Deep Throat" as "My Friend." It's capital letters, see? My Friend . . . Mark Felt? "Had I not discovered this, I probably would have dropped my investigation right there and then," young Culeman-Beckman told Salon's Amy Reiter soon after the Courant broke his story.

Doubting that the My Friend/Mark Felt thing was "just happenstance," the intrepid Culeman-Beckman pressed on. He held pages of Woodward and Bernstein's "The Final Days" up to a mirror for secret messages; he ran a ruler up and down the pages to see if he could find the words "Mark Felt" embedded in the text. But he came up empty until he turned to . . . anagrams. If you take the first and last letters from "The Final," then rearrange them just right, you come up with "Felt." And if you use letters from the rest of the title -- and then the whole title itself -- you can get yourself to "FELT HAD SAY IN THE FINAL DAYS."

"Yet another coincidence?" Culeman-Beckman asked. "It seems doubtful." We mocked -- we mock -- but what if he was right?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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