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October 10, 1980

Investigative Reporting and Pornography

JAMA. 1980;244(15):1720. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310150056035

Was it a coincidence that the archetypal conspirator of investigative reporting, Deep Throat, was named for a character in a pornographic movie? The journalists who originated the name probably viewed it simply as a clever metaphor for their well-placed informant. But now, almost ten years later, Deep Throat is the patron saint of investigative reporting. He is honored by hundreds of votaries who, touched by the miracle of Watergate, have taken their vows in this clandestine subcategory of personal journalism. The actual identity of Deep Throat is still debated, but I believe that the metaphorical identity of Deep Throat holds more importance today. Is the Deep Throat who beckons the investigative reporter into that back alley, in reality, Liberty with her blindfold off and itching to restore the balance of justice? Or is it a deceptive siren, who, Lorelei-like, will hypnotize the reporter onto the rocks of rumor and misinformation?