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King and Felt

Normally, I'd opt for any episode of The Andy Griffith Show on TVLand before I'd tune in to Larry King's blabfest on CNN. But tonight, he is interviewing W. Mark Felt, the nonagenarian who, after three decades, finally came out of the closet in last year's Vanity Fair expose as "Deep Throat."

This meeeting certainly has high curiosity value. The Vanity Fair piece makes it clear that Bob Woodward harbored some doubts about the mental acuity of his famous source. Here's a relevant passage describing efforts to get Woodward to cooperate with the release of Felt's identity:

Felt had come to an interim decision: he would "cooperate," but only with the assistance of Bob Woodward. Acceding to his wishes, Joan and I spoke to Woodward by phone on a half-dozen occasions over a period of months about whether to make a joint revelation, possibly in the form of a book or an article. Woodward would sometimes begin these conversations with a caveat, saying, more or less, "Just because I'm talking to you, I'm not admitting that he is who you think he is." Then he'd express his chief concerns, which were twofold, as I recall. First, was this something that Joan and I were pushing on Felt, or did he actually want to reveal himself of his own accord? (I interpreted this to mean: was he changing the long-standing agreement the men had kept for three decades?) Second, was Felt actually in a clear mental state? To make his own assessment, Woodward told Joan and me, he wanted to come out and sit down with her father again, not having seen him since their lunch.

"We went through a period where he did call a bit," Joan says of her discussions with Woodward. (Nick says he sometimes answered the phone and spoke with him, too.) "He's always been very gracious. We talked about doing a book with Dad, and I think he was considering. That was my understanding. He didn't say no at first.... Then he kept kind of putting me off on this book, saying, 'Joan, don't press me.' … For him the issue was competency: was Dad competent to release him from the agreement the two of them had made not to say anything until after Dad died?

Meanwhile, as the New York Observer has reported, there have been rumors about both King's job security at CNN and about the overall state of his health and command.

And here's a transcript from a recent show when King confused Newsweek's Michael Iskikoff for Time magazine's Michael Weisskopf. (Okay, the two names kind of sound alike. They both end in "cough.')

KING: How are you doing physically?
ISIKOFF: I'm doing fine.
KING: Well, you lost what...
ISIKOFF: Why do you ask?
KING: Because you were injured.
ISIKOFF: No, no, no. I'm sorry. You're thinking of my -- of Michael Weisskopf [of] Time magazine."

So if nothing else, it's worth watching tonight to see who's sharper -- the aging talkmaster or the ancient whistleblower.

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