Deep Throat, the never-named tale teller who helped thread the maze of the Watergate scandal, is portrayed in a new book as an invented composite, not a single, rock-solid news source.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters whose digging is credited with doing the most to unravel Watergate a quarter-century ago, insist Deep Throat is a real person, a source whose identity they have sworn to protect until his death.The new accuser is David Obst, a former book agent who helped Wood-ward and Bernstein sell "All the President's Men," their account of how they covered Watergate.

Obst contends that Deep Throat is fiction, a made-up composite intended to bring excitement to the Woodward and Bernstein book and the movie it inspired. The agent's book, "Too Good to be Forgotten," is an account of his adventures in the 1960s and 1970s.

Offering no concrete evidence, Obst claims that Deep Throat cannot come forward to be congratulated for his role in Watergate "because he does not exist."

"That is just totally wrong," Woodward said in an interview. "He has no evidence of it. It is all surmise and speculation. He had nothing to do with writing the book. He helped sell our book, and now it's obvious he's trying to market his own book.

"What I'm saying is categorical," Woodward said: "This book is just absolutely and totally wrong and misinformed."

Bernstein was equally firm.

"Deep Throat does exist," he told the New York Post. "He was and is one person - exactly who we have said, a highly placed official in the Executive Branch. If we had made up Deep Throat we would have been fired."

So who is Deep Throat?

"I'd love to reveal it this afternoon," Woodward said. "But not doing it helps me when I tell people I'm serious about keeping confidential sources confidential."