I hadn't seen Deep Throat in a long time. He said he had been out on the lecture circuit and didn't get to Washington too often.

"What did you want to see me about?" I asked him.

"I know who shot J.R. on 'Dallas,'" he said. "And it's no one mentioned so far."

"You mean it wasn't J.R.'s alcoholic wife, or his spurned mistress Kristin, or one of his brothers, or one of the long list of men J.R. cheated in deals?"

Deep Throat shook his head.

"What about J.R.'s mother? She could have plugged him to save the rest of the family."

"They're all red herrings," Deep Throat said. "No one on the 'dallas' show did it."

"Then who did?"

"David Brinkley."

"Brinkley? Our David Brinkley?"

"It's a long story. But believe me, I've got it straight. Tell Katharine Graham she can go with it. When Brinkley decided to give up his chores on NBC's nightly news, the powers that be said they wanted him to head up a magazine show similar to '60 Minutes' and '20/20.' Freddie Silverman, the big enchilada at NBC, told David he could have anyone he wanted for the show and complete control of its content. Silverman said he would back Brinkley 1,000 percent because he wanted to give NBC News the respectability it so richly deserved.

"David took the assignment, hired a first-class crew of reporters, editors and producers and was ready to go. Then Silverman broke the news to him that he was putting the program opposite CBS' 'Dallas,' the most popular show on television."

"That must have thrilled Brinkley."

"On the contrary -- he got sick. While he was in the hospital he decided he had only one choice: He would have to shoot J.R. to save his show."

"I know Brinkley. He doesn't appear to be a man who would resort to violence."

"TV ratings do strange things to people," Deep Throat said. "Brinkley hated J.R. more than anyone in this country. J.R. was a louse, a rotter, a man who would seduce his own sister-in-law just for laughs. He did terrible things to people -- but the nastier he became, the more he was looked upon as a cult hero by the 200 or 300 million people around the world who watched his show. Brinkley figured if he knocked off J.R. he would not only save his own program but do away with one of the more despicable characters on television."

"Okay," I said, "so he had a motive. But how did he manage to pull it off?"

"Brinkley said he was going to Dallas to do a favorable windfall profits story on the oil companies. He called J.R. and told him he wanted to feature the Ewing Oil Co. because it represented everything that was good in the petroleum industry. He made an appointment to film J.R. at his office late at night, when no one was around."

"What about witnesses? Brinkley's face is known all over the country.

"NBC's makeup man supplied Brinkley with Burt Reynolds' toupee and Gene Shalit's mustache. Nobody recognized him."

"So he went to J.R.'s office late at night and plugged him with two shots?" I said.

"You got it. David had it all thought through. By the time the shooting was shown on the air, Brinkley would be doing his show live on the other network. Even if he was a suspect he would have the perfect alibi."

"The only trouble was that J.R. didn't die. The hospital pulled him through, and now the show has bigger ratings than ever," I said.

"That was Brinkley's biggest mistake. He only fired two bullets. Everyone knows that it would take more than two bullets to send J.R. to that Great Oil Field in the sky."

"Do the producers of 'Dallas' know David did it?"

"Probably, but they're going to blame it on someone in the show just to hold their audience."

"What's Brinkley going to do now?" I asked Deep Throat.

"It's just a rumor around the NBC shop, but they say that Brinkley keeps muttering that if he doesn't get another time slot for the magazine show he's going to shoot Freddie Silverman."