The History Channel’s multi-part series is blatant anti-Trump Democrat propaganda.
By S.T. Patrick
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. In that closing statement, director Charles Ferguson reminds us that “Watergate,” his six-part documentary, is not as much about reassessing the twilight of Richard Nixon’s presidency as it is a less-than-subtle commentary on President Donald Trump.
As further evidence, consider the documentary’s full title: “Watergate—Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President.” The phrase “learned to stop” implies that the roadmap has already been documented. It is the execution of the roadmap that must now commence. Also consider that its three-night airing on the History Channel occurred throughout the weekend before the mid-term elections. At that point, it also becomes a Democratic Party campaign ad.
Ferguson knows three categories of Republicans in the film. There are those Watergate Committee senators and FBI/Justice Department appointees who bravely stand up against Nixon’s tyrannical discretions. There are interviewees such as Pat Buchanan, who Ferguson “corrects” after most of Buchanan’s remarks. Lastly, there are the evil stalwarts of “Berlin Wall” loyalism who protect Nixon from the real world and continuously offer increasingly illegal advice. These are the Haldemans, Ehrlichmans, and Colsons of the White House. There were no good men who remained loyal, according to Ferguson’s premise, though this is probably the correct category in which Buchanan belongs. It may also be a veiled warning to those appointees, aids, and staffers within the Trump administration.
One figure that is left unjudged is John Dean, the White House counsel from 1970-1973. While the personality traits of Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, and Nixon are all cartoonishly emphasized by laughable dramatizations, Dean is portrayed as offering the smart, if not always legal, advice. He is also someone whom Ferguson relies on heavily via interview.
Dean finally admitted to one count of conspiracy after having testified to the Senate Watergate Committee under “use immunity,” which meant that nothing he said could be used to prosecute him later. He was never given the full immunity he had desired, though MSNBC has done everything in its power to rehab Dean’s image.
Because Dean’s testimony before the committee, as well as in Ferguson’s treatment, drove the story, nothing was mentioned of his link to the break-in or the Heidi Rikan call-girl ring that was operating out of the Democratic National Committee (the ring for which author Phil Stanford has since provided photographic evidence). Gen. Alexander Haig, Haldeman’s replacement as chief of staff, also goes unscathed throughout the four-plus hours. Ferguson received an immense amount of cooperation from Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Therefore, though Haig has been tied to Woodward, well before the Watergate years, by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Thomas Moorer, Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, and a Pentagon spokesman, it is never mentioned.
Deep Throat is still identified as FBI Deputy Associate Director Mark Felt and is only briefly mentioned. Without Dean as a major factor in the break-ins and without Haig pushing the downfall, what we have in the film isn’t truth. Instead, it’s a glorification of textbook history, and it’s the kind of mainstream media mythology that continues to be pushed in order to maintain its elite political order.
It is Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) who performs the film’s face turn. He and Fred Thompson, minority counsel for the Republican senators, are labelled as moles on the committee.
What the committee said, Nixon’s men heard through Baker and Thompson. It was Baker who would famously ask Dean what Nixon knew and when he knew it. But when Baker realized that Nixon had been involved in the cover-up, Baker jumped into the fray head-first, questioning Ehrlichman in what one reporter called a “hostile” interrogation. Baker, the way the filmmakers portray it, had finally joined the good guys. Is this a reminder to honest Trump loyalists that redemption is a possible and worthwhile endeavor?
In an attempt at seeming not wholly partisan, committee member Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-Conn.) was presented as someone who had to throw the most rancorous fish overboard to save the boat.
“The best thing I could do for the Republican Party’s point of view was to try and protect the Republican Party as being distinct and separate from Richard Nixon,” Weicker remembered in the documentary.
In the Nixon tapes, the president does point his finger at the man he fully believed, with all of the information given to him, was behind Watergate. “This is a Dean plot. Period,” Nixon said. Critical Nixon biographer Richard Reeves also described Dean’s motivations vividly. “[Dean’s] loyalty was not to Richard Nixon,” Reeves said. “His loyalty was to John Dean.” Still yet, Dean comes across in the end as the affable, tough survivor rather than the co-conspirator or the instigator.
The obvious political nature of this historical documentary is supposed to tweak the erratic behaviors Never-Trumpers have embedded within them. That was an easy match to light for Ferguson. The deeper lesson of the documentary was aimed at Republicans, and it’s a lesson they were also supposed to learn from Woodward’s Fear: The ship is sinking. Abort. Even if you are a believer, you can’t save it. Get out with your integrity intact. But by all means, leak. Leak to the good mainstream journalists who are actively trying to unearth the evil that men do. Then you, too, could be a redeemed Baker, an honest partisan like Weicker, or even a Deep Throat. Maybe, however, ignoring the truth of Dean, Haig, et al., will doom us to repeating it.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]
AFP’s Online Store has a wide range of books covering the Nixon presidency and Watergate. They include The Real Watergate Scandal: Collusion, Conspiracy and the Plot That Brought Richard Nixon Down, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, andNixon’s Secrets: The Rise, Fall and Untold Truth About the President, Watergate and the Pardon. See www.AFPStore.AmericanFreePress.net.
Fake News Water Boy for the Deep State
Watergate “hero” Bob Woodward has always relied on dubious investigative tactics…
Publisher Simon & Schuster reported that Bob Woodward’s newest book, Fear: Trump in the White House, sold over 750,000 copies on its first day in print. Woodward skeptics and Watergate revisionists still question Woodward’s monarchical hold on modern journalism and publishing. In this issue, S.T. Patrick begins a series that will spotlight the questionable tactics and little-known fallacies of Bob Woodward’s journalistic career.
Series by S.T. Patrick
Implicit in the “Note to Readers” that opens Bob Woodward’s newest book, Fear: Trump in the White House, is an act of faith. Woodward wants the reader to trust him. “Interviews for this book were conducted under the journalistic ground rule of ‘deep background,’ ” Woodward writes.
Woodward, now an associate editor with The Washington Post, then defines “deep background.” He can use all information gathered from “hundreds of hours of interviews” with “firsthand participants and witnesses” whose names you’ll never know. In case the reader questions his accuracy in repeating these quotations and stories, Woodward then informs the public that “nearly all” of the interview participants have allowed him to record the conversations “so the story could be told with more precision.”
It is not clear how many interviews were actually conducted, nor is the specific percentage of recordings referred to as “nearly all.” This is important, because there is no evidence accompanying those unrecorded interviews. The interviewee would surely deny them, and the accuracy of such reports hinges on the reporter’s own trustworthiness. This is but one of the many problems with “deep background,” a journalistic information magnet strategy Woodward popularized during the Watergate era. Today, every interviewee for Fear is a Deep Throat.
Even when attributing exact quotations, Woodward admits that they may come from the person being quoted, but they may also stem from a colleague with direct knowledge or from someone’s meeting notes. But not all meeting notes are created equal, and because we do not know the source in many of these instances, we cannot question the motivations or backgrounds or prior relationships of the source attributing the quote, thought, or conclusion. Therefore, even the attributions are a cloudy haze of journalistic cloak-and-dagger games that Woodward mastered and legitimized to push his narratives to notable and profitable heights.
Fear is Woodward’s 19th book. His fame came from his Watergate reporting with co-author and fellow Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein. That’s the story we are supposed to believe: It was the stellar work of a muckraking journalist that made him famous. The little guys hustled to bring down the Big Bad Wolves of Pennsylvania Avenue—the Nixon White House. All the President’s Men was released in 1974 and all the American stereotypes applied two years before the nation’s bicentennial: that hard work eventually triumphs, that good wins over evil, that David really can slay Goliath, and that the new Mr. Smiths going to Washington to speak truth to power are the journalists who work tirelessly to assure that truth reigns.
The problem with that red, white, and blue myth is that it was the stuff of Hollywood—literally. Woodward and Bernstein did not commit to writing All the President’s Men until actor Robert Redford had expressed interest in purchasing the film rights. In Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President’s Men, Woodward also noted that Redford urged “Woodstein” to change the narrative from a tale of Nixonian dirty deeds to one that was based on the journey of two journalists, Woodward and Bernstein. Redford would play the role of Woodward and Dustin Hoffman would play Bernstein. The film was nominated for Best Picture in 1976 but lost to “Rocky.” For Woodward and Bernstein, however, their careers were made. Redford and Hoffman perfectly portrayed everything Americans wanted their journalists to be, down to being sloppy dressers, coffee inhalers, and chain smokers. Most importantly, they were heroes.
The film adaptation of Woodward and Bernstein’s first book coincided with the release of their second Nixon-era exposé, The Final Days. This book was different only in that its heroes were former and current military men, frustratingly skirting protocol and even law solely in an effort to save the republic from a president who had become unhinged. More than in All the President’s Men, Woodward’s pattern of assessing presidencies would begin in The Final Days.
The hero of The Final Days was Gen. Alexander Haig, retired from the Army and someone who had climbed the national security ranks to become chief of staff after the resignation of H.R. Haldeman. After Woodward and Bernstein, the hero of All the President’s Men had been Woodward’s “deep background” source, Deep Throat. Though Woodward revealed—or at least informed us—in 2005 that Deep Throat was FBI Associate Director Mark Felt, Watergate revisionists knew more about the real Bob Woodward than the mainstream media was portraying and had good reasons to question the trustworthiness of Felt as the lone, chief or majority source behind the revelations attributed to Deep Throat.
Woodward had his own secret origin, and it was one that would alter the way keen students of history and the Watergate era viewed his faux heroism, his journalistic methods, the role of Haig, and the character of Deep Throat.
Part I of this series was originally published in American Free Press Issue 39 & 40, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1, 2018.
Bob Woodward: The King Breaker?
As of mid-October 2018, Bob Woodward’s newest book, Fear: Trump in the White House, stands atop The New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover non-fiction. Woodward skeptics and Watergate revisionists still question Woodward’s monarchical hold on modern journalism and publishing. In this issue, corresponding editor S.T. Patrick continues with Part 2 in a series that will spotlight the questionable tactics and little-known fallacies of Bob Woodward’s journalistic career.
On March 6, 1989, would-be authors Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin sat with The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward in preparation for what would be their upcoming book Silent Coup: The Removal of a President (1991). Woodward and co-author Carl Bernstein had written what establishment historians and educators considered the two books of record on the end of Richard Nixon’s presidency: All the President’s Men (1974) and The Final Days (1976). Both would be made into films. On this day, however, Colodny and Gettlin had confirmed information that would turn the Watergate story—and Woodward’s role in it—on its head.
Woodward verified that he had worked at the Pentagon as a communications officer. This was already in contrast with the book and film notion of Woodward as a bottom-rung hoofer who was fighting his way up the journalistic ladder at the Post. The film created the legend that all Woodward had done was to write about the lack of cleanliness in local restaurants. When the editors debated the oncoming storm of Watergate reporting, it was in an effort to decide if Woodward was even qualified to write such a consequential story. In reality, he was, and the editors knew it.
Woodward denied to Gettlin that he had any other function at the Pentagon beyond having once been a communications watch officer. Gettlin then asked if Woodward had ever done “any briefings of people.”
“Never! . . . And I defy you to produce somebody who says I did a briefing. It’s just . . . It’s not true,” Woodward responded.
The conversation turned to Gen. Alexander Haig, who had become Nixon’s chief of staff upon the urged resignation of H.R. Haldeman. Tim Weiner, upon Haig’s death in 2010, wrote in The New York Times that Haig had been the “acting president” while Nixon was pre-occupied with Watergate. Haig biographer Roger Morris wrote that President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon was a de facto pardon of Haig, as well.
Haig had played an important role in the transition from Nixon to Ford and had even been one of the most instrumental voices privately encouraging Nixon’s resignation. If Haig had a previous working relationship with Woodward, and if Woodward’s stories were contradictory to the Nixon administration’s best interests, then the relationship and roles of both Woodward and Haig in relation to Nixon’s fall demanded examination.
“I never met or talked to Haig until some time in the spring of 1973,” Woodward responded. That Woodward had never done briefings, had never been a briefing officer, and had never met Haig until 1973 were ideas that sources “in a position to know,” as Gettlin called them in the interview, contradicted.
Lest someone assume that Colodny and Gettlin’s sources on Woodward were journalistic rivals or disenfranchised victims made unemployable by Watergate’s political aftermath, they were not. And unlike Woodward’s most notable sources, they were not kept hidden under “deep background.” Colodny and Gettlin’s confirmation came from Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, Melvin Laird, and Jerry Friedheim, all of whom can be read and heard on “Watergate.com.”
Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1970-1974), told Gettlin that he was aware that Haig was being briefed by Woodward. Moorer was in close contact, sometimes “on the telephone with Haig eight or nine times a day.”
Laird, Nixon’s secretary of defense, said, “I was aware that Haig was being briefed by Woodward. . . . He was there on a temporary assignment.” This was while Woodward was working in communications at the Pentagon.
Friedheim, a Pentagon spokesperson, elaborated on Woodward’s Pentagon associations in the pre-Watergate era. “He was definitely there, and he was moving in circles with—you know—as a junior officer, as a briefer, but obviously it’s somebody that they thought was sharp enough to do those things,” Friedheim said. “He was moving with those guys, Moorer, Haig, the NSC [National Security Council] staff, and other military types.”
Colodny and Gettlin were not the first, nor were they the last, to tie Haig to the role of Woodward’s most famous Watergate source, “Deep Throat.” In his 1984 book Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA, Jim Hougan wrote that Haig was the “ ‘prominent official’ within the Nixon administration who most closely fits Woodward’s description of his source.” There are Watergate historians who still believe that Deep Throat was a composite of sources, with Haig being chief among them, or someone other than the FBI’s second in command, Mark Felt.
The release of Secret Agenda was a new starting point for Watergate skeptics in 1984; Silent Coup reorganized them once again in 1991. Author Ray Locker will continue to question Woodward’s links to the Nixon White House in 2019’s Haig’s Coup.
Woodward, exasperated by the questioning of Colodny and Gettlin further in the 1989 interview, referenced the briefing revelation and the Haig tie as a “totally erroneous story . . . that I briefed somebody in the Pentagon . . . and that there’s this coup going on.” He had yet to learn that no less than Moorer, Laird, and Friedman had all openly established a Woodward link to Haig.
He would also repeatedly ask about the nature of the interviewer’s sources, about whom Colodny and Gettlin then vaguely referred. It seems that Woodward was perturbed to be the target of yet-unnamed sources who verified information and scenes in which he was involved. He had popularized the practice and allowed its subjects to deal with the consequences. But Hougan, Colodny, Gettlin, and Locker have since put that translucent lens back on Woodward.
Part II of this series was originally published in American Free Press Issue 41 & 42, Oct. 8 and 15, 2018.
Bob Woodward’s Tarnished Legacy – Part III
S.T. Patrick continues his series on Woodward and his monarchical hold on modern journalism by profiling The Washington Post associate editor’s work throughout the 1980s. This is the third installment in the series.
Though the Republican Party seemed all but dead after Watergate, the pardon of Richard Nixon, and the 1976 electoral loss of unelected President Gerald Ford to Gov. Jimmy Carter, the Eighties were a new decade, one that would attach the word “era” to the politician that dominated its most crucial moments, Ronald Reagan.
For journalist Bob Woodward, the fall of the GOP had made him a legend. The rise of the Reagan era, however, would prove that legends are highly fallible, even in the world of journalism, where kings are rarely dethroned.
In September 1980, reporter Janet Cooke wrote an incredibly moving and emotional piece for the Post entitled “Jimmy’s World.” Cooke detailed the heartbreaking story of an eight-year-old heroin addict. So captivating was the story that Woodward, then the Post’s assistant managing editor, nominated it for a Pulitzer Prize. In April 1981, it won. Cooke would later have to return the Pulitzer when it was revealed that the story had been a fabrication. Rather than making an apology, Woodward defended the merits of the story and removed himself from any responsibility for the nomination.
In 1984, taking a brief respite from political tomes, Woodward released Wired: The Short Life & Fast Times of John Belushi. Both Woodward and Belushi had been raised in Wheaton, Ill. Riding the wave of notoriety he had amassed after Robert Redford’s portrayal of him in “All the President’s Men,” Woodward convinced Belushi’s friend Dan Aykroyd, brother James Belushi, widow Judith Belushi Pisano, actress Blair Brown, and others to sit for interviews in preparation. For those who had known and worked alongside him, the memories of Belushi, who had died of a drug overdose in 1982, were fresh.
When Wired was released, Belushi’s friends, family, and co-stars felt betrayed. Because Belushi had disliked Nixon and had liked Woodward’s work, his widow had turned to the Post editor and bestselling author when she had questions about the LAPD’s handling of the death. What Woodward did was to take the story and create a very critical, drug-fueled, exaggerated narrative of Belushi’s stardom.
Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987 marked Woodward’s return to home base, the world of D.C. politics. Having roundly suffered what he believed was unfair criticism for Wired, Woodward may have thought his political wheelhouse would harbor a safe return to the accolades and fame of a decade before.
Veil includes one of the most hotly debated scenes ever written by Woodward. In it, former CIA director William Casey lies near-death in a hospital bed at Georgetown University Hospital.
Woodward makes his way into the room and asks Casey if he had known about the illegal diversion of profits from Iranian arms sales to the Nicaraguan Contras. Casey’s head “jerked up hard. He stared and finally nodded yes,” Woodward wrote.
“Why?” Woodward puzzlingly asked. Casey paused and whispered, “I believed.”
Kevin Shipp, a former member of Casey’s own security detail, wrote that none of the agents standing guard would have allowed Woodward into the room. He also noted that the former CIA director was not able to speak at the time of Woodward’s Q&A. Casey’s daughter, Bernadette Casey Smith, told the Houston Chronicle that Woodward “never got the deathbed confession.”
While the Casey story seems clearly like fantasy, The New Yorker’s John Cassidy, in describing both Veil and other Woodward work, discussed his faults in a more muted, yet specific way. “The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up,” Cassidy wrote. “It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who cooperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning.”
The Nineties would bring a return to Watergate and, for Woodward, a kinder, gentler Democratic administration. But in the new millennium, 9/11, multiple wars, and the George W. Bush administration would be just the combatant-like foes that Woodward would need to rebuild a legacy he had self-tarnished in the 1980s and failed to recover in the 1990s.
Part III was published in American Free Press Issue 43 & 44, October 22 and 29, 2018.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]
Watergate Mysteries Remain 45 Years Later
Some researchers believe John Dean and his wife hold the key to the real reasons for the 1972 Watergate break-in.
By S.T. Patrick
Forty-five years after the two Watergate break-ins of June 1972, researchers are still tangling over who ordered the break-ins and why. Since 1984, revisionists have researched and formulated a theory that has changed how skeptical students of Watergate view the scandal that forced the resignation of Richard Nixon.
At a Hofstra University speech in 1987, former Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman summarized the conventional wisdom among reflective Nixon-era conservatives. “To this day I still don’t know why that was done,” Haldeman said, “and I don’t know anybody who does. Why they would hit the (Democratic) National Headquarters is beyond me, because nobody in that place knows anything anyway.”
At the same symposium, Jeb Magruder, former deputy director of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CREEP), pushed the Hughes-Rebozo theory for the break-ins. Multimillionaire Howard Hughes, the theory states, gave $100,000 to Nixon’s close friend Bebe Rebozo. The money was then used by the Nixon family, in part for furniture and jewelry. The break-ins were executed to find out what information DNC chairman Lawrence O’Brien may have had about the Hughes-Rebozo transaction, as well as to gather damaging information that may persuade O’Brien to withhold the information throughout the 1972 campaign.
Since the 1980s, a team of revisionist historians and researchers have developed a theory that puts former White House Counsel John Dean in the crosshairs of the Watergate debacle. And though Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) famously asked Dean what Nixon knew about Watergate and when he knew it, researchers now believe that the key to understanding the break-ins themselves lies with Dean, his wife Maureen, and Magruder.
Author Phil Stanford wrote White House Call Girl: The Real Watergate Story to detail the life of Heidi Rikan, who ran a call-girl operation at the luxurious Columbia Plaza Apartments, blocks from the Watergate complex. Stanford’s work built on and expanded the research of Jim Hougan’s Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA and Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin’s Silent Coup: The Removal of a President.
Ms. Rikan had gathered a crop of women new to the Beltway to entertain Democrat politicians in town on business. Typical for Washington, D.C. prostitution rings of the era, the Columbia Plaza setup was an intelligence-gathering operation that would be used for potential blackmail and political advantage. Private eye Lou Russell served as security for Rikan at the apartments and has admitted tape-recording telephone conversations between Ms. Rikan’s girls and their clients at the DNC.
One of the Watergate burglars was found with a key belonging to the desk of secretary Ida “Maxie” Wells, the DNC contact who historians believe allegedly instigated the liaisons and whose desk may have contained the real names of the johns that had used Ms. Rikan’s service.
Stanford found witnesses who tied Maureen (Kane) Biner to Ms. Rikan. “Mo” Biner would later date and then marry Dean. Arguably the most interesting pieces of evidence in the case are Ms. Rikan’s little black books. Unearthed by Ms. Rikan’s sister, the little black books contain the names of politicians, dignitaries, and athletes. Interestingly, one book contains home addresses and phone numbers for Maureen Kane and her mother, Irene. A later version of Ms. Rikan’s black book contains both home and office numbers for the Deans, as well as John Dean’s number at the White House.
Speculation has existed as to the nature of Maureen’s involvement with Ms. Rikan’s operation. Stanford confirmed to this writer that Ms. Rikan and Maureen were friends who partied and traveled together. In White House Call Girl he alludes to testimony from various sources that Maureen had been a high-level prostitute, but he denies having documented evidence.
According to Ms. Rikan’s attorney, Phil Bailley, Magruder was seeing “Candy Cane,” one of Ms. Rikan’s prostitutes. As Bailley was walking toward Cane’s apartment one day, he saw a dark-haired man get into a chauffeured black sedan. When Bailley asked who the man was, Cane responded, “You weren’t supposed to see that. That’s the boss of bosses.”
Bailley later identified the man with Cane as Magruder, whose home phone number was also found in Rikan’s books.
Revisionist historians were not alone in doubting Magruder’s Hughes-Rebozo theory for the Watergate motive. Charles Colson, the former presidential counsel, told The New York Times that he was almost knocked off his chair when Magruder made the accusation at Hofstra.
Colson once embraced Magruder in a hallway as they served time together in federal prison. Colson wanted real answers to the “what” and “why” questions of the break-ins.
“What were we doing at the Watergate, Jeb?” Colson asked Magruder. “(Magruder) turned white as a sheet and wouldn’t tell me. Later, on the outside, I asked him again. Still he wouldn’t say.”
Magruder did eventually tell author Len Colodny that Dean ordered the break-ins. G. Gordon Liddy had also affirmed Dean’s involvement in testimony given when Ida Wells unsuccessfully sued him for statements he had made about her involvement.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals summarized Liddy’s testimony: “Liddy stated that the burglars’ objective during the Watergate break-in was to determine whether the Democrats possessed information embarrassing to John Dean.”
Magruder, like Colson, would turn to the ministry after leaving prison. He was a Presbyterian minister from 1981 through his death in 2014.
John and Maureen Dean have spent decades defending their side of the Watergate story. Most notably, they sued Colodny. The case was settled out of court and terms were not released. Both parties claim victory to this day. The Deans have denied a close relationship with Ms. Rikan, they have denied that Ms. Rikan ran a call-girl ring, and they deny that the motive for the Watergate break-ins had anything to do with their relationship.
Dean frequently writes about political scandal, predictably comparing each scandal to Watergate and each president to Nixon. Dean’s cooperation with prosecutors on Watergate aided the indictments of administration officials who had once trusted him. To revisionist historians who continue to challenge the accepted view of Watergate, both Dean and Magruder had links to Ms. Rikan’s operation that had to be extracted from the DNC offices.
The near-unanimous opinion of former Nixon appointees is that Dean is a self-serving traitor. To media outlets such as MSNBC that hire him for political commentary to this day, he is the hero who brought down Nixon.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as a respected educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” You may email him at [email protected]
This article was originally published in American Free Press Issue 1 & 2, January 1 & 8, 2018.
Was Prominent Journalist a Target?
In a new book, journalist Mark Feldstein claims Nixon and his men desperately wanted to get rid of renowned columnist Jack Anderson, who Nixon blamed in part for his loss to JFK in 1960. They considered an assortment of ways to silence Anderson’s criticisms of Nixon and his administration, from criminal prosecution to defamation of character to outright murder.
By S. T. Patrick
The common factors that drove columnist Jack Anderson and President Richard Nixon to the apex of their respective fields are the same that tore them apart and made them adversaries for more than 25 years. The escalating tension between two of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. climaxed in the year before Watergate, as Nixon’s men wanted Jack Anderson dead.
Anderson and Nixon were both from small, western towns. Their middle-class upbringings often made them uncomfortably conscious of the class warfare inherent within elite society. Anderson was a devout Mormon, while many of Nixon’s social leanings reflected his Quaker upbringing. Both men wrote, walked, talked, and lived like they perpetually had something to prove.
While money was not the driving factor behind the two men personally, they both placed a high value in the same Washingtonian commodity—information. They would gain it in ways that were morally and ethically repugnant to later observers and biographers. They would use it to stay one step ahead of their competition, as well as to belittle opponents who invariably attempted to agitate their most paranoid insecurities. The Beltway was a game, and they were both sore losers.
Nixon believed Anderson was partially responsible for his 1960 presidential loss to John F. Kennedy. Anderson, in his Washington Merry-Go-Round column, had printed a revelation that the Nixon campaign had secretly funneled a private donation from billionaire Howard Hughes. Anderson was in large part responsible for Nixon’s distrust of the establishment media. When the Nixon administration entered the White House in 1969, Anderson’s criticism intensified. He wrote about yet another contribution from Hughes, a favorable tilt toward Pakistan that almost caused a nuclear confrontation with Russia, a covert attempt to oust Chilean president Salvador Allende, and many other brewing scandals.
Mark Feldstein, the chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, has written Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, which is simultaneously a biography of Anderson and a well-written account of his conflict with Nixon.
Feldstein details how Nixon’s “Plumbers”—G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and company—were created to plug the leaks Anderson used to such success. At one point, Anderson’s column was syndicated in over a thousand newspapers, including The Washington Post. He was the subject of a Timemagazine cover story under the headline “Supersnoop,” he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and he was featured on “60 Minutes.”
“Jack Anderson was like Ahab chasing after Richard Nixon, this great white whale, and he plagued Nixon from the very beginning of his career,” wrote Feldstein.
Nixon explored many options of what could be done with Anderson. On Jan. 3, 1972, he discussed with Attorney General John Mitchell the possibility of criminally prosecuting Anderson for publishing classified documents.
“I would just like to get a hold of this Anderson and hang him,” said Mitchell.
Nixon replied, “So listen, the day after the election, win or lose, we’ve got to do something with [Anderson].”
Liddy and Hunt met with other Nixon aides to discuss what could be done to thwart the muckraking journalist. A spy was placed in Anderson’s office where Colson attempted to plant a false White House document. They considered labeling Anderson as gay, which he was not, and charging that his legman Brit Hume was his gay lover. The administration then tried leaking information on Anderson to The Washington Post, which instead printed a story about how Nixon was trying to smear Anderson.
Exasperated, the Plumbers turned to the one method of silencing Anderson that would work permanently—murder. Hunt and Liddy, under orders from Colson, met and plotted potential ways to kill Anderson. They interviewed a CIA poison expert to determine whether they could poison him without detection. They put Anderson under surveillance to see if there was a location on his regular route to potentially stage a fatal auto accident. They staked out his home to case the vulnerable points of entry that could be penetrated to swap prescription medications for poison. The most bizarre consideration was the idea of lacing Anderson’s steering wheel with LSD, thus causing an accident.
Finally, they decided that the best means would be to stage a mugging that would end in Anderson’s death. Liddy later claimed that he had volunteered for the latter and was satisfied with breaking Anderson’s neck. Before his death, Hunt also corroborated the scheme to kill Anderson.
Colson called off the plan to kill Anderson, as the funds had been earmarked elsewhere. Six weeks later, the burglars were arrested at the Watergate complex.
When the second Watergate break-in occurred in June 1974, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman tried planting a story that blamed Anderson. Dating back to the 1950s, Anderson had been involved in buggings and break-ins in an effort to acquire damaging information on politicians. Making Haldeman’s plan even more potentially credible, Anderson was also friendly with Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, who had been his house guest in Washington, D.C. In a strange turn of coincidence, Anderson ran into Sturgis at the airport on the night of the Watergate break-in. Sturgis and the burglars were flying in from Miami. When Anderson first heard about Watergate, he instantly knew who was involved.
Anderson’s later career was plagued with factual errors, dwindling readership, and an affinity for the Reagan administration that took the bulldog out of the aging reporter. Nixon would resign from office and live out his life writing about global issues. Nixon would die in 1994, and Anderson would succumb to the effects of Parkinson’s disease in 2005. He had retired his column a year before at the age of 81.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]
Trump Should Appoint Special Prosecutor for Leaks
When President Donald Trump returns to Washington from his Mideast trip, he should immediately appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Obama holdovers who have been leaking secret information to the press for the purpose of embarrassing and hamstringing his administration.
By Patrick J. Buchanan
Who is the real threat to the national security? Is it President Trump, who shared with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the intelligence that ISIS was developing laptop bombs to put aboard airliners? Or is it The Washington Post that ferreted out and published this code-word intelligence, and splashed the details on its front page, alerting the world, and ISIS, to what we knew.
Trump has the authority to declassify security secrets. And in sharing that intel with the Russians, who have had airliners taken down by bombs, he was trying to restore a relationship.
On fighting Islamist terror, we and the Russians agree.
Five years ago, Russia alerted us that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become a violent radical Islamist. That was a year and a half before Tsarnaev carried out the Boston Marathon bombing.
But upon what authority did The Washington Post reveal code-word intelligence secrets? Where in the Constitution or U.S. law did the Post get the right to reveal state secrets every U.S. citizen is duty bound to protect?
The source of this top secret laptop-bomb leak that the Post published had to be someone in the intel community who was violating an oath that he had sworn to protect U.S. secrets, and committing a felony by leaking that secret.
Those who leaked this to hurt Trump, and those who published this in the belief it would hurt Trump, sees themselves as the “Resistance”—like the French Resistance to Vichy in World War II.
And they seemingly see themselves as above the laws that bind the rest of us.
“Can Donald Trump Be Trusted With State Secrets?” asked the headline on the editorial in The New York Times.
One wonders: Are these people oblivious to their own past?
In 1971, The New York Times published a hoard of secret documents from the Kennedy-Johnson years on Vietnam. Editors spent months arranging them to convince the public it had been lied into a war that the Times itself had supported, but had turned against.
Purpose of publication: Damage and discredit the war effort, now that Richard Nixon was commander in chief. This was tantamount to treason in wartime.
When Nixon went to the Supreme Court to halt publication of “the Pentagon Papers” until we could review them to ensure that sources and methods were not being compromised, the White House was castigated for failing to understand the First Amendment.
And for colluding with the thieves that stole them, and for publishing the secret documents, the Times won a Pulitzer.
Forty years ago, the Post also won a Pulitzer—for Watergate.
The indispensable source of its stories was FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, who repeatedly violated his oath and broke the law by leaking the contents of confidential FBI interviews and grand jury testimony.
Felt, “Deep Throat,” was a serial felon. He could have spent 10 years in a federal penitentiary had his identity been revealed. But to protect him from being prosecuted and sent to prison, and to protect themselves from the public knowing their scoops were handed to them by a corrupt FBI agent, the Post kept Felt’s identity secret for 30 years. Yet, their motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
The adversary press asserts in its actions a right to collude with and shelter disloyal and dishonorable officials who violate our laws by leaking secrets that they are sworn to protect.
Why do these officials become criminals, and why do the mainstream media protect them?
Because this seedy bargain is the best way to advance their common interests.
The media get the stolen goods to damage Trump. Anti-Trump officials get their egos massaged, their agendas advanced, and their identities protected.
This is the corrupt bargain the Beltway press has on offer.
For the media, bringing down Trump is also good for business. TV ratings of anti-Trump media are soaring. The “failing New York Times” has seen a surge in circulation. The Pulitzers are beckoning.
And bringing down a president is exhilarating. As Ben Bradlee reportedly said during the Iran-Contra scandal that was wounding President Reagan, “We haven’t had this much fun since Watergate.”
When Nixon was brought down, North Vietnam launched a spring offensive that overran the South, and led to concentration camps and mass executions of our allies, South Vietnamese boat people perishing by the thousands in the South China Sea, and a holocaust in Cambodia.
When Trump gets home from his trip, he should direct Justice to establish an office inside the FBI to investigate all illegal leaks since his election and all security leaks that are de facto felonies, and name a special prosecutor to head up the investigation.
Then he should order that prosecutor to determine if any Trump associates, picked up by normal security surveillance, were unmasked, and had their names and conversations spread through the intel community, on the orders of Susan Rice and Barack Obama, to seed the bureaucracy to sabotage the Trump presidency before it began.
Cries of “worse than Watergate” went out from the mainstream media immediately after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week. But is it worse? For that matter, is it even comparable?
By Patrick J. Buchanan
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, said Marx. On publication day of my memoir of Richard Nixon’s White House, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Instantly, the media cried “Nixonian,” comparing it to the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre. Yet, the differences are stark.
The resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus and the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox came in the middle of an East-West crisis.
On Oct. 6, 1973, the high holy day of Yom Kippur, in a surprise attack, Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal and breached Israel’s Bar Lev Line. Syria attacked on the Golan Heights.
Within days, 1,000 Israeli soldiers were dead, hundreds of tanks destroyed, dozens of planes downed by Soviet surface-to-air missiles. As Egypt’s army broke through in the Sinai, there came reports that Moshe Dayan was arming Israeli F-4s with nuclear weapons.
“This is the end of the Third Temple,” Dayan was quoted.
Nixon ordered every U.S. transport that could fly to deliver tanks and planes to Israel. Gen. Ariel Sharon crossed the Canal to the west and rolled north to cut off and kill the Egyptian 3rd army in Sinai.
The Gulf Arabs declared an oil embargo of the United States.
We got reports that nuclear-capable Russian ships were moving through the Dardanelles and Soviet airborne divisions were moving to airfields. U.S. nuclear forces were put on heightened alert.
On Oct. 10, another blow had befallen Nixon’s White House. Vice President Agnew pleaded nolo contendere to tax evasion and resigned.
Nixon immediately named Gerald Ford to replace him.
It was in this environment, with Henry Kissinger in Moscow trying to negotiate a ceasefire in the Mideast, that Cox refused to accept a compromise deal that would give him verified summaries of Nixon’s tapes, but not actual tapes. Democrat Senators Sam Ervin and John Stennis had accepted this compromise, as had Richardson, or so we believed.
Nixon had no choice. As he told me, he could not, in this Cold War crisis, have Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev see him back down in the face of defiance by one of his own Cabinet appointees.
If he had to, Nixon told me, he would reach down to a GS-7 at Justice to fire Cox: “We can’t have that viper sleeping in the bed with us.”
That Saturday night, I told friends, next week will bring resolutions of impeachment in the House. And so it did.
How do Nixon and Trump’s actions differ?
Where Nixon decapitated his Justice Department and shut down the special prosecutor’s office, Trump simply fired an FBI director who agreed that Trump had every right to do so.
By October 1973, with two dozen Nixon White House, Cabinet and campaign officers convicted or facing indictment and trial, we were steeped in the worst political scandal in U.S. history.
Nothing comparable exists today.
But if President Trump is enraged, he has every right to be.
Since July, the FBI has been investigating alleged Trump campaign collusion with Putin’s Russia to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts—and produced zilch. As of January, ex-CIA Director Mike Morell and ex-DNI James Clapper said no collusion had been found.
Yet every day we hear Democrats and the media bray about a Putin-Trump connection and Russian “control” of the president.
In the early 1950s, they had a term for this. It was called McCarthyism, and its greatest practitioners invariably turned out to be those who had invented the term.
“Justice delayed is justice denied!” applies to presidents, too.
Trump has been under a cloud of a “Russian connection” to him and his campaign for nearly a year. Yet no hard evidence of Trump-Russia collusion in the election has been produced.
Is not the endless airing of unproven allegations inherently un-American?
In 1973, NBC’s John Chancellor suggested the ouster of Richardson, Ruckelshaus, and Cox was the “most serious constitutional crisis” in U.S. history, passing over the secession of 11 Southern states and a Civil War that cost 620,000 lives. One London reporter said that “the whiff of the Gestapo was in the clear October air.”