Modern Times From 1974

This is a journalist’s list. My reading (and knowledge) is greatly influenced by the events of the day, the time, the era. My reading and my work are often one and the same. That is one of the best things about being a writer, but it may not be ideal for list making. This list is, I emphasize, not of the best books of the past 30 years, though many of these volumes might be considered for such a list. Some of these works were selected because of their immediate impact.Read more »

1974: Twenty-five Years Ago

Dick’s Last Trick

Watergate dominated the news in April, as it had for more than a year. Each day seemed to bring new evidence of malfeasance by President Richard Nixon and his staff, and in a nation unaccustomed to having a criminal in the White House, the revelations were taken quite seriously. As the House Judiciary Committee took up the question of impeachment, Nixon knew his time to wriggle out of the mess was running short. In the football metaphors that he loved so much, the President was trailing by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. So, like any coach in such a predicament, he called for an onside kick.

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The Words Of Watergate

AN ANNIVERSARY LOOK BACK AT THE BIGGEST PRESIDENTIAL SCANDAL EVER, THROUGH THE CHANGES IT WROUGHT IN THE LANGUAGE

“I will repeat again today that no one presently employed at the White House had any involvement, awareness or association with the Watergate case.” Just twenty-five years ago this month, with national elections less than three weeks away, President Richard M. Nixon’s press secretary, Ronald L. Ziegler, sought with this declaration to clamp the lid on a burgeoning scandal. Read more »

Hoovergate

On the twentieth anniversary of Watergate, a recently discovered diary reveals a similar conspiracy four decades earlier

Lawrence O’Brien, the head of the Democratic National Committee at the time of the Watergate break-in, was not the first O’Brien burglarized on behalf of the GOP. Forty-two years earlier James J. O’Brien, a suspected Tammany Hall ally and two-bit blackmailer, was the target of another Republican administration. In 1930, however, the burglars were drawn not from the CIA and disgruntled Cuban émigrés but from American Naval Intelligence.Read more »

The Presidential Follies

An old, familiar show is back in Washington. There’s a new cast, of course, but the script is pretty much the same as ever. Here’s the program.

WHEN THE IRAN-CONTRA STORY BROKE LAST NOVEMBER, A NUMBER OF public figures as well as news commentators put the revelations in a historical context. Walter Mondale said in a New York Times interview: “It was all so knowable. Did they really think they could get away with it—violate the law and nobody would care?...They were so full of hubris....” Read more »

I. The Hour Of The Founders

In which a President fails to fulfill his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” And a reluctant Congress acts.

EXACTLY TEN YEARS AGO this August, the thirty-seventh President of the United States, facing imminent impeachment, resigned his high office and passed out of our lives. “The system worked,” the nation exclaimed, heaving a sigh of relief. What had brought that relief was the happy extinction of the prolonged fear that the “system” might not work at all. But what was it that had inspired such fears? When I asked myself that question recently, I found I could scarcely remember.Read more »

II. The Final Act

A sometime “Nixon-hater” looks back on Watergate and discovers that his glee of a decade ago has given way to larger, sadder, and more generous emotions

AT THE TIME OF Richard Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency, columnists, politicians, and other sages spoke woefully of the tragedy of Watergate, or the trauma of Watergate, depending on whether their sense of language was Shakespearean or psychiatric.Read more »

“the First Rough Draft Of History”

… is today’s newspaper. Here the executive editor of the Washington ‘Post’ takes us on a spirited dash through the minefields that await reporters and editors who gather and disseminate a most valuable commodity.

As executive editor of the Washington Post , Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee guides and shapes one of the two or three best newspapers in America. He has been called “a born leader, a quick study … and intuitive. His paper reflects his own interest and hunches.Read more »