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Slow Day

May 2024
1min read


In the summer of 1972 I turned sixteen and was thoroughly enjoying the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon. My father, Howard Norton, was a White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report . Travel for the White House press corps was provided through a fund supported by their respective news organizations, and if the chartered plane was large enough and the trip was within the continental United States, families could go along at minimal cost. This particular trip to Key Biscayne was to last a full week, but it was cut short on Monday. So I found myself on the press bus headed to Homestead Air Force Base, where Air Force One and the charter plane awaited.

I was watching as we hurried by the pink and green stucco houses of south Florida when I overheard a conversation between two veteran newsmen seated behind me. One was well into the Sunday edition of the Washington Post when he remarked to his seatmate: “Look at this. Somebody broke into the office of the Democratic National Headquarters in Watergate.”

“Yeah,” the other replied. “And under the orders of Nixon, I bet.”

That exchange was followed by scattered chuckles.

Thus did the White House press miss the greatest political scandal of the twentieth century.

—Debbie Norton works at James Sprunt Community College and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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