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Our Nixon

Aired August 7, 2013 - 22:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where to begin? We've had a long time to chat with Bob Haldeman and now we have the opportunity, and the question is where to start? Here you were -- you worked four years in Washington as Nixon's number two man, Nixon's SOB as you called yourself. Dick Nixon never went to keep his game without you. He never went anywhere without you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you're accusing yourself of is a cloudy crystal ball. That's hardly the mea culpa that the American public thinks it's entitled to. That's the issue.

HALDEMAN: Well, maybe the American public is wrong. I know in my own heart and I know in my own head precisely what I did, I know precisely why I did it.


HALDEMAN: And I know that I made some mistakes. I deeply regret those mistakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As Richard Nixon's right-hand man he was the one most often recorded on the tapes, and they destroyed him.

HALDEMAN: I had the rare privilege for four years of serving on the White House staff under one of America's greatest presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Former White House chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman found guilty today on five counts in the Watergate cover-up trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret what's happened and what you did?

JOHN EHRLICHMAN, DOMESTIC AFFAIRS ADVISOR TO RICHARD NIXON: Oh, sure. The country lost motion. A lot of the good things that we were working on in the way of domestic reforms were lost in the mess. You can't help but regret an aftermath of that kind. A lot of good people had their lives spoiled in the process.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: John Ehrlichman has finished his statements. He was then returned to the holding room, rather a strange phrase. The holding room gives you an idea that they are holding a chemical or a bacteria or something.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Former White House domestic affairs advisor John Ehrlichman, four counts, guilty.

DWIGHT CHAPIN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO RICHARD NIXON: The references to like an era of criminality or like people there were trying to, you know, rape the country of its democracy, I mean, I just don't see it that way.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chapin was linked in several reporters to the Watergate case, alleged sabotage of the Democratic presidential campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chapin today was found guilty of lying to the Watergate grand jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that you can take that little piece of history, which may have been the darkest days of Nixon's career, and construct from that a mosaic that tells you all about that man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, Richard Milhous Nixon, do solemnly swear.

RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Richard Milhous Nixon, do solemnly swear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That you will faithfully execute the office.

NIXON: That I will faithfully execute the office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of president of the United States.

NIXON: Of president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And will to the best of your ability.

NIXON: And will to the best of my ability.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preserve, protect and defend.

NIXON: Preserve, protect and defend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Constitution of the United States.

NIXON: The Constitution of the United States.


NIXON: So help me God.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The new president was in his office here at the White House at 7:30 this morning before anyone else on his staff and after only about four hours sleep. He's felt for some time that he can do this job pretty well and he was eager to get at it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: President-elect Nixon today named another long-term aide, H.R. Haldeman, to be a White House assistant.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Haldeman, a Los Angeles advertising executive, served as chief of staff for the Nixon campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Haldeman is the closest thing to an alter ego the president has, noted for his conservative views, his crew cut and his non-stop home video taking.

HALDEMAN: It was just an extremely exciting time for all of us. It was terribly hard work and very, very long difficult hours, but it was exciting because you were building something. There was no great, ideological trust or noble ambition involved in this and no thought at all of becoming permanently involved in either politics or government.

It was -- it was the thing what I felt it would be an interesting side experience where I could make a contribution and that something that would be a learning experience and an interesting experience for me. So that's why I did it.

The White House staff, as it evolves, I think you will find will be smaller than it's been in the past. I know you'll find it will be -- probably be the youngest one in history, certainly one of the youngest.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Also named as a special assistant was at man, 27-year-old Dwight Chapin who served as Mr. Nixon's personal aide.

CHAPIN: You got to keep in mind I was 27 years old at that point, and we had just gone through this campaign, and I was just waiting to see what unfolded.

The day that I went in and interviewed for the job, and I met this young 34-year-old crew cut guy by the name of Bob Haldeman, and Bob Haldeman changed my life.

I've never laughed as much as when I worked in the Nixon White House. The sense of humor was the leveling factor. Things -- messes we would find ourselves in or whatever it might be.

I think a lot of the younger staff people here find that he can far excel than in terms of energy and stamina.

I took a camera on all my trips, a Super 8, and I have quite a collection of film.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: John Ehrlichman, a 43-year-old Seattle lawyer who directed Nixon's campaign tour will have a broad advisory role in the Nixon administration.

EHRLICHMAN: I think this first year we'll be seeing as basically the time of reform. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ehrlichman is the president's chief aide for domestic affairs, understudy of Haldeman who he has known since college.

EHRLICHMAN: I was not a passionate Nixon person going in. Probably if some college friend invited me to go advance for John Kennedy, I might have gone.

There were very few illusions about Richard Nixon, I think, when the senior staff, particularly as we got into things, a good deal of kind of dry humor about his mannerisms and prejudices but nevertheless, you work for the president of the United States. He's the only president around. You all elected him. We all worked for him and it's up to us to make it work.

It was a very unnatural kind of life and you had the feeling you were in the middle of a great big, brilliantly lighted, badly run television show. I was taken a whole movie of this throughout.

I advanced the first trip to Europe, eight countries and I found myself hob knobbing with the king of Belgium and the Pope and all these folks and it got to be very heavy very fast.


BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Critics call them the Germans and describe their office as the Berlin Wall. I'm speaking of President Nixon's chief White House advisers, Henry Kissinger, John Ehrlichman and H.R. for Harry Robbins Haldeman.

Everyone these days knows who Henry Kissinger is. John Ehrlichman is the president's assistant for domestic affairs, but H.R. Haldeman's job is not an easy tidy one to describe. And of the three men he has been, by his own choice, the least visible to the public. He's the only one of these three never to have given a television interview until now.

His friends talk of his brilliance, his efficiency, his total dedication to the president, and his lack of personal egotism or jealousy. His critics called him cold, arrogant, hostile to the press, inaccessible.

This interview was filmed a week ago in Mr. Haldeman's office at the White House.

You have no calendar of your own. You really follow the president's day.

HALDEMAN: Yes, ma'am.

WALTERS: You're available, as I understand it, from 7:00 in the morning on and on and on. What does this do to you personally?

HALDEMAN: Well, it poses some problems sometimes. But I have fortunately a very understanding wife and four very interested and understanding children. WALTERS: Do your sons want you to grow your hair longer?


HALDEMAN: I was afraid you'd probably ask that. My -- you've probably seen the picture of my sons that we sent out for Christmas, but -- because my older son has what I would call very long hair and my younger son has pretty long hair.

WALTERS: They don't look like daddy.

HALDEMAN: They don't. They don't. But I face the fact that they're the ones that are in style and I'm the one that's out of step on hairstyling and I'm afraid they are right and I'm wrong on that one.

WALTERS: You have said -- I'm using one of your quotations again. "I often find it fascinating to ponder by what standards history will judge Nixon when all the partisan battles are over."

Well, how do you think he will be judged?

HALDEMAN: If he has the opportunity to move ahead with what he's trying to do, I think there isn't any doubt he'll be judged as one of the great presidents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. Man is about to launch himself on a trip to the moon. With the expectation of landing there. Man going to the moon here this morning from this Florida complex for that Saturn rocket. The rocket will go -- put the men into orbit 115 miles above the earth for 1.5 orbits and then the third stage will put them on their way --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Go ahead, Mr. President. This is Houston out.

NIXON: Hello, Neil and Buzz, I'm talking to you by telephone from the oval room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House.

And as you talk to us from the sea of tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to earth.

For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this earth are truly one, one in their pride in what you have done.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Armstrong is on the moon, Neal Armstrong, 38-year-old American, standing on the surface of the moon on this July 20th, 1969.

NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

CHAPIN: A typical day for me, Haldeman would pick me up around 7:15. The car would get Bob, then it would get Larry Higby, Bob's aide, and then it would swing by my house and then into the White House.

I am responsible for the scheduling and also for the president's daily activities. Our thing was a machine, and I knew my place. It really reflected a lot about Richard Nixon, the degree to which he wanted things controlled.

EHRLICHMAN: It literally was from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night every day of the week and Saturdays and Sundays, too. And that pace was unremitting, totally consuming for somebody like me.

HALDEMAN: I was very tough on people feeling that I had to be. There is something about the presidency that I've been ridiculed from my picking up the Navy term of zero defects but you do have to operate as close to zero defect as you can. And I was not overly concerned with whether people like me as a result of it or not, I was only concerned with the result the president wanted that carried out.


NIXON: How does it work in here?

ALEXANDER BUTTERFIELD, FORMER AIDE, NIXON ADMINISTRATION: And it's automatically working and it's working now.

NIXON: Just the system says "off."

BUTTERFIELD: It doesn't have an on-and-off switch. It depends on voice activation. So you don't have to turn it on and off.

NIXON: What happens is a record is made -- a tape?

BUTTERFIELD: A tape is made, yes, sir. There are only five people that know about it, outside of Haldeman, Higby, you and me. They can only change the spooks. They cannot monitor it.

NIXON: Yes. Mum's the whole word. I will not be (INAUDIBLE). This is totally for -- for -- for basically to put in the file, in my file. I don't want it in your office, Bob's or anybody else's. This is my file. The whole purpose, basically, is --


There may be a day where we have to have this. So I think it will work fine. It's a good system.

HALDEMAN: Just don't tell anybody you've got it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn't you burn the tapes? Surely you talked about it.

HALDEMAN: Well, I -- the question came up at one point, should the tapes be destroyed. And my strong recommendation was that they should not be destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a mistake, wasn't it, Mr. Haldeman? HALDEMAN: Yes, sir, I would say that given what we now know and what's now happened, that it was a disastrous thing to have done, but there was never a thought that one word of those tapes would be played in public or be played to other people, and when it got to the point of having to release them or having even to consider the possibility of releasing them, they should have been, in my opinion now, should have been destroyed.

CHAPIN: I had no idea about the taping system. No. No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you ever talk to Haldeman about that after all this happened?

CHAPIN: No. Never.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: John, you didn't know about the tape -- the taping system in the oval office, did you?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did it come as a surprise?

EHRLICHMAN: It did. Our White House staff was essentially a dysfunctional organization. I think Nixon believed that he didn't have to share every piece of information with everybody. Listening to the tapes is very revealing because he's talking to others about me, and what I should know and what he didn't want me to know. And he did the same thing with Kissinger and the same thing with a lot of people.

Several times I recall his saying to me, don't tell Henry. He kept little watertight compartments of information, and it didn't work very well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Dan Rather, who has closely observed the Nixon presidency, reports now on the first year in office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 12 months Richard Nixon proved himself to have been underestimated. He emerged as a shrewd political manager with a chance to be remembered as a consummate politician in the mold of Woodrow Wilson or Franklin Roosevelt.

Nixon was supremely disciplined, introspective longer. His mind methodical, cautious, given to worry, yes, but never, never let the worries show. Control, the byword for every public appearance, calculated non-flamboyance. Make-up to cover the beard, special hair tonic to cover gray at the temples, and a ready smile to cover worry.

One year does not make or break any president. A first year does set directions. What the past year has proven is that the principal directions of a Nixon presidency are cutting from -- government at home and laying political foundations that will have Republicans repressing Democrats as the majority party in the decade ahead.


HALDEMAN: President Nixon's primary focus, his own personal attention was almost totally dedicated to ending the war in Vietnam. Nixon tried to move into his committed areas of welfare reform, some areas of economic reform and all that.

But the one factor which really totally overrode all of those factors was Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had been in the office in -- in the president's office several different occasions where he -- where he had a handkerchief out and was wiping curious (ph) out (ph) of (ph) sight (ph). He's been writing notes to parents of the kids that had been killed.

So I came from -- that the president was doing the very best he could. And he was trying to end it, and that he -- so I -- I didn't have much compassion for the people in the streets.

I respect their right to demonstrate because that's, you know, that's what the country is about. But I mean, I was of the opinion that the demonstrators prolonged the war.

They didn't help us get out. They made it worse. And that's just how I view it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ehrlichman, sir.

NIXON: Hello?

ERLICHMAN: Yes, sir.

NIXON: John, are you home or at the office?

ERLICHMAN: I'm still at the office.

NIXON: Oh, that's too bad, too bad. With regard to this matter Bob just raised with me just before I came over to the house with regard to the -- what we do on the things tomorrow -- just a second -- yes, but let's face it, it isn't as bad as Berkeley had or San Francisco has had yet.

I think that you can expect that these people will be in very massive numbers and that probably, the police department will be swamped. They will not be able to handle the numbers.

NIXON: What do you mean massive numbers? A thousand?

ERLICHMAN: Oh, I think in any one of these 20 intersections, you'll have anywhere from 700 to a thousand, 1,500, something of that kind.

NIXON: Who's organizing it? This is the...

ERLICHMAN: It's highly structured operation. It's -- it's quite beautifully organized act by Rennie Davis and a whole -- whole group of more or less professional organizers that have been at this for a long time.

I think the general conclusion that we've all come to is that we should not call out troops.

NIXON: No, God, no.

ERLICHMAN: And that we would...

NIXON: Don't let them say (ph) martial law about the way, or this or that -- hell no.

ERLICHMAN: We just leave this to Jerry Wilson and the police department to conduct their affairs in the normal way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want? What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening. Marching behind flags and banners and picket signs demanding peace now, at least 200,000 anti- war protesters jammed the streets of Washington today in what was probably the biggest peace demonstration to be held since they began six years ago.

Despite the huge crowd, no Nixon administration official spoke at the rally or appeared on the Capitol Hill platform.

KERRY: What is important is not just that we are here today because we've been here before, you and I. We've been here before, and we've been other places.

And what we have to decide is that we're going to keep coming back until this war ends.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Ehrlichman, sir.

ERLICHMAN: Hello? Yes, yes, sir.

NIXON: I bet Bob a dollar the television wouldn't show the raunchy ones.

ERLICHMAN: Well, they showed some of them but they softened it a good deal. They didn't...


ERLICHMAN: ...describe the profanity and (ph) any of that sort of thing.

NIXON: So they came off rather well on television?

ERLICHMAN: I think they came off better than they should have been considering what they have pulled. NIXON: Well, there you are, yes.


NIXON: Good evening, my fellow Americans. A few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators carrying signs reading, loads (ph) in Vietnam -- bring the boys home.

Well, one of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the nation by amounting demonstrations in the street.

So tonight, to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans, I ask for your support. I pledged in my campaign for the presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace.

I have pledged to you tonight that I shall meet this responsibility with all of the strength and wisdom I can command in accordance with your hopes, mindful of your concerns, sustained by your prayers. Thank you and good night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Haldeman, sir.

NIXON: Hello.

HALDEMAN: Yes, sir. That was great.

NIXON: I must say that I put an awful lot of emotion into it.

ERLICHMAN: And -- and it...

NIXON: I don't know whether it got through.

HALDEMAN: It sure did. Great.

NIXON: The last part, of course, was a -- was a quite a work of art to be frank with you.

ERLICHMAN: It sure was.

NIXON: Take all of and to put it -- compress it into that and to say it without being maudlin and yet, to have emotion in it. You know, it was done with -- with style.

HALDEMAN: It sure was. Now, the calls you've talked to Henry. Did you talk to the Vice President?

NIXON: Yes, I talked to him and of course...

HALDEMAN: Billy Graham.

NIXON: And Graham. I talked to those three because I felt I should. Rockefeller called. Well, the hell with him... HALDEMAN: Yes.

NIXON: ...but nevertheless. But it was a goddamn good speech.

HALDEMAN: It -- it was...

NIXON: It touched people.

HALDEMAN: That thing is coming through, all the way through.

NIXON: Want to give me a little rundown?

HALDEMAN: Sure. O'Neil at the "New York Daily News" said the most effective job you've done yet. "National Review" was impressed with the statement, "Courageous and absolutely necessary, adequately answered the critics but retained the flexibility you'll need in the months ahead."

"Sacramento Union" said, "The best and most effective presentation he's made. It will really get through to the American people. It was honest and sincere."

And George McGovern didn't like it. He said it hadn't changed anything.

NIXON: That's great. Wouldn't want him to say anything. Well, what the hell? Does it make any difference? As I say, tomorrow, we'll just live through the day and we've heard from only three Cabinet officers, which I expected. And...

HALDEMAN: We had more than that.

NIXON: No, that's all -- Rogers, Mitchell...

HALDEMAN: Mitchell, Rogers, Hodgson.

NIXON: We haven't heard from Connally, though, that's curious.

HALDEMAN: Not to my knowledge, no.

NIXON: Why don't you call him and ask him what he thought of it?

HALDEMAN: Sure. OK, you want me to call you back then?

NIXON: If you would, yes.

HALDEMAN: All right.

GILL: It was Irish night at the White House, a solute to the visiting prime minister of the Emerald Isle (ph) with dancers from Castle Shannon. Yet, the crowd could hardly wait for the truly big event of the evening.

The president and Mrs. Nixon ended the suspense in a light- hearted mood. NIXON: I understand that I'm supposed to make a surprise announcement. The difficulty is that everytime I am supposed to make a surprise announcement, I find that someway, it's leaked before I get to make it, that even though the information may have leaked out, until I say it, it's not official.

And so tonight, Mrs. Nixon and I are very honored to announce the engagement of our daughter, Tricia, to Mr. Edward Cox of New (ph) York (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now to commemorate this event, we have as our special guest tonight, the Ray Conniff singers. It's very difficult to describe them. Most of you have heard them.

And if their music is square, it's because I like it square.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Nixon, stop bombing human beings, animals and vegetation. You go to church on Sundays and pray to Jesus Christ.

If Jesus Christ were here tonight, you would not dare drop another bomb. Bless the Barrigans (ph) and bless Daniel Ellsberg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The New York Times" began publishing a partial text of a secretly prepared study in the Pentagon relating to the origins of American involvement in Vietnam. Five days later, the "Washington Post" began publishing excerpts from the same Pentagon report.

On June 22, "The Boston Globe" joined "The Times" and the "Post" and published additional material from the study. The documents printed in the papers were classified, which means according to the government, they were not to be made public.

ERLICHMAN: Mr. President, the Attorney General's called a couple of times about these "New York Times" stories. And he's advised that unless he puts the "Times" on notices, he's probably going to weigh of any right of prosecution.

NIXON: You mean to prosecute the "Times?"


NIXON: Hell, I would prosecute the "Times." My view is to prosecute the goddamn pricks that gave it to them, if you can find out who that is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A single name has been mentioned most prominently as the possible source of the "Times" documents -- Daniel Ellsberg, a former state department at Pentagon planet (ph) and of late, something of a phantom figure. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we cannot at all let the officials of the executive branch determine for us what it is that the public needs to know about how well and how they are discharging their functions.

KISSINGER: He's a genius. He's the brightest student I've ever had. He volunteered for service in Vietnam. He was so nuts he'd drive around all over Vietnam with a carbine when it was guerrilla- infested.

And he'd shoot at peasants in the field on the theory that everyone in black -- but he's always been a little unbalanced. Late '67, he suddenly turned into a peacenik.

At MIT, he heckled me and accused me of being a murderer and being associated with a murderer.

NIXON: All right. All right. All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Pentagon report was only the beginning in itself in complete history. There will be much more. And temptation will be great for a witch hunt, the unmasking of villains and the manufacture of scapegoats.

CHAPIN: The president was furious. Kissinger was furious. It was very intense. It -- it was little like walking on egg shells. I mean, it was just a tense, tense time.

ERLICHMAN: The irony of the Pentagon papers is that they were not critical of Nixon. They were very critical of the Johnson administration.

But Nixon was committed to the proposition that classified documents -- secret documents ought not to be stolen and given away. Some of these documents actually did get into the hands of foreign governments, as well as part of them getting in the papers.

And the president and Kissinger were very upset that this man would be doing these kinds of things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were so mad at Ellsberg, this dirty guy, I don't have to tell you or anyone else that the -- that the -- the anger and the resentment toward -- toward Ellsberg was near hysterical levels in the White House.

HALDEMAN: This didn't develop any pathological hatred of -- of Daniel Ellsberg and developed into a rather cold-blooded and in my view, a -- a -- a misguided attempt to discredit Ellsberg in the public eye because at the time, Daniel Ellsberg was being made a public hero. And there was an effort to try to show that this man was not necessarily the -- the great savior of the nation that -- that many were portraying him as.

ERLICHMAN: I think I changed during the time I was at the White House. I'm not sure whether it was for the better. But it probably was not at the time that I was there. When you first go in, at least when I first went in there, I asked a lot of hard questions. Why are we doing it this way? What is the justification for this program? Why are we spending this money? Why does this fellow work here? Those kinds of things.

After a couple of years, I felt like I was defending the status quo, rather than challenging it and trying to get it changed and repaired and made better.

And that does not satisfy me at all. I had a very clear sense that I was becoming part of the problem after a while, rather than the solution. And I remember one day thinking I had just moved a pile of firewood from over there to over here, and today I was going to have to move it from over here back to over there and thinking how strange it was to coming to this historic place and dealing with these great issues, speaking to the president of the United States two or three times a day and feeling like I was just in the business of moving cordwood around.

And I thought to myself, well, if it's come to that, it's time I was out of here, but Nixon and Haldeman talked me in to staying.

NIXON: I told Bob the other day, I was trying to tune into the damn baseball game, and then the game went off, and CBS came on with a movie. That two magnificent handsome guys and a stupid old fellow in it. They were glorifying homosexuality!

EHRLICHMAN: Was that a panel show?

NIXON: Hell no! It was a movie.

HALDEMAN: No, that's a regular show. It's on every week. And usually it's just set in the guy's home. It's usually just that guy, who is a hardhat.

NIXON: That's right, he's a hardhat.

HALDEMAN: And you know he just looks like a slob.

NIXON: Looks like Jackie Gleason.

HALDEMAN: And then he has this hippie son-in-law.


HALDEMAN: And usually the general trend of it is to downgrade him and upgrade the hippie son-in-law! And make the square hardhat out to be bad.

EHRLICHMAN: What's it called? I have never seen it.

NIXON: Archie is the guy's name.

EHRLICHMAN: Now that's real family entertainment, isn't it?

NIXON: The point that I make is that, God damn, I do not think that you glorify on public television homosexuality. You ever see what -- you know what happened to the Greeks? Homosexuality destroyed them.

Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates.

EHRLICHMAN: He never had the influence that television had.

NIXON: The last six Roman emperors were fags. You see, homosexuality, dope, immorality in general, these the enemies of strong societies. That's why the communists and the left-wingers are pushing it. They're trying to destroy us.

EHRLICHMAN: It's fatal liberality.


EHRLICHMAN: It's fatal liberality. It's a different set of values that has been induced.

NIXON: Jesus Christ.

Well, getting back to my point, I would like to get everyone around here thinking, from now on, politically. Let's run the thing well and don't waste much time. We will run it better with our left hands than the others ever run theirs.

HALDEMAN: The president got into a discussion with me about the problems of Henry's briefing tactics. He feels that he does too much of a good job of telling people what they want to know, rather than what we want them to know.

And he also got into the point of the need for Kissinger to be more discrete regarding his glamorous young women, especially in public and especially in Washington, D.C. He feels it's OK for Henry to be a swinger in New York, Florida, and California, but he shouldn't be in Washington.

And he wants us at the White House dinners not to put him next to the most glamorous gal anymore, but rather you put him near some intelligent and interesting woman instead.




NIXON: Good evening.

I have requested this television time tonight to announce a major development in our efforts to build a lasting peace in the world.

I sent Dr. Kissinger, my assistant for national security affairs, to Peking during his recent world tour for the purpose of having talks with Premier Zhou Enlai. The announcement I shall now read is being issued simultaneously in Peking and in the United States. Premier Zhou Enlai, on behalf of the government of the People's Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China at an appropriate date before May 1972. President Nixon has accepted the invitation with pleasure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For two decades, every American president has been presented to the Chinese people as the archenemy, as the personification of hated capitalism and imperialism.

Most Asians recognize this development as a momentous step that can change the whole complexion of this part of the world.

DWIGHT CHAPIN, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: I found out I was going to China from Bob Haldeman. I was the acting chief of protocol for that trip, and it was one of the great mountaintop experiences.

The thing about the flight to China was -- one of the things was that it was just kind of surreal. The plane is taking off to go to China, and we have got a television set there watching us take off. I mean, everything about that trip was televised. I mean, it was a production from start to finish.

The president will journey to Peking in the dead of winter, a season especially severe in the Chinese capital. Following the joint announcement issued at 4:00 a.m. Peking time, the White House news secretary reemphasized Mr. Nixon's stated purpose for becoming the first American president to visit mainland China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As President Nixon has pointed out on a number of occasions, he shall try in the meetings with the leaders of the People's Republic of China to seek a new direction in the relationship between our two countries and to end the isolation of our two great peoples from each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four hours after his arrival, Mr. Nixon is taken to see Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. The fact that Chairman Mao arranged an immediate meeting with the American chief of state in his home is considered significant by diplomatic observers.

HALDEMAN: It's kind of funny. When I had called Ziegler, I sat him down in my room and I told him that I wanted him to know that the president at that moment had left here and was over meeting with Chairman Mao at his residence. Ron was holding a tangerine in his hand, took a bite of it, getting about half the tangerine in one bite, peeling and all.

He was to the say the least a little bit startled. Also speculated on all the wide range of possibilities that you have when you're sitting in a Chinese guest house with Red Army terror guarding you outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Included is an evening at the Peking Opera to see a ballet, "The Red Detachment of Women," that depicts the overthrow of a cruel overlord by female communist partisans. HALDEMAN: The evening ballet performance was quite an experience, a complete propaganda operation, extremely well done. The interpreter seated behind me explained the ideological of the ballet all the way through and wanted to be sure I understood all the points.

That was a rather odd sight to see the president clapping at the end for this kind of thing, which would have been horrifying at home. But it all seems to fit together somehow here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skies have been somber in Peking all day. And in the afternoon, a light snow began to fall. In the city streets, men and women with brooms began sweeping it up almost plate by plate. And it seemed to have no dimming effect at all on the exuberance of President Nixon and Premier Zhou Enlai in their third long conversation.

HALDEMAN: It's the end of a very memorable day in American history.

NIXON: That Italian story on Henry is the most -- really -- most -- did you see it?

HALDEMAN: I haven't seen it. Henry called me last night about it.

NIXON: Oh, it's unbelievable. Henry talks about the China trip, and the thing he said is, well, the thing about it that was really appealing to the public is, he said, that I did it -- he, Henry, did it alone. He said, people like to see somebody do something alone, and I conceived it all and did it all by myself, the whole China initiative.


NIXON: What happened? Was this some girl he met at a party or something?

HALDEMAN: This is the point that Rogers made to me yesterday, that he said Henry is always very careful in what he says publicly to build up the president, but never privately. Whenever he knows he's going to be quoted, he makes a big point of what a great job the president is doing, and where it really counts, in the private conversations, he builds himself.

NIXON: Do you have your -- the "Post" there?

HALDEMAN: Yes, I have it.

NIXON: Take a reading on it and give me a call back, will you?


NIXON: Bye. Call me back today. I'm not going to leave until 11:30. Bye.




CHAPIN: We all had little kids the same age. People had ice skating parties. There would be just all kinds of things. We're in our 30s and we're living.

There were pranks. There were these incredible friendships. And it was our senses of humor and our personalities that made it all, you know, nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Illegal bugging apparently was the aim of a team which broke into the Democratic national headquarters in Washington during the weekend, and the political background of the men charged in the case have kicked up a storm.

Barry Serafin has the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Watergate apartment hotel complex in Washington has a fortress-like appearance that is noted for its security, but the burglars penetrated that security to break into the sixth floor offices of the Democratic National Committee. Materials from files there was found in their possession.

Democratic spokesmen called the file information very mundane. Here and in the men's rooms in the adjoining hotel, police confiscated expensive photographic and electronic eavesdropping gear, as well as several thousand dollars in consecutively numbered bills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Currently about five men, one of them clearly under contract and employed by both the Republican National Committee and the campaign to reelect the president.

LARRY O'BRIEN, DNC CHAIRMAN: This -- I thought this administration was a law and order administration. And I have never seen such a crass violation of individual right as we have seen in this instance.

GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR: I must say that it's the legacy of years of wiretapping and snooping and violation of privacy of which the government itself has been too deeply involved.


NIXON: Thanks. I again proudly accept your nomination for president of the United States.


NIXON: And let us pledge ourselves to win an even greater victory this November in 1972.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CROWD: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Nixon's victory in the election is surely one of the biggest landslides ever. Let's look at the popular vote now, with almost all of it counted. With 98 percent of the precincts reporting, it's Nixon 45,800,000, McGovern 28,400,000. This adds up to a record-breaking 521 electoral votes for President Nixon, who won 49 states. McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia for 17 electoral votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At first, it was called the Watergate caper, five men apparently caught in the act of burglarizing and bugging Democratic headquarters in Washington.

But the episode grew steadily more sinister, no longer a caper, but the Watergate affair, escalating finally into charges of a high- level campaign of political sabotage and espionage, apparently unparalleled in American history.

The charges center about a man whose very name in Italian is "Secrets."

Joel Blockin (ph) reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Segretti. Reports in major newspapers say White House aides recruited Segretti for secret intelligence work and dirty tricks against the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Segretti went to college with several men now in the White House. He was particularly close to Dwight Chapin. And several press reports document recent links between Chapin and Segretti. A grand jury is investigating.

EHRLICHMAN: The only obvious problem is going to be the whole Watergate grand deal, Chapin, that whole...


NIXON: I saw...


NIXON: ... story on that.


NIXON: How are you going to handle that?

EHRLICHMAN: Well, I'm of mixed minds, but I thought one approach would be to attack "The Post" for picking on a fine, clean, upstanding, patriotic young man who has come to Washington and...

NIXON: Hearsay.

EHRLICHMAN: ... and done his part.


NIXON: Why don't you use the word McCarthyism?

EHRLICHMAN: Well, I had that in mind.

NIXON: The shocking double standard of "The Post" and "The New York Times" -- use that line.

EHRLICHMAN: All right.

NIXON: Being absolutely mum about the dirtiest campaign ever waged against a president in history. They don't -- there's not -- never been an editorial written about that. There's never been any reaction at all. And it's shocking that a paper with all the news that is fit to print would do that solely on the basis of innuendo and so on.


NIXON: Good luck.

EHRLICHMAN: All right, sir.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, Richard Nixon, do solemnly swear...

NIXON: I, Richard Nixon, do solemnly swear...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States...

NIXON: ... that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and will, to the best of my ability...

NIXON: ... and will, to the best of my ability...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

NIXON: ... preserve and protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.


NIXON: So help me God.

(APPLAUSE) CHAPIN: The phone rings. It's John Dean.

And he said, "Have you given any thought to what you're going to do next?"

And I said, "Does Bob know this?"

And he said, "Bob asked me to talk to you." I could not believe it.

So the next day I flew up to Camp David, and Bob met me and we went over to one of the cabins and talked. And we were both crying. And he said that it looked like it was going to be a political problem to the president because of all this Segretti stuff and this guy Sam Ervin may hold some hearings. And therefore, it's probably better for your career and everything else if you move on.

I mean, it was just horrible. Nothing that can describe how I felt.

So I sucked it up, said, "Yes, sir," went into the men's room to get myself straightened up, and there is the attorney general of the United States, Richard Kleindienst, bawling like a baby. He had just met with them (ph). And I'm thinking to myself, this thing is surreal. I can't believe this. So I went back, got on the helicopter and started figuring out my life.

GRAPHIC: Dwight Chapin was the first person from the White House to resign because of the Watergate investigation.

MIKE WALLACE, JOURNALIST: Leon Jaworski said if the American people had not demanded action in the Watergate scandal, it might have grown into outrages as great as those in Nazi Germany.

H.R. "BOB" HALDEMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, here again, you're into this verbal excess thing that it just seems to me is easy to do, after the fact.

WALLACE: Question, what was the mentality, what was the mindset in the Nixon White House that led to Watergate?

HALDEMAN: Watergate didn't lead from -- it didn't come from the Nixon White House, and I don't think there was any mindset that led to Watergate.

WALLACE: The president is out of office. Men in the Nixon White House went to jail. What was the mindset -- what happened?

HALDEMAN: That's the problem. I don't know what happened.

JOHN EHRLICHMAN, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR DOMESTIC AFFAIRS UNDER NIXON: The burglary had nothing to do with Richard Nixon at the time that it occurred. If he had kept distance between himself and that whole episode -- he didn't know about that in advance, I'm persuaded. I never heard anybody come forward with any evidence that he did. If he had kept distance between himself and that episode and just said, "You know, those guys did it. They're going to have to take their punishment," that is what could have saved Richard Nixon, I'm persuaded. A little quick surgery.

But he was the compulsive minutia man. He had to get involved. He had to -- he had to dabble in this -- in this conspiratorial spy stuff. And he pulled it all into his office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the dumbest thing you did?

EHRLICHMAN: The dumbest thing I did was -- was not to go to him when I realized this and say, "Look, if you don't go out there and make a clean breast of this thing, I'm going to the press room, and I'm going to tell them everything I know about this and then I'm going to walk out of here."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you would have had the courage to do that?

EHRLICHMAN: Well, obviously, I didn't. I just was -- I was not playing with a full deck. I just didn't know at the time, one, that there were tapes. Two, that he was as deeply involved as he was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Nixon has requested time on the networks this evening for a report on Vietnam.

RICHARD M. NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening. I have asked for this radio and television time tonight for the purpose of announcing that we, today, have concluded an agreement to end the war and bring peace with honor in Vietnam and in Southeast Asia.

The following statement is being issued at this moment in Washington and Hanoi. At 12:30 Paris time today, January 23, 1973, the agreement on ending the war and restoring peace in Vietnam was initialed by Dr. Henry Kissinger on behalf of the United States and special advisor Le Duc Tho on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Let us consecrate this moment by resolving together to make the peace we have achieved a peace that will last.

Thank you. And good evening.

(via phone): Haldeman, please.

HALDEMAN (via phone): Yes, sir?

NIXON: I thought you'd be amused to hear that the -- Eric Sevareid, Marvin Kalb and Dan Rather, they were just green -- sick.

HALDEMAN: It was a bad night for Eric.

NIXON: Well, they were all just sick about the fact. They weren't happy about it, that the peace had come. Yes, we're pissing on it all over. HALDEMAN: It was -- in a sense, it was so masterfully underplayed. In a way that -- you dropped this huge bomb in your first sentence, and there it was, and it just sits there. And I think it was just -- you know, it's acting like a thunder clap. But it was great.

NIXON: That's right. OK.

HALDEMAN: Very good.


WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER CBS ANCHOR: Senate Democrats have chosen North Carolina's Sam Ervin to investigate the Watergate bugging case. The committee would have full subpoena power and a half-million-dollar budget.

GRAPHIC: The grand jury heard secret testimony that H.R. Haldeman directed the Watergate cover-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it was learned today that some of the Watergate conspirators had been involved in illegal actions relating to the Pentagon Papers case, the whole affair took on a new and more sinister air. Two of the convicted Watergate conspirators, Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy, burglarized the offices of a psychiatrist of defendant Daniel Ellsberg to get files on Ellsberg.

GRAPHIC: The burglary of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office was traced to a White House special unit called "The Plumbers" overseen by John Ehrlichman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message of Watergate, as I read it, is the same as the message of the Pentagon Papers. From the eyes of people who work for the president, all law stops at the White House fence.

SEN. LOWELL WEICKER, WATERGATE COMMITTEE: The entire political system that the entire standard of politics in the country has reached an all-time low.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president and his cabinet and his administration owe this country an explanation first of all, and secondly an apology.

RONALD ZIEGLER, PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SECRETARY: I don't respect the shabby journalism that is being practiced by "The Washington Post."

DANIEL SCHORR, CBS NEWS: Informed sources say it was the Watergate prosecution that set off the recent series of explosions and that there are further time bombs in President Nixon's hands.

EHRLICHMAN (voice-over): We're in late April of 1973, and I'm really getting beat up in the press.

(on camera): We're going to make it. Yes, let me get up here to the door and then I'll -- OK. Excuse me. There we are.

I'm going to be following the unvarying practice of having no comment on this matter until its final disposition.

(voice-over): I have delegations of FBI agents in and out of my office all the time, and all of a sudden it has dawned on me that I have a very serious problem, that Richard Nixon has a very serious problem and a whole lot of other people have serious problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president flew south to look at flood damage and dedicated naval training station in Mississippi to Senator John Stennis. In the presidential party were H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.

EHRLICHMAN: We're on Air Force One. We're going off to dedicate a John Stennis memorial rocket launcher or something in Mississippi. And I'm standing on the flight deck, and it occurred to me for about 30 seconds that I could crash this airplane and that would put an end to everybody's problems. Mine, Nixon's and Haldeman's and everybody; everybody who was aboard.

I stepped off that airplane, and usually the drill is Richard Nixon steps off the airplane, and all the cameras click away and all that. He got off and nobody paid any attention to him. I got off and boy, you know, they were all taking morgue shots.

In the very last conversation I had with him there, we were talking about this break-in, in California. The Ellsberg psychiatrist break-in. And he said, "I didn't know about that, did I?" And I had to -- I had to indicate to him that he did know about it.

NIXON (via phone): That, of course, is totally -- totally out of our ken. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

EHRLICHMAN (via phone): Yes, sir.

NIXON: Goddammit, I never heard of it, John. I should have been told about that, shouldn't I?

EHRLICHMAN: Well, I'm not so sure but what you weren't. My recollection is that this was discussed with you.

NIXON: Yes. Yes. Hmmmm. Well, I've got to know about that. I mean, if I'm in that kind of a position, I'm in a God -- I'm in a position I just didn't know about, believe me. Throughout this thing, I must say I have not known -- I didn't know about the Watergate and I didn't know about these other but I -- I knew that we were checking all this, but my God, I didn't...

EHRLICHMAN: I didn't know there was a taping system in the room at the time. Since then, it's occurred to me that he was talking for the record, among other things.

But at the same time, I'm convinced he really didn't know the difference between what was true and what wasn't true at any given moment. For a long time. And he could -- he could persuade himself of almost anything, which is kind of too bad.

NIXON: Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Ziegler calling you.


ZIEGLER (via phone): Yes, sir, I talked to Bob, and I told him that your decision was to ask for the resignation and you had thought this through for now three weeks. And I told him that you recognize that their lawyers don't agree with this approach and that they don't agree with this approach, but the president feels clear in his mind now that this must be done. And that's what he wants.

And Bob said, fine. He understands. He feels it's the wrong decision, but he will abide by it.

And in terms of John, he said, "I think John is going to be more difficult in accepting this."

Bob said, "I'll do what I can with John."

NIXON: Good. Big man.

ZIEGLER: He sure is.

NIXON: Big man.

You're saying, in other words, he's going to go talk to John, I presume?

ZIEGLER: He's going to talk to him on the helicopter.

NIXON: OK. Thank you.

ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.

CRONKITE: Good evening. President Nixon moved at the highest level today to cleanse the White House of the taint of the Watergate scandal.

ZIEGLER (on camera): The president has asked me to announce that he has today received and accepted the resignation of two of his closest friends and most trusted assistants in the White House.

DAN RATHER, FORMER CBS NEWS ANCHOR: In their statements of resignation, Haldeman and Ehrlichman blamed many of their problems on the press. Whether the president plans to incorporate any such statement in his nationwide address tonight is unknown.

NIXON (on camera): Today, in one of the most difficult decisions of my presidency, I accepted the resignations of two of my closest associates in the White House, Bob Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, two of the finest public servants it has been my privilege to know.

I want to stress that, in accepting these resignations, I mean to leave no implication whatever of personal wrongdoing on their part. And I leave no implication tonight of implication on the part of others who have been charged in this matter.

God bless America. And God bless each and every one of you.

(via phone): Hello.

HALDEMAN (via phone): Hi.

NIXON: Hope I didn't let you down.

HALDEMAN: No, sir. You got your points over. And now you've got to set right and move on. You're right where you ought to be.

NIXON: Well, it's a tough thing, Bob, for you and John and the rest. But goddammit, I'm never going to discuss this son of a bitching Watergate thing again. Never, never, never, never!

The interesting thing, you know, we haven't heard a -- the only cabinet officer that has called is Cap Weinberger, bless his soul. All the rest, you know, are waiting to see what the polls show.

Let me say you're a strong man, goddammit, and I love you. I love John and all the rest. And by God, keep the faith. Keep the faith. You're going to win this son of a bitch.

HALDEMAN: Absolutely.

NIXON: I don't know whether you can call and get me any reactions and call me back. Like in the old style. Would you mind?

HALDEMAN: I don't think I can. I don't...

NIXON: No, I agree.

HALDEMAN: I'm kind of in an odd spot to do that...

NIXON: No, don't call a goddamned soul. The hell with it. Let me just say, getting this call from me -- from you, when I haven't heard from any cabinet officer except Weinberger an hour afterwards, and thank God, and no staff member.

HALDEMAN: Well, when I called, the board said they were instructed not to put any calls through. So...

NIXON: The hell with that! I told them to put all the calls through.

HALDEMAN: Well, that may be why you haven't gotten them, though, because that's what they told me.

NIXON: All right. I'll change it. I'll change it. Fine, but -- God bless you, boy. God bless you. I love you, as you know.


NIXON: Like my brother. All right, boy. Keep the faith.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dwight Chapin, President Nixon's former appointment secretary, today was found guilty of lying to the Watergate grand jury, investigating political sabotage during the 1972 presidential campaign.

CHAPIN: I will never, ever under any circumstance have a regret for any contribution or any hardships or anything else that have come out of the work that I've done with Richard Nixon.

GRAPHIC: Dwight Chapin served nine months at Lompoc Federal Prison for his role in Segretti's "dirty tricks" campaign. He later became a public relations executive, publisher and business consultant. He currently lives in Long Island and remains involved in politics.

I loved what I did, and it was very important to me. And I think these friendships just, you know, are golden, and they still exist.

CRONKITE: John Ehrlichman, President Nixon's domestic affairs advisor, is behind bars tonight, the highest-ranking former Nixon aide to go to prison so far.

GRAPHIC: John Ehrlichman served 18 months at Safford Correction Facility for his role in the Ellsberg break-in and Watergate cover-up.

EHRLICHMAN: For myself, I went through a process of being just absolutely stripped bare. I woke up one day realizing that there was nothing left. There just really wasn't anything. And it occurred to me that there might be an opportunity in all of that to do it over again, simpler and better.

GRAPHIC: He moved to Santa Fe and became a best-selling novelist and political commentator. He never saw Nixon again. Ehrlichman died in 1999.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, convicted for his part in the Watergate scandal, is here to see his daughter graduate from law school. On Wednesday, Haldeman reports to the federal prison in Lompoc, California, to begin serving a 2-1/2 to 8-year sentence.

GRAPHIC: H.R. Haldeman was convicted for his role in the Watergate cover-up. He served 18 months at Lompoc Federal Prison.

HALDEMAN: I've spent five years in a legal defense against, first of all, an investigation, and then a charge, then a trial. And then a year and a half in prison. All of that time, I had to work on my defense.

The time is here to stop defending, at least on my part, and to start looking ahead. There's a lot more to my life than Watergate. There's a lot more to my life than politics. GRAPHIC: He later became a successful real-estate developer. Haldeman died in 1993, after refusing treatment for cancer.

Richard Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974. President Ford pardoned him one month later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): There was a town so quiet and still, then came the folks from Capitol Hill. Sentiment is not for sale. Mr. Nixon, you're to blame.

GRAPHIC: Nixon was never indicted and refused to testify on behalf of his former aides.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): You made our town your summer home.

GRAPHIC: He retired to San Clemente and died in 1994.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): You crowned it with the Capitol dome. You took a step out on the beach. Now Cotmans (ph) Point is out of reach.

There was a town so quiet and still. Then came the folks from Capitol Hill. Sentiment is not for sale. Mr. Nixon, you're to blame.

At 9 we used to close the bar. That was OK with FDR. Oh, Mr. Nixon, you're so great, but must your guests stay up so late?

There was a town so quiet and still. Then came the folks from Capitol Hill. Sentiment is not for sale. Mr. Nixon, you're to blame. Mr. Nixon, you're to blame. Mr. Nixon, you're to blame.

RATHER: Convicted Watergate cover-up conspirator John Ehrlichman is out of a job. The one-time White House aide to former President Richard Nixon has ended his brief career as an ice-cream pitchman on television. By all accounts the ad campaign was simply a meltdown.

EHRLICHMAN: Try this stuff. It's unbelievable. And believe me, I'm an expert on that subject.

RATHER: The California ice cream company that ran the ad said the consumer response was so negative, the Ehrlichman commercials are being taken off the air immediately.