Thursday, November 18, 2010

Budding Library

C-SPAN has begun airing Nixon library director Tim Naftali's interviews with Richard Nixon's ex-staffers, beginning with Bud Krogh (shown here), most famous for organizing Elvis Presley's 1970 White House visit and running the leaker-hunting Plumbers unit that burglarized the office of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist, Lewis Fielding, in September 1971. Krogh did federal time for violating Fielding's civil rights.

While Krogh's Wikipedia entry puts all the blame on him, some kind of surreptitious effort to find out what Fielding knew about Ellsberg's public activities was approved by top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, who later tried to pin it all on the president. Proving Nixon's foreknowledge (which he credibly denied) of the Fielding break-in is Watergate's mother lode. Scholars from Stanley Kutler to Rick Perlstein have tried and failed.

Naftali did 126 interviews, including with Dwight Chapin, who used the opportunity to accuse Nixon of having been present when chief of staff H. R. "Bob" Haldeman ordered him to set up a dirty tricks unit for Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. The allegation would've been big news to federal prosecutors and the House Judiciary Committee. It's important to remember that Chapin was jailed for lying under oath.

Does C-SPAN plan to air the Chapin interview? And will we ever see it in the new Nixon library Watergate exhibit, which has been strenuously opposed by Nixon's ex-aides?

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