The papers of journalists remain one of the Manuscript Division's strongest areas of collecting. The twenty one collections described below feature materials on Watergate and include David Broder, Nancy Dickerson, Mary McGrory, Meg Greenfield, Neil Sheehan, Daniel Schor, Anthony Lewis, and Richard Dudman among many others.
Joseph and Stewart Alsop were prominent journalists and columnists from the 1940s to the 1970s. As Washington insiders who knew many high ranking politicians, they often had an impact on policy making. Papers relating to Watergate in the Joseph and Stewart Alsop Papers are those chiefly of older brother Joseph, who wrote a syndicated column for many years for the Washington Post. The Part III: Subject File consists primarily of a collection of notes, correspondence, and printed matter assembled by the Alsops as source material for their columns and other writings. The subject files in Part III contain one folder each for the topics Watergate Affair and Richard M. Nixon.
Also of possible interest are letters between Joseph Alsop and President Nixon about the Vietnam War, which are located in the Part III: General Correspondence series. Other topics in this series feature political conventions and the elections of 1968 and 1972. Although this material precedes Watergate, these files may provide background helpful in understanding the beginnings of the scandal. Additional Nixon correspondence pertaining to the Vietnam War is present in Part II: General Correspondence series, 1964-1967. These letters reflect Joseph Alsop’s support for the involvement of the United States in the conflict and indicate that Nixon was sympathetic to Alsop’s point of view.
Material relating to Nixon’s early political career is located in the series Part I: Article, Book, and Speech File covering the period from 1937 to 1963. This file includes articles on Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller and are accompanied by notes, memoranda, correspondence, reference material, and drafts, as well as manuscripts for Stewart’s book Nixon & Rockefeller.
The following collection title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. A link to the collection finding aid is included when available.
For over seventy years Herbert Block, political cartoonist and journalist known as Herblock, had a long and prolific career satirizing politicians and political events for the Washington Post. He once said that he had drawn more cartoons of Richard M. Nixon than any other politician. After Nixon’s resignation, the Post ran a full page of his cartoons about Watergate. Block also shared the Pulitzer Prize for public service awarded in 1973 to the newspaper for its investigation of Watergate.
Researchers interested in Block’s original cartoons should consult the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. The Herbert Block Papers in the Manuscript Division complement that collection. The bulk of the Block Papers relating to Watergate are located in the Writings File series in three books featuring Block’s cartoons. Herblock Special Report published in 1974 traces Nixon’s political career as a congressman to his resignation and pardon by President Gerald R. Ford. Files include drafts, galleys, notes and background material, cartoon dummy sheets, and publicity files. Herblock State of the Union pertains to Nixon’s first term of the presidency, and Herblock: A Cartoonist’s Life published in 1993 documents Block’s career through cartoons from the Roosevelt era to Bill Clinton’s presidency, including brief histories of scandals of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush administrations.
Other files referencing Nixon and the scandal occur in two other series, Correspondence and Miscellany. A folder “Nixon, Richard M.” located in the special correspondence group of the Correspondence series contains readers’ reactions to Block’s cartoons about Nixon prior to Watergate. Researchers may also want to review the general file of the Correspondence series. Although Watergate is not listed as a topic of correspondence, it is probably mentioned in letters between Block and his many correspondents that comprise cartoonists, editors, politicians, Supreme Court justices, government officials, publishers, journalists, and activists. In the Miscellany series, the cartoons, reproductions and related material group includes a subject file, “Nixon, Richard M., 1948-1974.”
The following collection title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. A link to the collection finding aid is included when available.
Described as the “dean of the Washington press corps” in his obituary in the New York Times, David S. Broder was not only widely respected but one of the better sourced reporters in Washington, D.C. During a career that spanned more than fifty years, he provided insight and analysis about national politics as a reporter and syndicated newspaper columnist for the Washington Post and as a commentator for several television news programs. In 1973 he won a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for his distinguished commentary about the Watergate scandal.1
Four series of the David S. Broder Papers contain material pertaining to the Watergate Affair. The series are: Correspondence, Subject File, Writings, and Notebooks and Notes. The Correspondence series consists mainly of incoming letters to Broder from colleagues, members of Congress, government officials, staff of congressional and government officials, friends, and the public pertaining primarily to Broder's work as a reporter and columnist. This series is organized into two groups: alphabetical file and chronological file. Letters include compliments or complaints about Broder's column, congratulations on his Pulitzer Prize Award, and comments about his writings. While Watergate is specifically mentioned in the correspondence, other topics such as presidential elections and the Vietnam War may be of interest since they were impacted by the scandal. Worthy of mention is a letter from the author James M. Cain (alphabetical file) in which he writes about his contempt toward President Richard M. Nixon and his explanations about Watergate. Also of possible interest are several impassioned letters concerning a Broder column about Nixon's trip to China in 1976; readers chastised Broder for his critical comments about the former president.
The largest series of the Broder Papers, the Subject File, engages Watergate through multiple topics. The series includes correspondence, interviews, articles and columns (drafts and newsprints) by Broder, notebooks and notes, voter surveys and interviews, speeches and statements, press releases, political memorabilia, newspaper clippings, and printed matter. The Subject File reflects Border’s contacts with politicians and their staff in Washington, D.C. His reporting made use of these insiders to provide details about the scandal while it unfolded. Topics most germane are impeachment, Richard M. Nixon, and the Watergate Affair. Other files referencing the topic and its impact include the Republican Party, Gerald Ford, elections, the presidency, and the Democratic Party.
Two other series of the Broder Papers also allude to Watergate and its influence on elections and the nation. The chronological file in the Writings series includes a few articles and columns, draft and newsprints, that Broder wrote for the Post. The Notebooks and Notes series, arranged chronologically, documents chiefly his coverage of presidential elections from 1972 to 1992. They record Broder's conversations and interviews with candidates and his impressions of them while they are participating in debates, rallies, town hall meetings, and other campaign activities.
The following collection title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. A link to the collection finding aid is included when available.
“These are difficult times for people who are defending the Richard M. Nixon administration. No matter where they go they are attacked by pseudo-liberals, McGovern lovers, heterosexual constitutionalists, and paranoid John Dean believers,” Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald wrote in 1973. Known for his tongue in cheek sarcasm, Buchwald proceeded to list a galaxy of responses for Nixon defenders such as “I’m not for breaking the law, but sometimes you have to do it to save the country,” while also repeatedly returning to a consistent stand by: “What about Chappaquiddick?”2
A voluminous collection, the Art Buchwald Papers do not contain many files directly focusing on the Watergate Affair though the Speeches series does contain a talk entitled, “Watergate.” However, throughout his career, Buchwald circulated with many key political figures in Washington making the General Correspondence series worth consulting. William F. Buckley, Katharine Graham, Hubert H. Humphrey, Gerald R. Ford, Henry Kissinger, George Plimpton, Arthur Schlesinger, and even Richard M. Nixon among numerous others corresponded with Buchwald during this period.
As one of the first women correspondents on network television, Nancy Dickerson stood “in the vanguard” of broadcast journalism.3 Dickerson covered both international and domestic politics as a reporter and won a Peabody Award in 1983 for “784 Days that Changed America: From Watergate to Resignation,” (1982), a documentary that followed the trajectory of the notorious political scandal.
Famous for her ubiquitous “inside the beltway” contacts, Dickerson once noted “'My social life always seems to revolve around business.''4 As a result, researchers will want to consult her Professional Files series consisting of correspondence, financial material from her production company, news clippings, speeches and writings, scripts and related materials from television broadcasts, and a subject file. Topics of interest in the series include Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Melvin Laird, and Watergate. Additionally, the Professional File also contains materials from the aforementioned Watergate documentary including interviews with John Ehrlichman, Gerald R. Ford, Elliot L. Richardson, and John J. Sirica as well as 1982 polling and survey data regarding the scandal.
Finally, researchers might also find Dickerson’s Personal File and Scrapbooks series of interest. Though the former pertains largely to correspondence with her family and focuses predominantly on her earlier years, several dates correspond with both the Watergate Affair and her 1982 documentary on the subject. Additionally, her scrapbooks, assembled by her son John Dickerson (journalist for CBS), correspond to both events.
Journalist for the St. Louis Dispatch, Richard Dudman cut a swaggering figure covering international and domestic politics for over three decades. When he and two other colleagues were captured by the Vietcong in 1970 beginning forty days in captivity, Dudman remarked, “If we get out of this alive, we’ll have a hell of a good story.”5 Unsurprisingly, Dudman later published Forty Days with the Enemy documenting the experience, and remains best known for his coverage of the Vietnam War and its aftermath in Cambodia.
In 1969, the Dispatch named Dudman Washington Bureau Chief providing him with a useful vantage point from which to cover Watergate three years later. The Richard Dudman Papers consist of correspondence, notebooks, writings, and background material relating mainly to his career as a journalist with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Researchers will want to consult the Subject File series where they will discover materials on Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Folders in the series comprise correspondence, notes, reports, clippings, printed matter, and miscellaneous material compiled for background reference.
Much like other reporters, Dudman kept notebooks of his news coverage, which often correspond with the stories he wrote. Notebooks, covering the years 1972-1975 and located in the series of the same title, and the General Correspondence series provide further insight into his work on the Watergate Affair.
Finally, the Miscellany series also contains files related to the Nixon administration and the Watergate Scandal reflected most directly in folders labeled Correspondence, Martin Halperin, and the Central Intelligence Agency among others.
Philip L. Geyelin served as editor of the Washington Post’s editorial page during the period of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. While credited for slowly changing the Post’s position against the Vietnam War, he also steered the editorial page during its coverage of Watergate, earning the editorial page recognition as part of the Pulitzer Prize awarded to the newspaper in 1973. In his Washington Post obituary, a colleague said that the paper performed at its best during the scandal under Geyelin, "’The Post strengthened its leadership in the persistent concern of American democracy: holding the president accountable to tell the truth and don't break the law.’”6
Files in the Geyelin Papers that pertain directly to Watergate may be found in the Subject File under the heading “Watergate Affair.” There are eight folders on the topic including correspondence, clippings, notes and printed matter, press releases and statements, transcripts of broadcast, and other material. Also represented in the Subject File is material relating to President Richard M. Nixon; most of the files pertain to his administration’s foreign policy. Two other Nixon files cover his first year as president and his years after the presidency from 1983 to 1985. Researchers interested in investigating further may want to consult the correspondence files in the Personal File series. The finding aid indicates that a portion of this correspondence relates to Geyelin's career.
In 1972 CBS News hired Fred P. Graham as their legal affairs correspondent to assist the network in covering the Watergate Affair. Previously he had worked as the Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times. Although one of the Manuscript Division’s smaller collections, the Fred P. Graham Papers contain material relating to Watergate. The Subject File includes one folder about the “Watergate trials.” Researchers may also want to consult files pertaining to various Supreme Court justices located in the Subject File who sat on the Court at the time of the scandal. Another relevant series is the Notebooks consisting of Graham’s reporting notes for CBS News. For researchers wishing to conduct a wider search the General Correspondence series may contain letters pertinent to Watergate. The Correspondence series is further organized into two categories: Personal and Letters from the public. Both are arranged chronologically.
Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham once described Meg Greenfield as “independent and uninfluenced by trends or molds. Her judgment is very dispassionate.”7 Greenfield’s 1978 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing attests to Graham’s observation.
Over the course of four decades in journalism, three-fourths of which she spent at the Post, Greenfield “set the tone of the debate early, before it became conventional wisdom” such that her ideas often became part of “the water stream,” editor and journalist Jodie Allen noted.8
Greenfield’s history with Richard M. Nixon dates back to 1960 when she wrote what some described as a scathing account of the future president during the 1960 presidential campaign: “Ideas never exist for him until they have been pitted against something else – an extreme danger, a radically different point of view, or a potential attack from some sinister quarter.”9 In 1968, Greenfield arrived at the Washington Post just as Nixon ascended to the presidency.
Researchers exploring the Meg Greenfield Papers for materials related to Watergate will want to first consult the Subject File series, which consists of Greenfield's research for her articles and columns and includes folders on Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, the latter containing a transcript of recorded presidential conversations, annotated, 1974.
“[A] fixture in the dining rooms of Georgetown,” the New York Times External pointed out in her 1999 obituary, Greenfield rubbed elbows with and often critiqued the power players working in the nation’s capital. Due to her extensive Washington, D.C., networks, researchers might also consider exploring the General Correspondence series, though be cautioned that the bulk of the letters contained in the series date from the 1980s and 1990s. Correspondents include William F. Buckley, Leonard Garment, Katharine Graham, Herb Block, and Daniel P. Moynihan. The Professional Activities File series, comprised of correspondence and administrative records, might also prove useful, though most of the correspondence that appears in the series comes from the public. Finally, the Personal Family Papers series includes a frontpage stereotype of Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation.
By the time of his death in 2005, Henry Grunwald had become one of the most influential editors in Time’s history, ranked by some observers as second only to founder Henry Luce. Assuming the role of managing editor in 1968, Grunwald oversaw a transformation in the magazine’s format and thrust as it shifted from a conservative perspective to a more centrist outlook, a turn that coincided with Richard M. Nixon’s presidency.
Described as a “moderate conservative” or a “conservative moderate,” Grunwald maintained connections with the Nixon White House, most notably through his friendship with Henry Kissinger. “He was a man of absolute integrity with respect to journalism,” Kissinger remarked, “He was all together a man of great honor and great decency …”10
Despite his friendship with Kissinger, Grunwald authored Time’s first editorial in its 50-year history in which he called for Nixon’s resignation. Having endorsed Nixon in three presidential campaigns, the magazine’s November 12, 1973, editorial arrived with “deep reluctance” but asserted Nixon had “irredeemably lost his moral authority, the confidence of most in the country, and therefore his ability to govern effectively.”11 Grunwald concluded that Nixon’s presidency had “passed a tragic point of no return.” As historian Keith W. Olson argues, the editorial confirmed “that Nixon had lost mainstream Republican support, and … gave legitimacy to calls for the president to resign.”12
The Henry A. Grunwald Papers provide several avenues of research regarding Watergate. The Writings series provides the most obvious material as it contains files on Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon and Watergate. Researchers will also want to consult the Time Inc. Editorial Files series and its Correspondence (mostly with individuals outside the magazine), Staff Files (internal correspondence and memoranda), and Subject Files subseries, the last of which consists of correspondence, notes, clippings, and other materials, concerning events, meetings, groups, organizations, proposed projects, and upcoming articles and publications. Finally, though much of it dates from 1984 forward, the Correspondence series comprised chiefly of personal letters, notes, and emails with individuals and organizations, does contain letters dating from 1972 to 1975.
Upon George Lardner’s death fellow investigative journalist, Charles Lewis, described Lardner as “an outstanding, tenaciously thorough ... reporter for 40 years, from 1963 to 2004, covering the most significant political events in the United States in the second half of the 20th century . . . .”13 The papers of George Lardner indicate the extensive amount of research that he conducted for his news stories, and Watergate is well documented in the subject files of the collection.
The series for Part I: Subject File and Part II: Subject File of the Lardner Papers reflect the manner in which Lardner acquired, received, and pursued information and then developed his research into news stories. Both sets of subject files include Lardner's articles, correspondence, interviews, notes, and the research material he collected as documentary evidence. Research material includes newspaper and related clippings, reports, legal documents and trial records, government documents, some of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, congressional hearing records, photographs, and printed matter.
An array of material (approximately 25 boxes) may be found under “Watergate Affair” in the Part I: Subject File. These files pertain to the trials, campaign funding scandals, especially the Milk Fund investigation, impeachment issues, and government and media access to Richard M. Nixon's recordings of conversations in the Oval Office. Also present in the subject files of Part I are two folders relating to Nixon’s taxes found in “Nixon, Richard M., taxes.” Other files in this Part I series include folders relating to Nixon under the subject headings National Archives and Records Administration (proposed presidential library) and the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (a 1976 Nixon deposition).
The Part II: Subject File series also contains a large group of files (approximately 17 boxes) featuring the scandal and are labeled “Watergate Affair.” The majority of these files concern the cover-up trial. Other relevant material in the Part II: Subject File may be found under Nixon’s name. These documents relate chiefly to the National Archives and Records Administration and Nixon’s presidential materials and the White House tapes.
As a columnist writing from a liberal perspective, Anthony Lewis reported and commented for over five decades for the New York Times on many issues relating to national and international affairs. Often the columns reflected Lewis’s interest in the law and his belief in its importance to a diverse country such as the United States. Therefore, he had strong feelings about the Watergate scandal and the conduct of President Richard M. Nixon. In his column on February 25, 1974, he wrote: “There is no respect for truth, and the community loses the belief that knits it together. . . . Americans may hesitate at what seems to some regicide but they understand that their sickness comes from the king.”14
The majority of the Anthony Lewis Papers pertaining to the Watergate Affair are located in the Part II: Annual File, the largest series in the collection. Lewis used these files mainly as background research for his reporting and columns. The Annual File includes correspondence, subject files, interviews, notes, reports, newspaper clippings, and speeches and writings by Lewis. These files are arranged by year except for the first group of files from 1949 to 1965 which were filed together as a group. The annual files for 1973 and 1975 contain the most material that pertains to Watergate under the headings “Watergate” and “Nixon, Richard M.”
A Nixon folder under the topic “Press” is represented in the 1974 Annual File. Researchers may also want to search more broadly under related terms such as wiretapping, courts, and the Supreme Court. The Annual File in Part II contains additional folders about Nixon for the years from 1976 to 1992, with only a few of those years having no files.
The Part II: Annual File also includes Lewis’s correspondence with an array of individuals including colleagues, Supreme Court justices, judges, lawyers, members of Congress, government officials, academics, entertainers, friends, and the public. Most of the letters are filed in the miscellaneous folders located after topics in the Annual File. These files require more time to search but often contain insightful letters.
Additional correspondence relating to the scandal may be found in Part I: Letters from Readers and Part II: Letters from Readers. The topical file of the Letters from Readers in Part I includes files on Watergate (3 folders) and Richard M. Nixon (1 folder). The chronological file, no doubt, contains letters as well. Part II of the Letters from Readers series features letters pertaining to Nixon that are located by his name under the years 1981 and 1984. Also worthy of mention is a 1973 notebook in the Part II: Notebook series that contains notes relating to Watergate.
In 2004 after Mary McGrory’s death, American journalist David Corn described McGrory as “the best liberal newspaper columnist of the latter 20th Century.”15 McGrory spent much of her five-decade career at the Washington Star but moved to the Washington Post in 1981 when the Star folded. McGrory’s unflattering columns about Nixon and Watergate earned her a place on Nixon’s “enemies list.” Something she viewed as an honor. Her coverage of the scandal won her a Pulitzer Prize in Commentary in 1975. Almost every series in the Mary McGrory Papers contains material relating to Watergate.
The collection features three series of correspondence: Personal Correspondence, VIP Correspondence, and General Correspondence. The letters from friends and colleagues in the Personal Correspondence document McGrory's personal and professional interests. The VIP Correspondence is composed chiefly of incoming letters from members of Congress, presidents, government officials, and other prominent individuals, and pertains primarily to McGrory's work as columnist. In many of the VIP letters, the correspondents speak off the record and provide insight about political and foreign policy issues. The majority of the General Correspondence is made up of incoming letters from readers of McGrory's column. McGrory answered the majority of her mail, and her responses are filed in the draft responses of the General Correspondence series. For researchers looking for public opinion about Watergate, the letters in the General Correspondence from readers are a good source. Most of the correspondence is arranged chronologically.
The Subject File contains eight folders for Richard M. Nixon and includes one folder about the Watergate Affair. Researchers interested in Nixon’s political campaigns and how they might have influenced what transpired in the Watergate scandal may want to consult the campaign files in this series. Although there is only one folder for the 1972 presidential campaign, material for the presidential campaigns of 1960 and 1968 are extensive. Also present in the Subject File are files pertaining to McGrory’s coverage of Nixon’s 1962 campaign for governor of California. Other relevant topics of interest in the Subject File are Spiro T. Agnew, Alexander Meigs Haig, Henry Kissinger, and Vietnam. McGrory’s strong stance against the Vietnam War and Nixon’s handling of it put her at odds with the administration and was one of the reasons she was on his enemies list.
It is McGrory’s columns that best reveal her thoughts about Watergate and her dislike of Nixon. Her columns are located in the chronological file of the “newspaper columns, articles, and book reviews” of the Speeches and Writings File. The bulk of the chronological file consists of photocopied newspaper clippings, although there are some typewritten drafts in some of the early files. In addition, there are two scrapbooks with columns for 1973 and 1974 in the Oversize series. Material pertaining to McGrory’s Pulitzer Prize Award for Watergate may be found in the awards and honors section of the Miscellany series.
The Notebooks and Notes series documents McGrory's coverage of the Washington political scene from 1956 to 2003. She worked like a beat reporter and did actual fieldwork to write her columns. McGrory wrote many of these notes while on campaign trips or attending congressional hearings, press conferences, and other functions. The Library received no notebooks for 1973 and 1974, key years in the Watergate scandal, but there are notebooks and notes for 1972 and the 1970s. Researchers interested in Nixon’s earlier political campaigns may want to consult the notebooks and notes for those years.
During the Richard M. Nixon administration, the New Republic’s John Osborne occupied a conspicuous media presence. Osborne arrived at the New Republic in 1968 establishing “The Nixon Watch” column, later renamed “The White House Watch” during subsequent presidencies.
Known for cultivating inside sources and his use of official documents, Osborne established numerous contacts within the administration including Leonard Garment among others. “My stuff is based on legwork,” he told the Washington Post in 1977. “I get to know and see as many people as possible. I read transcripts of White House business. I get on the telephone.”16 Though he attended press conferences, he rarely asked questions, holding such events in “very low esteem,” he wrote in 1972. “I prefer to do my serious questioning in private, with the various Nixon assistants who grant me audience now and then,” he added.17 Historian Rick Perlstein credited Osborne as being “the reporter with the best contacts in the West Wing,” during the period.18
Osborne did not shrink from unpopular opinions such as when he supported President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, despite public opinion strongly against it. At the same time, he could be withering in his assessment of Nixon's successor:" Gerald Ford is an awfully nice man who isn't up to the presidency." Nor did his reporting on Nixon soften the president’s sometimes, coarse persona, though White officials denied hearing the president utter any vulgarities. “The simple fact is that in the many hours I have spent with the President I have never heard him use the word attributed to him in Mr. Osborne’s piece,” John Ehrlichman wrote to the New Republic on one occasion.19
Osborne accepted such criticism philosophically, pointing out that his objective was not to "drive Mr. Nixon up the wall that my complaining readers want to see him pasted to. My purpose is to convey as clear a portrayal of him and his policies as I am capable of conveying. If the portrayal drives him up the wall, which I doubt, so be it." Yet, as reported by New York Times journalist Tom Wicker, when asked by Nixon aide/counselor Bryce Harlow as to why Osborne and other reporters "hate my guy Nixon," Osborne conceded as much. "You've trapped me ... I'm profoundly embarrassed .... The press corps call [Nixon] the cardboard man because we can't see past the facade of the candidate. I've never met the real Richard Nixon." Wicker, who wrote numerous columns critical of the president later admitted "some of them in retrospect, overstated and rather righteous." Wicker added, "The fact that I found him no more appealing as a personality than did most reporters may have affected my view subconsciously."20
The John Osborne Papers represent a robust collection of materials related to the Watergate Affair, the bulk of which can be found in the New Republic subseries located in the Journalism series. The subseries contains drafts, notes and notebooks, and reference files produced and collected by Osborne while writing his regular columns, "The Nixon Watch," and "White House Watch." Of special note, The White House file in the subseries consists of Osborne’s handwritten and typed notes, interviews, memoranda, notebooks and other documents relating to the Nixon Presidency and its successors to Ronald Reagan. The Watergate files within the White House file are also substantive. Researchers interested in the public’s response to his reporting will want to consult reader’s letters found in the Correspondence files in the first boxes of the subseries.
At the time of his death in 2009, former White House speechwriter and Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist, William Safire, if not having eclipsed his connection to the Richard M. Nixon administration, had at least mitigated it after having spent over two decades with the paper from 1973 to 2005. One obituary described him as “a pugnacious contrarian … a libertarian conservative,” who “did much of his own reporting” and believed in smaller, more limited government combined with an expansive individual freedom.21
Nixon first took notice of Safire after the famous “Kitchen Debate'' between himself and Nikita Khrushchev. Safire had set up the now famous exchange in Moscow during late July 1959. Impressed, Nixon brought Safire on for his 1960 presidential campaign. Following Nixon’s defeat, Safire established his own public relations agency in 1961. Safire worked again with Nixon in 1962 (California gubernatorial race), 1966 (national effort to promote Republican candidates), and 1968 campaigns. Afterwards he joined the White House as a speechwriter for the administration alongside Patrick Buchanan and Raymond K. Price. The speech writing team gained fame for its rhetorical flourishes, many of them penned by Safire. “The troglodytic leftists who dominate Congress … work themselves into a lather over an alleged shortage of nutriments in a child’s box of Wheaties,” Vice President Spiro Agnew told one Illinois audience in the run up to the 1972 presidential race.22 Agnew’s example serves as just one example of Safire’s linguistic dexterity.
The bulk of the William Safire Papers spans the years during his closest association with Richard Nixon, 1960-1973. Admittedly, very little material related to Watergate appears in the collection. However, it does provide a prime vantage point from which to observe the administration’s trajectory toward the affair perhaps exemplified by his New York Times obituary which summarized Safire’s time working for Nixon succinctly: “White House wordsmith in the tumultuous Era of the war in Vietnam, Nixon’s visit to China and the gathering storm of the Watergate Scandal.” Due to his position in the administration, Safire’s arrival at the newspaper was not universally applauded. David Halberstam labeled him a Nixon apologist. While Safire initially downplayed Nixon’s abuses, when it was discovered his phones had too been tapped while working for the White House, the former speechwriter adjusted course acknowledging, “Watergate was essentially an abuse of power by the government in order to affect an election.”23
For researchers interested in Nixon’s longer career, they will want to begin with the Public Relations File which begins with the 1960 presidential election campaign and include advertising material, correspondence, reports concerning strategy, speeches, and some of the evidence assembled to contest the election results. It also includes the 1966 campaign during which Safire and Nixon worked to get fellow Republicans elected nationally. Nixon’s 1962 California gubernatorial campaign is not included in the series.
The White House File contains papers from Safire's work in the Nixon administration, 1968-1973, including drafts of speeches, reports, memoranda, and correspondence. Documents regarding Nixon's major speeches and statements on the war in Vietnam and the economy are included in the White House File, as are many more documents for other speeches and statements, all filed alphabetically by subject. Safire also planned and arranged media events for the White House, which is also documented in the series. The press conference briefing books are also worth consulting. They span the years from 1969 to 1973 and are usually a collection of questions and responses prepared under the supervision of Patrick Buchanan. Of special interest, the press conference briefing books contain Nixon’s marginalia recording his revisions to responses. Narrative accounts summarizing and evaluating news stories and commentary carried by major newspapers, news magazines and opinion journals, television, radio, and wire services organized under the direction of Patrick Buchanan are also worth consulting and appear in the series. These press reports were circulated around the White House and sometimes include comments by administration officials. Arthur F. Burns, Charles W. Colson, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, Henry Kissinger, Daniel P. Moynihan, William P. Rogers, and George P. Shultz also appear in various files in the White House File. Officials often consulted Safire on issues and sometimes he was left to serve as a buffer between parties when disagreements occurred.
One of the more intriguing items in the series is the “Nixon Diary” maintained by Safire which details aspects of the character, emotions, motivation, or even the physical appearance and dress of various individuals or the scene of events. They are scattered throughout the series organized according to the various subjects to which they pertain, though a grouping of them can be found in the Office File subseries found in the White House File.
Finally, researchers will find materials of interest related to Safire’s book, Before the Fall, written during 1973-1974 and published in 1975. Included are early drafts of the book as well as the “Nixon Diary” along with other notes, pertinent White House documents, memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, speeches, press releases, conference transcripts and photographs. As mentioned in the finding aid, “Safire's memoir is a useful companion to the White House File series because his narrative provides context and continuity concerning the creation and use of the material among his papers.”
Journalist Daniel Schorr enjoyed several moments of notoriety during his career. “I think he’s unique in the sense that he’s been at the center of so many different stories, both here and in Washington and overseas,” Daniel Broder once noted.23 Yet, many people point to the moment in September of 1971 when having discovered the Nixon administration’s “enemies list” and reading it aloud on television, Schorr came to his own name at #17. Though he went on to win three Emmy awards (in 1972, 1973, and 1974) for his television news coverage, as he told reporters in 2009, “I consider my presence on the enemies list a greater tribute then the Emmys list.”24
“In 1971 CBS White House correspondent Daniel Schorr was not a muckraker. He wasn’t even an investigative journalist,” notes historian Katherine A. Scott. A “nonpartisan offender,” who turned the “same critical eye” on Democrats and Republicans, his inclusion on the list made “little sense.”25 Still, as Senate historian Donald Ritchie once pointed out, Schorr exuded a natural skepticism that often leaned toward the contrary: “Schorr was always a person to challenge what the government was saying …”26
Schorr had spent twenty years as a foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and New York Times before joining the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1953 after catching the attention of Edward R. Murrow. In 1966, CBS assigned Schorr to the Washington D.C. Bureau where he remained until 1976 when he left the network following a controversy regarding his coverage of the Pike Committee.
The Daniel Schorr Papers contain a wealth of material related to Watergate. The Broadcast and Film Series is the “centerpiece” of the collection and features an array of sources pertaining to the political scandal including correspondence, interviews, and memoranda. The Watergate Affair and White House files in the series are perhaps the best place for researchers to begin, though correspondence in the CBS file may also be of interest. The Subject File series, comprised of correspondence, legal documents, news clippings, reports, and printed material, includes folders on Patrick Buchanan, Charles Colson, Gerald Ford, E. Howard Hunt, Henry Kissinger, G. Gordon Liddy, John Mitchell, Wright Patman, and Richard Nixon as well as two dozen folders of material under the grouping, the Watergate Affair. The Speeches series, notably during the period from 1970 to 1974 may also provide further possibilities as does the Writings series, most notably files pertaining to his memoir, Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism (2001).
Although Eric Sevareid’s early career was spent as a Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio correspondent in Europe working with Edward R. Murrow covering World War II, he was an early pioneer in television broadcasting as one of the first to offer editorial commentary for that genre. To the American public, he was probably “remembered best for his impassioned oratory during the Vietnam and Watergate eras . . . .”27 Although Sevareid was critical of Richard M. Nixon during the Watergate Affair, he was never assailed by the Nixon White House. The reason cited by one Nixon assistant was “because the broadcaster 'looked and dressed exactly like God.'”
The largest amount of Watergate material in the Eric Sevareid Papers is located in the series Part II: Scripts. This series contains Sevareid's commentaries for the CBS Evening News and scripts from various news specials ("CBS Reports"), including a special on Watergate in 1975. The scripts, arranged chronologically by year, have specific folders for the years from 1972 to 1975 referencing Nixon and his resignation, Watergate, impeachment, Nixon’s pardon, and election specials. Researchers should also review the folders entitled “CBS Television Network news analyses” for 1973 and 1974; these files include Sevareid’s comments about the scandal as it evolved. The “Broadcasts” folders in the Part II: Fan Mail series for 1973 to 1974 are worth reviewing to get the public’s reactions to Sevareid’s comments about Nixon and Watergate.
For those also interested in Nixon’s career prior to Watergate, other files with specific reference to him are located in Part II: Scripts for the years 1964 (guest on a town hall meeting of the world) and 1970 (interview with Nixon). The Part I: Scripts contains a 1962 folder relating to Nixon’s campaign for governor of California. The 2018 Addition also includes a folder relating to Nixon. Those wishing to delve even further into the Sevareid Papers may want to review the Part I: Personal Correspondence and the Part II: Correspondence for the years pertinent to Nixon’s presidency.
As a reporter for the New York Times, Neil Sheehan obtained copies of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 from Daniel Ellsberg. He gained national attention by writing a series of articles using these classified documents about the forty-seven volume "History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Vietnam Policy, 1945-1967" compiled at the Pentagon upon the request of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Sheehan earned further acclaim when he won a Pulitzer Prize (1989) and a National Book Award (1988) for his book A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. The book is about Vann, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, who was killed while serving as an adviser in Vietnam and America’s involvement in the war. Although the majority of the Sheehan Papers focuses on the Vietnam War, the collection does have files relating to the Watergate Affair.
The Vann-Sheehan Vietnam War Collection: Research File series features the most material with files in the following subseries: John Paul Vann, Individuals, and Subject File. The John Paul Vann subseries includes a folder of correspondence relating to Nixon (box 29) and a subject file on Watergate (box 57). The Individuals subseries contains two folders of relevant material with a Watergate folder listed under Daniel Ellsberg’s name (box 66) and several folders pertaining to Richard M. Nixon, including one for Watergate (box 72). Additional files about Nixon’s impeachment proceedings (box 106) and Watergate (107) are located in the Subject File subseries of the Vann-Sheehan Vietnam War Collection: Research File.
Additional material may be found in the Professional File: New York Times of the Sheehan Papers, particularly the papers relating to his brief stint as White House correspondent. There are several files relating to Nixon, especially his 1969 trip to California (boxes 217-218), the 1972 presidential election campaign (boxes 219-220), and presidential libraries, including one about the Richard M. Nixon Foundation (box 220).
Martha Roundtree and Lawrence Spivak first established Meet the Press, in 1945 as a radio program on the Mutual Broadcasting System in part as a means to promote their publication, the American Mercury. The program split from the magazine and soon after emerged as a television show in 1947 bouncing around between broadcasting systems until settling in at the National Broadcast Corporation in 1955. Spivak served as a regular producer and panelist for the next two decades.
The bulk of the Lawrence E. Spivak Papers is contained in the “Meet the Press” File series. The three largest subseries within the series – Audience Mail, General Correspondence, and Program Transcripts and Related Material serve as the best point of entry for researchers especially for the years pertaining to the Watergate Affair from June 1972 through 1975.
Program Transcripts and Related Material records the opinions of American and foreign figures who appeared on the radio shows from 1945 to 1950 and the television shows from 1949 to 1983. General Correspondence documents incoming and outgoing letters with prospective and past interviewees; memoranda on people, their conversations with Spivak, and his assessment of their interview potential; correspondence with the National Broadcasting Company; office memoranda; and Spivak's correspondence with associates, including after his retirement in 1975. Audience Mail contains the viewers' opinions of the panels, guests, questions, and sometimes of Spivak. For researchers interested in the proverbial citizen on the street perspective, the Audience Mail subseries often provides valuable insights in this regard.
Known for her “blunt questions and sharp tone,” journalist Helen Thomas covered every presidential administration as a White House correspondent from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.28 “The unofficial but undisputed head of the press corps,” observed one journalist following her death in 2013. Thomas also became the first woman admitted to the Grid Iron Club as well as the first woman to serve as president of the White House Correspondents Association, both in the same year, 1975. Thomas was also the only female journalist to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his trip to China in 1972.29
Perhaps even more importantly in regard to Watergate, she also served as “a late night confidante of Martha Mitchell,” wife of Nixon’s lawyer and Attorney General John Mitchell. Martha Mitchell proved to be a key actor in the fallout that followed the Watergate break-in, particularly when she confided in Thomas details of events.30 "That's it. I've given John an ultimatum," she told Thomas. "I'm going to leave him unless he gets out of the campaign. I'm sick and tired of politics. Politics is dirty business."31 The Nixon administration went to great lengths to discredit Mitchell including coercively sedating her on one occasion, ripping “her telephone from the wall " during the same conversation with Thomas, while spreading rumors about her drinking habits, notes historian Keith W. Olson.32 As one obituary noted, “volatile or not, she was right.” Thomas later said of Mitchell who died in 1976, she was “one of the victims and perhaps the only heroine, of the Watergate tidal wave.”33
The Helen Thomas Papers provide historians with several possible avenues of research. The White House Press Corp series contains over twenty folders under the grouping Richard Nixon administration in the series. The grouping contains folders with a book outline as well as other writings by Thomas regarding Mitchell. Further, a separate grouping under the Gerald Ford administration provides additional materials for review. Communications between Mitchell and Thomas can be found in the Correspondence series, though much of it consists of letters sent to Mitchell, care of Thomas. Correspondence between Thomas and Gerald Ford is also located in the series. Finally, the Personal File series comprise photographs, clippings, identification documents, and writings pertaining to Watergate through folders related to Mitchell and Richard Nixon.
The Washington Post Historical Collection is a compilation of files from various departments and staff members of the Washington Post in preparation for the newspaper’s move to a new building in 2015. Since the Post received a Pulitzer Prize for public service for its reporting about Watergate, it is not surprising there is material pertaining to the topic in several series of the collection.
The most substantive files are located in the Staff Files series under the heading “Lardner, George and Walter Pincus.” Larder and Pincus were reporters who accumulated material about the subject “Nixon, Richard M.; Watergate affair” and used the research files mainly for articles that they wrote in the 1990s. Their files include drafts, planning documents, interviews, notes, and many research files that draw largely from documents photocopied at the National Archives and Records Administration and the Gerald R. Ford Library. The files are further arranged according to subject, with annotations by Pincus, Lardner, and other individuals working on the projects.
Watergate related topics are also located in the Library News and Research Center Files. This series includes two folders titled "From Watergate to Lewinsky: Unnamed Sources in the Washington Post, 1970-2000” and “Presidents, impeachment.” In the staff and executive name files of this series are folders for Carl Bernstein and Benjamin C. Bradlee. The Public Relations Files series contains a folder about the revelation of Mark Felt as Deep Throat. Researchers may want to consult the Post’s anniversary files (100th and 125th ) which are also located in the Public Relations Files.