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SpecialDick Cavett: Dick Cavett’s Watergate

From 1972 to 1974, the Watergate scandal was frequently a part of “The Dick Cavett Show.” In fact, Cavett was at the forefront of national TV coverage, interviewing nearly every major Watergate figure as the crisis unfolded. With exclusive access to the archive of the show, DICK CAVETT’S WATERGATE documents the scandal in the words of the people who lived it: from the botched burglary at the Democratic National Headquarters; to the must-see TV of the daily Congressional Watergate hearings; to the ongoing behind-the-scenes battle between the White House and “The Dick Cavett Show,” culminating with the resignation of President Nixon on August 9, 1974. DICK CAVETT’S WATERGATE offers a unique opportunity to mark the 40th anniversary of a defining moment in American history.

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RICHARD NIXON: Good evening…
CARL BERNSTEIN: What Watergate is about is a criminal presidency.

RECORDING: Five men were arrested while trying to install eavesdropping equipment at the Democratic National Committee.

DICK CAVETT: Now the White House burglars were called plumbers, you know, because their job was to plug leaks and information but how did they go about plugging leaks? They opened a Watergate.


DICK CAVETT: Think about that and try to find some humor in it (chuckles)

DICK CAVETT: I'd like to say something about what's been called the Watergate Caper.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: With the exception of Dick Cavett's few interviews, television hasn't noticed the story.

RICHARD NIXON: I have no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in.

BOB WOODWARD: It was a lust for political power.

JOHN W. DEAN: It's kinda like watching a train wreck.
DICK CAVETT: I would like to make it clear right now that I had no knowledge, whatever, of the Watergate cover-up.

DICK CAVETT: I started out to do an entertaining talk show, never dreaming that I would get up to my neck in a national scandal.

NEWS SEGMENT: This is a police photograph of James W. McCord. He is one of five persons arrested yesterday inside the headquarters of the democratic national committee in Washington. McCord is a former CIA employee. Now he runs his own private security service and guess what else he is, a consultant to President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign committee. Police say McCord and his accomplices brought electronic listening devices with them to bug the democrats' office. Today, former Attorney General John Mitchell, the chairman of President Nixon's reelection committee denied any connection with the incident. McCord and his accomplices, meanwhile, have been charged with second degree of burglary and released on bail but I don't think that's the last we're gonna hear of this story.

ANNOUNCER: The Dick Cavett Show! Tonight, Dick's special guest is Senator Edward Kennedy.

DICK CAVETT: I saw the New York Times, burglary in Washington, the what, what offices? It had the appeal of a John LeCarre novel and that intrigued me. Within two days of the initial break-in, there I was talking to Ted Kennedy about it on the show.

DICK CAVETT: Senator Kennedy, there's a thing today that I'd love to get your reaction to. Uh, it’s just preposterous. They talk about it as the James Bond plot that took place in Washington the night where they found these people sneaking in with eavesdropping devices and one of them was a CIA man. What diabolical information and secret could there be in there, uh, that they would have to go to all that risk and effort to get?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: In the Democratic National Committee?

DICK CAVETT: Yeah, yeah.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: This is enormously, uh, a desperate kind of an attempt by the, uh, this fellow was the head of security for the committee to reelect the president and, uh...


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: ...and I don't, I don't know really what to....

DICK CAVETT: You think Attorney General Mitchell knew about these men the other night?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: Well, I, I don't know. Um, I would hope that, uh, we'd get a, you know, investigation of it by the justice department or by the, uh, by the FBI so we'd have, uh, some kind of idea. I mean, I think the installation of, uh, of, uh, surveillance materials, wire tapping is, is frightening in our, in our, uh, country and, uh, I think particularly it corrupts the political process.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) The next day, news broke that the name and phone number of a member of the White House staff was found in the address book of one of the Watergate burglars. The administration immediately came under fire from the press and the cover-up was under way.

REPORTER: Now you're telling me that not only the president but everybody in the White House views this thing as a third rate burglary attempt and is not making any more inquiries into it?

RON ZIEGLER: Now, you're really stretching the point here. I think...

REPORTER: Well, it seems to me that's what you've been telling us, Ron. It's a little bit hard to believe.

RON ZIEGLER: My remark yesterday regarding a third rate burglary attempt related to the fact that I wasn't gonna comment every time someone tries to break in somewhere and I'm gonna reject every attempt in questioning to inject this matter into the White House.

REPORTER: I'm still a little confused, Ron.

RON ZIEGLER: Well, then you'll have to continue to be confused because I'm finished with any comment on the subject.

FACILITATOR: Shall we start?


FACILITATOR: Mr. O'Brien has said that the people who bugged his headquarters had a direct link to the White House.

RICHARD NIXON: Well, Mr. Ziegler and Mr. Mitchell, speaking for the campaign committee, responded to questions to this on great detail. They have stated my position and have also stated the facts the White House has had no involvement whatever in this particular incident.

DICK CAVETT: I'd like to say something about the, uh, what's been called the Watergate Caper. Now, um, you know a lot about politics obviously. What about the, uh, what could, what wonderful secrets could there have been?

SEN. BARRY COLDWATER: Oh, I think we were trying to find out how they can afford to have a headquarters in the Watergate.


DICK CAVETT: Well that...

SEN. BARRY COLDWATER: That's the most expensive place in town. And no...

DICK CAVETT: That would seem to justify this whole...

SEN. BARRY COLDWATER: This, there's nothing new about this and frankly, what can be gained, nothing. We know every caper they can pull, they know everything we can pull. It's been done and done and done. And for the life of me, I can't understand the necessity of going to the expense of bugging, if that's what we did, I really don’t know.

DICK CAVETT: Who's we now?

SEN. BARRY COLDWATER: The republican party.

DICK CAVETT: Oh, okay.

SEN. BARRY COLDWATER: I think if, myself, if I were in a position of responsibility and knew that to be true, I'd admit it.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) A person of interest to the FBI and the grand jury investigating the burglary was a character named G. Gordon Liddy.

DICK CAVETT: Just in case any, anybody's, um, memory needs refreshing, uh, further, you, you, you were in the man in charge of the, um, elaborate, I guess you can call them sabotage plans of, uh, against the democrats and the actual Watergate break in.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: G. Gordon Liddy is the center of bad action. He is hired by John Mitchell, former Attorney General now head of the committee to reelect the president to set up a, an espionage capability for the reelection committee.
CARL BERNSTEIN: The hell with the law, the hell with decency, uh, the hell with the, the real political process, the hell with the constitution of the United States and that was and is Gordon Liddy.
DICK CAVETT: Why was it all necessary?

G. GORDON LIDDY: Uh, the plan was made to put electronic surveillance capability into the DNC headquarters early. Why, because we knew that whoever emerged as the candidate would leave the little hole in the wall candidate headquarters, move into the DNC's vast array of beautiful offices and when they did so, of course, would be surrounded by the Secret Service, it would be almost too late to do it then. So the idea was put it in early and then no matter who ends up, including Tedding Kennedy in there, we've got the electronic surveillance capability, that's the why.


JOHN W. DEAN: Gordon kind of thought he was a, uh, a James Bond kind of figure/ Uh, he actually wasn't quite up to the Maxwell Smart level as, uh, as it happened.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Actually, it was a third rate burglary. (chuckles) It's a third rate burglary that was ordered by the president's lieutenants but it's a third rate burglary. I mean, c'mon, first rate burglaries do not involve leaving evidence that, that actually takes you from the crime scene to the White House.

BOB WOODWARD: I remember at the beginning there was a sense of the mastermind of all of this is Gordon Liddy. Well, history now has established that the mastermind was Richard Nixon.
DICK CAVETT: When Attorney General Mitchell left the Justice Department, uh, to run the, uh, campaign to reelect the president, uh, my next guest became the acting Attorney General and it took some time for him to get confirmed as a member because of what was called a juicy scandal arose over certain anti-trust legislation. Then there's what's called the Watergate scandal, uh, another juicy item according to the press but, uh, Mr. Nixon is way ahead in the polls at this point and it seems that very little rocks the boat and well, you're all aware of the current situation. My next guest obviously then is the Attorney General of the United States. Will you welcome him, Richard Kleindientz.


DICK CAVETT: Who do you think gave the orders to bug the Watergate?

RICHARD KLEINDIENTZ: Well, I think that the persons who the grand jury indicted in Washington DC last week gave the orders to do it and I think one of the most interesting things about that, after having one of the most, uh, complete, comprehensive, intense investigations that the FBI's ever had and one of the most thorough presentations before a grand jury, uh, they came up with seven persons who they indicted, you know, and I, I think that those are the persons who gave the orders to do that.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Ah, Kleindientz was a second tier liar.
JOHN W. DEAN: Kleindientz, of course, knew that, uh, that was not the end of the story, that it was, uh, the seven men involved. The reason he knew that was because Gordon Liddy, two days after the arrests at the Watergate, found Kleindientz, says these are my men and lays the whole story on him.
DICK CAVETT: An Attorney General, of all people, is gonna come on television and claim he didn't know about certain things that we later learned he did but, uh, the White House had a way of pickin' them, didn't day?

DICK CAVETT: Since so much has been made of this though, and, and it's been called a scandal and corrupt and all that, that, uh, any administration would be anxious to have it all..

RICHARD KLEINDIENTZ: Well, I'd like to make a footnote there. What, any time anybody illegally wire taps or bugs somebody else, that's a bad thing, you know? It's a violation of law and they should be prosecuted. Uh, and I'm very sorry that it happened. Uh, the president ordered, uh, the most complete investigation that the Department of Justice ever had and he said, let the chips fall where they will. It's corrupt so far as the event is concerned but I think the integrity of, of the, the enforcement of the law, uh, has been maintained throughout in this matter.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Kleindientz was, was the effective point man through which the investigation could be tamped down.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: He's trotted out to tell everyone the system works, everybody guilty has been indicted, the grand jury did its job, the FBI did its job and now let's just get on with the election and stop this nonsense about there having been a political espionage campaign against the democrats.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) Nowadays, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein are legendary but in 1972, they were just a pair of young reporters working in a small, local store.

DICK CAVETT: Which one of you is Carl Bernstein?


DICK CAVETT: Okay. And you must be...

BOB WOODWARD: Bob Woodward.

DICK CAVETT: Bob Woodward. Uh, what now was the, you know, I've lost track of where this all started, I think maybe a lot of people have. Can you remember the first moment when you knew there was something?

BOB WOODWARD: Uh, a call at 8:30 in the morning on Saturday, June 17th, by my boss saying five men have been arrested in the Watergate, the Democrats' headquarters, with sophisticated photographic and electronic equipment. He said, uh, start to work on it.

DICK CAVETT: And did you have any idea at that moment that, uh, there was gonna be a Niagara of things coming out eventually?

CARL BERNSTEIN: I think not immediately afterwards but within a week or two I, I think we had a pretty good idea that this was gonna go somewhere and it was not gonna be limited to the five people that were arrested inside on June 17th.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Early on, many of our colleagues in the press including some at the Washington Post did not believe the stories we were writing. We were 28, 29 years old, we weren't national reporters, we didn't have high level sources way up in the Nixon administration and we were being attacked every day for using hear say and innuendo, uh, and, and the White House very successfully was making our conduct at the Washington Post, they tried to make the issue in Watergate, not the conduct of the president and his men. And then we wrote the story that finally made sense out of what was Watergate.

BOB WOODWARD: We had just written a story that day, it was in September, saying that Mr. Mitchell, while he was Attorney General, controlled, uh, some secret funds that indeed had financed, uh, undercover activities including Watergate and we got another denial from the committee for the reelection for the president which wasn't really a denial and we found it wasn't satisfactory and we had told it had been authorized by mis-, Mr. Mitchell so we decided we would call him and I called him in New York and got him about ten o'clock that night, read him what the top of the story said that he had controlled these funds and he said, "all that crap, you're gonna put it in the paper, it's all been denied." At which point he said, "If you put that in the paper, uh, we're gonna put your publisher" and then referred to a particular part of her anatomy "through the wringer" and said that when all this is over, we're gonna do a little story on all of ya.

CARL BERNSTEIN: And then he proceeded to, uh, get some of his public relations spokesmen to, to call us and say, maybe you shouldn't have, you shouldn't put John Mitchell's statements in the paper, you had awakened him in the middle of the night when you called him and, and then they called Ben Bradley, the executive editor, at home, I guess it was about 1:00 A.M. and asked him to keep it out of the paper. Uh, he said no.

CARL BERNSTEIN: We wrote saying Watergate, the break-in and bugging were part of a massive campaign of political espionage and sabotage directed from the White House against the president's political opposition.

BOB WOODWARD: It was a lust for political power and, in the case of Nixon in '72, it was a sense of entitlement, a sense that we have a right to the presidency and, uh, we're gonna do anything to retain it.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Woodward and Bernstein, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, had been working their stories, working the phones, using a lot of shoe leather and they've kept alive the local story about this break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters. This story hasn't taken off and it hasn't taken off because of television. Television, with the exception of, of Mr. Cavett's few interviews, television hasn't noticed the story.

DICK CAVETT: Do you have any raps that you'd give the coverage that it's gotten? Any, uh...

BOB WOODWARD: I think during the initial phase, the television coverage was, was pretty poor. CBS in the last two weeks of the campaign, I think, did a great service by airing the issue on two long segments on the Cronkite show...

CARL BERNSTEIN: And very courageously, in fact.

BOB WOODWARD: Right, because under pressure from the White House not to go with it.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Cronkite decided that he would do his broadcast about what we were writing in the paper essentially, uh, and what Watergate was and what should be known to the people of America by that juncture.
DICK CAVETT: He has been called many things, among them Uncle Walter, uh, the most trusted man in America. Uh, someone said people don't believe a thing is true until they hear it from Walter Cronkite.

WALTER CRONKITE: We did on CBS Evening News, uh, do something that I'm proud to say, uh -- well, I'm sorry for the industry but I'm proud for us that no one else did, uh, we put it all together in three long pieces on the evening news, the longest pieces we'd ever used up to that time, uh, in trying to pull this story together, make some sense out of it because it was dribbled out, of course, but revelation after revelation and I determined that we should do that because I found that many of these stories weren’t getting repeated around the country, that local papers weren't picking up the stories, either for political reasons or whatever, journalistic judgment again, very possibly, but at least they weren't picking them up. And, uh, I thought it was important that they be pulled together and that the whole thing be put in as much focus as we could do it.

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.

BOB WOODWARD: It was, uh, a big boost for those of us, uh, at the Post and in the newsroom that he would do something like that.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Woodward and Bernstein had raised really good questions and people were beginning to scratch their heads but the objective of the cover-up was to hold the line so that nobody higher up would be indicted. To that point, only the burglars and Liddy had been indicted so the cover-up is working.

JOHN W. DEAN: The internal poll that Nixon-Getty is showing as well as the gallop in, uh, (public?) polls that it's not registering at all, that it just doesn't play, outside of Washington, it's a non-story.

CAMPAIGN COMMERCIAL: He has overhauled the draft laws and made them fair for everyone, black and white, rich and poor. He certified an amendment giving 18 year olds the right to vote, he has created an economy that is growing faster than at any time in years. For four years, President Nixon has responded to the needs of the people, that's why we need president Nixon, now more than ever.

DICK CAVETT: I had almost forgotten, even with the break-in having happened, they were predicting that Nixon would win by a landslide and he did.

CROWD: (cheering repeatedly) Four more years!

RICHARD NIXON: This for me is rather unusual. I've never known a national election when I would be able to go to bed earlier than tonight.

CROWD: (laughs)

BOB WOODWARD: Watergate wasn’t an issue in the '72 election. They denied it, they were able to bury it, we didn't have proof, we didn't have video, we didn't have tapes, we didn't have documents and I think to, uh, the average person in America, was inconceivable that the president, a president clearly as smart as Richard Nixon would be involved in things like this.

JOHN EHRLICHMAN: You know, he won the' 72 election by the greatest plurality of any president of the United States.

That's right.

JOHN EHRLICHMAN: And he's the product of this strange selection process that we have in this country in picking presidents. We penalize people who have normal emotions and normal reactions to situations and we wed them out. Musky, you know, in New Hampshire, goes up and cried because his wife's been attacked and, and we say, you know, that guy is not the sort of fellow that can survive and so folks like that, we get rid of and, uh, we end up with sort of single dimensions, single purpose, uh, carefully bred and genetically selected, uh, creatures.

JOHN W. DEAN: I couldn't figure out how Richard Nixon, as savvy a Politian and highly intelligent person could get himself into the problems he got into. Uh, there is no simple answer, you literally have to watch it. It's just, uh, it, it's kinda like watching a train wreck, if you will, uh, to see how he makes one bad decision on top of another bad decision.

DR. HENRY KISSINGER: Nixon had the quality that he thought of himself as acting best in crisis and there was a lot in there but it reached the point where I sometimes had the impression that he invited crisis and that he couldn't stand normalcy.

BOB WOODWARD: You know, the, the psychological portrait of Richard Nixon that, uh, comes from all of this is, uh, very complicated, let's put it that way.

DICK CAVETT: Are you friendly with the president, President Nixon, uh?

STEWART ALSOP: No. I don't think, uh, Nixon has a friend.


STEWART ALSOP: I've known him for a long time. Uh, I've interviewed him many times, in one of which, at the very end of the interview, I asked him, "Mr. Nixon, can you ever relax with anyone" and he said it was rather pathetic to me, he said, "No, I never can. I can never really let, uh, let my hair down with anybody." And then I said, "not even with Pat," and he said, "No, not even with Pat." In a curious way that exchange comes back to me today. Here is a man who's totally isolated. He's, uh, he's separated from the realities which confront him.

DR. HENRY KISSINGER: One has to understand the human problem of a man who had spent all of his life trying to become president, whose personality really did not lend itself to politics. He did not like to meet new people, he didn’t like to give direct orders, he didn't like face to face confrontations, all the things you have to do as president. He made himself do all these things and just when he had achieved for the first time tremendous, uh, electoral victory, everything collapsed on him.

BOB WOODWARD: There was appall in the White House after the election. Rather than a sense of celebration and victory, there was a sense of, oh my god, what's coming?

WOMAN IN GLASSES: Many more things are bothering America than Watergate.
MAN HOLDING BABY: I think they made a big fuss over nothing.

MAN IN GLASSES: I don't think that, that he's answered enough o the questions that, that need to be answered about his connection with Watergate.

MAN IN BLUE JACKET: Nothing has been proven or illegal about what he's done and I think he's, he's on the right track.

OLDER BLACK WOMAN: I still have faith in the country but I do not have too much faith in the men that we've chosen.

RICHARD NIXON: Good evening. I want to talk to you tonight from my heart on a subject of deep concern to every American. In recent months, members of my administration and officials of the committee for the reelection of the president, including some of my closest friends and most trusted aids, have been charged with involvement in what has come to be known as the Watergate Affair. These include charges of illegal activity during and proceeding the 1972 presidential election and charges that responsible officials participated in efforts to cover up that illegal activity. I want the American people, I want you to know before the shadow of a doubt, that during my term as president, justice will be pursued fairly, fully and impartially no matter who is involved.

GORE VIDAL: One of the sad things that has happened to the country is that the empty men and now, in the case, some of the empty bad men, uh, have taken over but I wouldn't live in any other time than now. I have to have my Watergate fix every single morning in the paper.

CROWD: (laughs)

GORE VIDAL: I, I get like this if I haven't got it.

DICK CAVETT: There, there are Watergate junkies all over the place, people who just, it's considered an important part of people's lives.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) Liddy and the burglars were convicted in late January, 1973. A week later, the Senate voted unanimously to establish a so-called select committee to further investigate the Watergate affair.
TIMOTHY NAFTALI: The Watergate hearings went on for days and days and days of coverage, hours of testimony by people you had never heard of before about complicated events that didn't seem to make sense and everybody was contradicting everybody else. Nevertheless, it was, um, house of cards on steroids.

BALDING MAN IN GLASSES: Here's what appears to be this great big thing, a burglary, a cover-up, horrors all going on and witness after witness goes over the exquisite details.

DARK HAIRED MAN: I regret that I must today name others who predicated with me in the Watergate affair.

MAN IN GOLD JACKET: Mr. Mitchell is here before the committee pursuant to a lawful subpoena of the committee compelling to come here and testify.

BALDING MAN: Now wait, we had no discussions whatsoever with respect to an approval of the Liddy plan of a quarter of a million dollars and Mr. Stanz has testified that he never heard about it.

MAN IN GLASSES: You're saying Mr. Mitchell signed off on it, you mean physically initialed it or testimony?

MAN IN GRAY JACKET: No, I mean, said will give Mr. Liddy the $250,000.

MAN IN GLASSES: And he identified the targets, does that include the democratic national committee headquarters at Watergate?

MAN IN GRAY JACKET: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

MAN IN BLACK JACKET: There have been really stupendous developments when you consider them in the context of ongoing presidential campaign and you meet with the president at 10:30 in the morning three days later. Now, tell me what you discussed with the president about the Watergate.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: We should be, uh, forever grateful to the Senate Watergate Committee, its members, both on the left and the right, for asking the questions that led to much more information coming into the public domain about the abuse of governmental power.

DICK CAVETT: I went into work one day and my producer said, "you wanna do a Watergate show from the hearing room?" and I said, "you can't do that." We did, it made lots of news and afterwards, there was the inevitable complaints, perhaps some engineered from Pennsylvania Avenue, "why was Cavett allowed with a silly little talk show to be in the hearing rooms in the presence of all this greatness?" The reaction was enormous. It was also enormously gratifying.

DICK CAVETT: Hello, I'm Dick Cavett and, uh, I can't believe where I am at this moment, maybe you can't either but, uh, I'm in the Senate Caucus room and probably today you are watching, uh, what took place in this room. These are press tables. First thing you notice when you come in here is the room is smaller than you thought it was. I thought that the gallery was in a balcony and they're not, they're on the same level as the floor. The second thing you notice is that the place is dirty.

CROWD: (laughs)

DICK CAVETT: Um, there's enough liter on the floor to, uh, fill a garbage scout at the end of the day but I asked them to leave it that way so that it would, uh, so that you can see maybe what it actually looks like at the end of the day. I think I'll just sit down here for a moment. Um, I'm seated now in what I guess has been called the hottest chair in the country. Uh, the previous occupants have squirmed through two seat covers on this chair, in fact, worn them out but it's, um, no one has asked me but I would like to make it clear right now that I had no knowledge whatever of the Watergate cover-up. Um, in fact, I still don't have as much knowledge as I'd like to.

DICK CAVETT: Uh, Senator Baker, um, by the way, when I was sitting in that witness chair, I felt guilty, it's a very strange feeling.

SEN. BAKER: You might be the first one.

DICK CAVETT: (laughs)

CROWD: (laughs) (applauds)

DICK CAVETT: Let me ask you gentlemen something, have any of you smarted from the criticisms of the, uh, lawyers that have been saying, uh, the questioning has been a little toothless, flabby and inept? Does anyone wanna grab that, or me?

SEN. LOWELL P. WEICKER: Well, I don't think we're conducting a trial. I think that, I think that's...

DICK CAVETT: That's the thing that should be said.

SEN. LOWELL P. WEICKER: And I think that, um, uh, there are, there are those lawyers that have appeared before us who would like to give it the, um, uh, the rules or the atmosphere of a trial but our, our job is to go ahead and just get out the broad story and I'd go ahead and, uh, concentrate on the guilt or innocence of anybody and that, I might add, includes the president of the United States.

DICK CAVETT: You, you say you won't state an opinion but do you find it impossible not to form one?

SEN. DANIEL K. INOUYE: I think it matters very little what, uh, I think about the witnesses here. Even if this is not a prosecution and, and this is Senate investigation, there are millions of people who are now making judgments and that's the judgment that counts.


SEN. DANIEL K. INOUYE: That's the judgment that is now affecting the stock market, the value of the dollar, the price of gold and that's how deep it is.

DICK CAVETT: Senator, tell me, Jim, I don't know why I picked you for this but, uh, Martha Mitchell is going to say on an interview that's on film on my show at some point this week, that they ought to shut this whole mess up, these hearings, and she's also going to say that they are rehearsed like any Broadway play.

SEN. JIM: Mrs. Mitchell, of course, has a right to her opinion as to whether these hearings ought to be discontinued. That's widely debated in this country at the present time. I've received thousands and thousands of letters that they ought to be discontinued. On the contrary, I've received thousands and thousands of letters that think otherwise, that the American people have a right to know and act as a jury as to what happened in these particular cases and that's our role in this particular matter. Now, I do think personally that it's in the national interest, it's in the interest of the president of the United States as a n individual and the office itself to conclude these hearings at the earliest possible date, particularly the president's involvement in it.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) During that summer of 1973, the Watergate hearings gave everyone but the dead a reason to bounce out of bed every morning and just feverishly devour the latest developments.
SAM IRVIN: I'm just (lawyer?) from way down in North Carolina. I probably could make him cry, I'm a little bit more bigger than some of these high pollutin' city lawyers do.

DICK CAVETT: The thing about Sam Irvin was that he presented himself, hmm, almost as a slightly maybe rustic, none too sharp, um, southern character.

SEN. HOWARD BAKER: The chairman is fond of pointing out from time to time that he is just a country lawyer. He omits to say that he graduated from Harvard Law School with honors.

CROWD: (laughs)

SAM IRWIN: If the Senator from Tennessee would yield, I'd like to say a word on my defense.


BOB WOODWARD: Of course he wasn't a country lawyer, no one knew that better than he and when his moment in the sun came, he did what had to be done in a very aggressive but ultimately fair-minded way.

SAM IRVIN: Is that, uh, United States code 25.11?

Yes, sir.

SAM IRVIN: Now, this statute has nothing to do with burglary.

How do you know that, Mr. Chairman?

SAM IRVIN: Because I can understand the English language just like my mother taught me.

CROWD: (laughs)

DICK CAVETT: He had everything it takes. He was folksy, he seemed real, honest and entertaining and thoroughly intelligent and so I got to spend half an hour in his office with him and it was wonderful.

DICK CAVETT: We always hear that Watergate is the worst scandal -- well, first we heard that it might become the worst scandal in American political history and then we heard that it was becoming that and then that it did and now that people say it definitely is. Is this the worst scandal in political memory?

SAM IRVIN: Oh, I think, I think undoubtedly so. Yeah, it's a terrible thing to make a, make an assault as, as was done in this case. Only the integrity of this process by which, uh, uh, presidents are nominated and elected.

DICK CAVETT: Where did you see the constitution threatened the most in the Watergate?

SAM IRVIN: That was, uh, a climate in the White House, among White House aides and also in the committee to reelect the president that, uh, that indicated a total, uh, misunderstanding of the constitution. There was a feeling there that the president was above, uh, the constitution.

DICK CAVETT: Were you discouraged by the attitude, why should you make trouble for people in high places? That was the general attitude on a lot of people's part about Watergate and has been all along, don't press this, it leads too far and so on.

SAM IRVIN: Well yes, I've had a lot of (...?) conscientious and since there are people say if you, um, get close to the White House, you must, uh, suppress the testimony, you mustn't bring out anything, you know, that tends to show that, uh, the White House or the president was involved in any way, directly, indirectly in the Watergate. These people have asked themselves, they think that the constitution will collapse and that the president will be destroyed if the truth is, uh, revealed and that it comes very close to the White House.

DICK CAVETT: Why on earth should I believe anything that Haldeman says, that John Dean says, that John Mitchell might say? These are all men who lied when it was expedient, who today...

JOHN DEAN: I must correct you, I've never lied under oath on any time. Absolutely, I have never lied under, under any testimonial situation, at any time.

DICK CAVETT: Careful, you're under oath now. (chuckles)

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: If it weren't for the senate Watergate committee, John Dean might not have had the platform that changed this whole crisis.

JOHN DEAN: I began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed, the president himself would be killed by it.

BOB WOODWARD: Dean was a remarkable truth teller. He was part of the cover-up and got involved in it and is somebody, uh, who realized he was gonna take the fall, they were gonna blame him and so he came forward.

JOHN W. DEAN: I mean, Nixon thought I should lie for him, I should fall on the sword, I should, uh, go to jail in definitely, uh, so he can continue to be who he wants to be, uh, and I didn't see it that way.

JOHN W. DEAN: The meeting with the president that afternoon with Halbeman, (...?) and myself was a tremendous disappointment to me because it was quite clear that the cover-up as far as the White House was, was concerned was going to continue.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: John Dean, with his predacious memory, comes before the committee and gives a 100 page or so statement, which lays out what he knows about the evolution about the cover-up and suddenly the story had, it's cinematic now, it's, it's, it's got a narrative.

SPEAKER: The central question at this point is simply put, what did the president know and when did he know it?

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: It then becomes a president versus Dean.

REPORTER: At the heart of Dean's statement is an accusation that the president was warned of the dangers of a cover-up and that he was aware of a cover-up last September and didn't do anything about it. That amounts to an accusation that the president of the United States was a part to a crime.

SPEAKER: You're fully aware, Mr. Dean, of the gravity of the charges you have made under oath against the highest official of our land, the president of the United Striates?

JOHN W. DEAN: Yes, I am.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: Who is telling the truth? Ordinarily, most Americans, after all, the president had just been reelected by a huge margin, most Americans would say the president. Anyway, they didn't know who John Dean was. He was this young lawyer. Um, but then within weeks of John Dean's riveting testimony, there's another bombshell.

ALEXANDER PORTER-BUTTERFIELD: My name is Alexander Porter-Butterfield.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON: Mr. Butterfield, are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the president?

ALEXANDER PORTER-BUTTERFIELD: I was aware of listening devices, yes, sir.

FRED THOMPSON: You're aware of any devices that were installed in the executive office building office of the president?


FRED THOMPSON: What about the cabinet room?


FRED THOMPSON: On whose authority were they installed, Mr. Butterfield?

ALEXANDER PORTER-BUTTERFIELD: On the president's authority by way of Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Higby.

DICK CAVETT: I tried to catch every millisecond of the hearings but as the gods would have it, in my house out in the country, I went down to the beach for a break and when I got back, my wife said there was taping, Nixon made tapes of everything and I said, "I'm in no mood for a joke."

CARL BERNSTEIN: Listening to those tapes, you understand the criminality of this president and this presidency, uh, and it was a mindset, it was a sensibility. It's all about vengeance, it's all about his enemies, it's all about getting even, it's about break-ins, it's about getting information, it's about screwing the other side, that's what dominates the tapes. Uh, not just tapes about the Watergate break-in, but the tapes period.

JEB MAGRUDER: Uh, when it came to the enemies, whether they were in the press or whether they were in the politics, he treated them as a, as a, as a, uh, enemies, not as advocacies and I think Hubert Humphrey said..

DICK CAVETT: It wasted a lot of time.

JEB MAGRUDER: ...wasted, wasted a tremendous amount of time on going after people I think he felt were his enemies...

DICK CAVETT: By the way, did my name ever come up as an enemy in all your years knowing him?

JEB MAGRUDER: I, I don't think you were on the bad, I don't remember you on the bad list. (chuckles) Is that an insult? Should you have been on the enemy's list?

DICK CAVETT: How long do I have to decide?

JEB MAGRUDER: (chuckles)

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: (unintelligible) ...made a note to Colson. I noticed Mort Allen's comment to the effect that the Cavett Show was loaded 3 to 1 against us.

H.R. HALDEMAN: (subtitled) H.R. Haldeman: We have a running war going with Cavett. That's what Allen's referring to.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: I see, well....

H.R. HALDEMAN: (subtitled) H.R. Haldeman: It's a losing way.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: Is he just a left-winger? Is that his problem?

H.R. HALDEMAN: (subtitled) H.R. Haldeman: I guess so.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: Is he Jewish?

H.R. HALDEMAN: (subtitled) H.R. Haldeman: Don't know; doesn't look it.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: What the hell is Cavett?

CHARLES COLSON: (subtitled) Charles Colson: Oh Christ. He's, God, he's...

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: He's terrible?

CHARLES COLSON: (subtitled) Charles Colson: He's impossible. He loads ever program.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: Nothing you can do about that, is there?

CHARLES COLSON: (subtitled) Charles Colson: We've, we've complained bitterly about the Cavett Show.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: Well is there any way we could screw him? That's what I mean. There must be ways.

DICK CAVETT: That's from the chief executive of the United States, the most powerful man in the world. It gave me both a laugh and the chills simultaneously.

JOHN W. DEAN: Nixon is somebody who, who sort of cultivated enemies and Cavett was certainly not somebody who was a Nixon Supporter.

DICK CAVETT: Punishing people with the IRS was one of Nixon's, um, favorite illegal amusements. A member of my staff, a young woman, chances to say to another young woman, "you know, I had my taxes audited once" and the other one said, "so did I." When remarked on the odd coincidence of it, and a third and fourth case of the same thing came up and thus, did the Whither College Alum in the White House is attempting to screw Cavett by screwing my staff instead.

BOB WOODWARD: I mean, in a sense the presidency became an instrument of personal revenge.

DICK CAVETT: I did not know, last night I read a thing on the air about the tapes vanishing and the audience thought it was a sick joke.

Can't you hear it, the dialog in the White House? "Pat, now you know I put those tapes in that drawer."

AUDIENCE: (laughs)

And just, "Oh, Dick, you know, if your head wasn't screwed on, you know you'd lose everything." "But I just knew it was here somewhere." You know, I could just hear all this going on. And then, oh, I must say, then when they find out that the, that the tapes, that they are getting have, have been doctored, if they do find out, well, they'll be covered, you'll sort of hear, uh, "of course we could give him a million dollars but that would be wrong, take two", you know? It'd be sort of like that.

AUDIENCE: (laughs)

Well, if he gets caught in that, I must say, he just, every day he does something that interests, it's sort of like a rat going around, you keep trying to kill it and he gets away. It's just marvelous, he's a great hero.

BOB WOODWARD: The Nixon tapes are a tire iron wrapped around his neck and he'll never escape them because they're hundreds and hundreds of hours of him plotting or conceiving of, you know, let's do this, let's cover up this.

JOHN W. DEAN: I do know more about Watergate today than when I lived through it for a very simple reason. Uh, I have now listened to all of Richard Nixon's Watergate conversations. I was stunned to find that he was as deeply involved in the cover-up as he really was.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: ...get this Watergate thing on the way. That's fine. It's gonna be a nasty issue for a few days, but I can't believe that, uh, they can tie it to me. Everybody says we've got to protect this one and that one and the other one. The main thing we've got to protect is the Presidency. What, really, where this thing all lead. Mitchell, Colson, Haleman...

JOHN W. DEAN: (subtitled) John W. Dean: And I say Dean.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: You? Why?

JOHN W. DEAN: (subtitled) John W. Dean: Why? Because I've been all over this thing like a blanket.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: All the others that have participated in the Goddamn thing, and therefore potentially subjected to criminal liability. You're not. I think what you’ve got to do, to the extent that you can, John, is to cut it off at the pass.

JOHN W. DEAN: (subtitled) John W. Dean: We have a cancer, close to the Presidency, that's growing. There is the problem of the continued blackmail.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: How much money do you need?

JOHN W. DEAN: (subtitled) John W. Dean: I would say these people are gonna cost us a million dollars over the next two years.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: On the money, if you need the money. I mean, uh, you can get a million dollars. And you can get it in cash. I, I know where it can be gotten. There's all this crap about the President should resign, or impeach and so forth.

H.R. HALDEMAN: (subtitled) H.R. Haldeman: Don’t even listen.

PRESIDENT NIXON: (subtitled) President Nixon: 'Cause I can't do it! Let me put it this way. I don't care what comes up. I don't care what kind of charges are made. If I walk out of this office, on this chicken(blacked out) stuff, boy, it'll leave a mark on the American political system that's unbelievable.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: If you listen carefully, he's never saying that wire, illegal wire tapping for political purposes is wrong. He never says that. It's getting caught that's wrong.

DICK CAVETT: The president actually, you know, has asked us to turn down all thermostats. His critics claim he'll do anything to get the heat off but, um...

CROWD: (laughs)

RICHARD NIXON: I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president's a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

MAN ON STREET: I'm just wondering whether, uh, justice is being done or will be done.

MAN IN HAT: I did support him before but I do think he should be impeached at this time.

WOMAN WITH SHORT HAIR: I, I guess I feel the impeachment procedure should go ahead.

WOMAN IN CAR: Most people don't know what impeachment means, it would tear this country apart.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) Corruption in the Nixon administration was hardly limited to Watergate. In October of 1973, vice president Spiro Agnew resigned amid charges of extortion, bribery and, uh, oh yes, income tax evasion. The man with the slightly unfamiliar name, Gerald Ford, a congressman, was appointed to replace him.

DICK CAVETT: The man besides me is Vice President Gerald Ford. I'm always welcoming guests and it seems strange to welcome you to your own home but welcome to your own home.

GERALD FORD: Thank you, Dick. It's a pleasure to be on your program.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Nixon and his people thought that making Gerald Ford the Vice President of the United States would be a kind of impeachment insurance, uh, that was one of the calculations because Ford had a kind of reputation as kind of a party hack, wasn't particularly, uh, distinguished, he wasn't thought of for his intellectual acumen.

DICK CAVETT: It is conceivable that there may be criminal prosecutions against the president of the United States. Um, you can say that Agnew, in a sense, bartered his job to stay out of jail. Would you make a similar deal with Mr. Nixon?

GERALD FORD: I should say, Dick, that, um, first, uh, I have no doubt whatsoever that the president is not guilty of any criminal charges that might be forthcoming. I'm absolutely positive, I'm absolutely certain of that. As a matter of fact, I think the president is, um, uh, being unfairly accused based on any evidence I've seen of being involved in the planning, the execution or the cover-up of Watergate. Now, that's my own personal conviction and, uh, it's based on a number of things but I feel very strongly.

WOMAN IN SUNGLASSES: If it's a matter of deciding whether it's Nixon or the law, I think the law is much more important than the man.

WOMAN WITH BIG HAIR: The whole bunch should get somebody new in. I think that they've been crooked from the beginning. I don’t know why people still have any faith in, in what Nixon's doing.

OLDER WOMAN: This country's coming on to its 200th anniversary and I wanna be proud of it when it does and I'm not too proud of it right now.

DICK CAVETT: (V.O.) By August 1st, 1974, pressure was mounting on Richard Nixon. The house judiciary committee had voted three articles of impeachment against him and he was quickly losing republican support in Congress.
RICHARD NIXON: Let me see, can we get these lights properly, uh, lit. My eyes always have, you'll find it when you get past 60. That's enough.

BOB WOODWARD: I've often said and thought it would have been great if there had been a strong lawyer in the Nixon White House who would have gone into Nixon and said, "do you know what's going on, do you know what you're doing? You're the president of the United States, knock this off. This is against the law. If this ever comes out, you're finished in history."

TIMOTHY NAFTALI: There's a debate over whether Richard Nixon actually precisely ordered the break-in at the Watergate but he didn't have to order it precisely to be responsible for it. Richard Nixon created a climate. He just wanted the data, he wanted it any way possible and he wanted a lot of it and he put pressure on them to get it. He established objectives that could only have been met through illegal activity.

RICHARD NIXON: Oh, you want it level, don't you? Yes, yes. Good evening, this is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office where so many decisions have been made that shape the history of our nation. Need anymore?

CARL BERNSTEIN: Other presidents have crossed this line or that, to our knowledge nothing approaching this. There is nothing like thing. What Watergate, the term, is about is a criminal presidency, uh, and Richard Nixon was a criminal president.

RICHARD NIXON: Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office.

Mr. Vice President, are you prepared to take the oath of office as president of the United States?

GERALD FORD: I am, sir.

If you will raise your right hand and repeat after me, I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear...

GERALD FORD: I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear...

...that I will faithfully execute...

GERALD FORD: ...that I will faithfully execute...

...the office of the president of the United States.

GERALD FORD: The office of president of the United States.

...and will to the best of my ability...

GERALD FORD: And will to the best of my ability...

...preserve, protect and defend...

GERALD FORD: ...preserve, protect and defend...

...the constitution of the United States...

GERALD FORD: ...the constitution of the United States.

...So help me God.

GERALD FORD: help me God.

GERALD FORD: This is an hour of history that troubles our minds and hurts our hearts. My fellow Americans, our long, national nightmare is over.

BOB WOODWARD: Ford will be known in history as the one who pardoned Richard Nixon.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Did Woodward tell you the story? Did he tell you?

BOB WOODWARD: I was asleep and Carl called me up and said, "have you heard?" And I said, "I haven't heard anything, I've been asleep" and, and Carl really has the ability to say what occurred in the fewest words with the most drama.

CARL BERNSTEIN: Son of a bitch pardoned the son of a bitch. (laughs) And Woodward, familiar with my way of speaking, instantly recognized what I meant, uh, and, uh, we were livid.

GERALD FORD: Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, president of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon my by article two, section two of the constitution, have granted by these presence do grant, a full, free and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon.

DICK CAVETT: I hated Gerald Ford for the pardon when I got the news of it. Um, I just couldn't believe it.

DICK CAVETT: What was the hardest part about pardoning Richard Nixon?

GERALD FORD: There was a basic decision that I had to, uh, decide one, whether the fate of an individual was, uh, more important than the problems of the nation as a whole.

CARL BERNSTEIN: We thought this was part of a conspiracy, we knew that offers had been made to Nixon about a pardon, et cetera, and, um, we were so wrong. Um, it's one of the great heroic acts of a president of the United States, Ford's pardon of Nixon. Um, Ford's a great president partly because of that.

BOB WOODWARD: He had a great motive for pardoning Nixon. It was not for Nixon or for himself, it was for the country.

DICK CAVETT: Ford was canny enough in his explanation of it that I was braced not to accept but he convinced me.

GERALD FORD: I think you have to look at it this way too, Dick. Um, while I was deciding whether I should or should not pardon Mr. Nixon, I asked my counsel, Phil Buchan, to check with the, Mr. Jaworski who was, as you know, the special prosecutor. He said, if he is indicted, it would be at least a year before he could be brought to trial and if he were brought to trial, it would take some time for the trial to proceed and then if he were convicted, he could appeal on up to the Supreme Court and the best estimate we got was that it would anywhere from two to six years at, during that time span and all the time that was going on, Dick, we would of had the headlines, former president Nixon this, former president Nixon that, and I was trying to heal the country, not tear it apart.

DICK CAVETT: It's a very interesting and dramatic scene in your book in which you have to help me with the name, was it Becker?

GERALD FORD: Benton Becker. I sent him out to California to, uh, sign a contract, uh, with the Nixon people and Mr. Beck went out and he actually talked to former president Nixon at that time and I think that's the scene.

DICK CAVETT: He says to him, and doesn't seem able to get his attention fully, "do you realize that acceptance of a pardon is, and in fact, has been declared by an early Supreme Court decision back in 1915 I think...

GERALD FORD: It's the verdict case. Uh, it was decided, as you said, in 1915, it's a complicated case but the net result was it, uh, he court, the supreme court decided that a person, uh, could be, uh, pardoned even though he had not been indicted or convicted and secondly, and these are the important words, Dick, uh, the court said and I quote, uh, "the granting of a pardon is an imputation of guilt and the acceptance, a confession of it."

DICK CAVETT: Something I thought didn't get enough play, enough publicity was the fact, startling to me that in point of fact to accept a pardon is to admit guilt and yet Nixon went to his grave, of course, continually maintaining with the help of at least one of his daughters, that he never did anything wrong.

DICK CAVETT: Everybody seems to see it as a PR problem or a political maneuvering or if we'd only been apart at this point and, and I would say to myself, they still don't get it, they don't realize that there was some larger question at issue.

DICK CAVETT: Funny how people have asked me, are you proud of, uh, your role in all this and so, only in the sense that I set out to do an entertaining talk show when I went into television, never dreaming that I would get up to my neck in a national scandal and that it would influence people's lives and careers and fates and prison terms and books they wrote and things written against and for them and all of that. When it was mostly all over, I kinda shook myself and thought, I'm kinda glad that's over.

DICK CAVETT: Maybe it's, we've seen too many Frank Capelin movies to hope that maybe John Dean or one of you in either one of those squalor meetings would have said, "my god, here we are in the tradition of Jefferson, Lincoln and Washington talking about dougging and kidnapping and prostitutes and wire tapping and all that crap" and we, no one has never seen this as not the way that leaders should lead. I'm just a sentimental boy, I suppose.