When Nixon’s Henchmen Plotted to Assassinate a Journalist with LSD

Roundup
tags: election 2016, Nixon, Trump



Gil Troy, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at McGill University. His tenth book on American history, The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, was just published by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin’s Press. Follow him on Twitter @GilTroy

What happens when America’s president is insecure, touchy, prickly, vengeful, narcissistic, and paranoid, more obsessed with crushing his enemies than leading the people? 

If history is a crystal ball—we survive. Richard Nixon’s White House was a petri dish breeding deceit and distrust. It teemed with espionage and enemies’ lists, wiretapping and burglaries, leaked national secrets and even murder conspiracy. All those sins represent just one pre-Watergate feud: Nixon’s crusade against the investigative reporter Jack Anderson. Still, this old-style gumshoe journalist who saw his job as digging for dirt not writing think pieces, helped proved the system’s resilience.

A transition figure, Jack Anderson had shoes soiled by muckraking, hands ink-stained from typing, and face powdered for his nine-year TV gig on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Lesley Stahl and Dan Rather, all wrapped in one. And, when America needed it, he helped take down a president.

Anderson called himself a “Mormon in Gomorrah” who avoided tobacco, alcohol, cussing, and caffeine, but he was no choirboy. Like today’s notorious WikiLeakers, he trafficked in stolen information. He hired spies to infiltrate government offices, often ruining careers—and lives.  

Mark Feldstein, whose 2010 book dissects the Anderson-Nixon feud, notes that these two enemies were born 30 miles apart in Southern California into hardworking fundamentalist households. Born in 1922, Anderson grew up near Salt Lake City, missionized in the South, and served as a war correspondent in China. In 1947, he settled in Washington, D.C. and started working for Drew Pearson, the gossipy investigative reporter whose Merry-Go-Round column made and broke reputations regularly. ...




comments powered by Disqus