Frost/Nixon: What the NYC Play Is All About ... Controlling History
“Frost/Nixon” is about the struggle to control historical memory, with television the medium, self-explanation the means, and redemption the prize. Nixon, with his sterile capacity for insight, understood the reductiveness of historical judgment, and he wanted to head off his own ignominy while there was time. Of course, he failed: only historians and partisans remember what Nixon did before June 17, 1972, and the only one of the Frost interviews that anyone recalls is the session on Watergate. For better or worse, popular memory flattens out the facts. For decades, the Civil Rights Act and Medicare were obliterated from Lyndon Johnson’s record by the glare of napalm. Jimmy Carter is defined by the hostage crisis and a word, “malaise,” that he never uttered. Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire. And so on....
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