Tim Naftali, former Nixon Library director, is once again in Max Holland's cross-hairs

Historians in the News

On Washington Decoded, the website he runs,  Max Holland has published an attack on Tim Naftali's reign as director of he Nixon Library. 

While others are focusing on the the library's vacant director's office -- it's been deserted since Naftali left -- Holland, an independent journalist, says we should be focused on the oral history program Naftali ran.  In Holland's view, it was badly run.  He claims that Naftali's decision to do most of the interviews himself sabotaged the effort.  He claims Naftali was ill-organized and badly prepared:

The first noticeable deficit is scope: the list of those who were interviewed is grossly skewed. Important aspects of the two-year scandal are hardly or not covered at all, while others are over-represented, however justified each individual interview may have been.

    The Watergate cast of characters is well known, as many of them became household names from 1973 to 1974. Despite the deaths of such key actors as H. R. “Bob” Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell, Sam Ervin, and Barbara Jordan, there are still scores of participants to choose from. Accordingly, Naftali arranged interviews with such prominent figures as the late Charles Colson, John Dean, G. Gordon Liddy, the late Jeb Magruder,William Ruckelshaus, Earl Silbert, and Bob Woodward.

    Still, one is struck by what’s missing, or more precisely, who. There are no oral histories with such key individuals as Alfred Baldwin, the former FBI agent who was the government’s leading witness during the January 1973 trial, or Donald Segretti, who achieved notoriety as the lawyer hired by Dwight Chapin, his former USC fraternity brother, to carry out “dirty tricks” against the Democrats. There is no evidence that Naftali was diligent about seeking to interview the elusive David Young either. Young is perhaps the most important participant in Watergate who has never written or talked publicly about his ordeal. Originally one of national security adviser Henry Kissinger’s closest aides, Young was seconded to Ehrlichman’s domestic policy council in July 1971 to help conduct a study of document classification procedures—and investigate Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers. He co-directed (along with Egil Krogh) the White House “plumbers.”

Holland has been critical of Naftali for years.  In 2010 K.C. Johnson took Holland to task in the History News Network, calling him cranky and  biased.

Naftali declined to offer a response to Holland's latest indictment.

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