Watergate Revisionism: Fox Journalist Expiates John Mitchell

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“This is not your father’s Watergate,” said James Rosen.

Mr. Rosen, an on-air D.C.-based correspondent for Fox News was speaking to NYTV on Monday afternoon. Next month, Doubleday will publish Mr. Rosen’s first book—a revisionist history of Richard Nixon’s downfall, called The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate.

As NYTV’s overcrowded bookshelf can attest, TV newsmen are constantly cranking out books that are heavy on the self-promotion and light on, um, research. Mr. Rosen’s book promises to be neither. It will weigh in at a hefty 600 or so pages, contain 65 pages of footnotes, and will include insight culled from some 250 original interviews. There was no ghostwriter. And in a clear affront to the requirements of the genre, Mr. Rosen’s face doesn’t even appear on the cover.

Mr. Rosen said Strong Man will be the first major biography of John Mitchell, the late U.S. attorney general, who played a pivotal role in the “rise, reign and ruin” of Richard Nixon. In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Mr. Mitchell was convicted on a number of charges stemming from his role in the botched break-in and surveillance operation. The nation’s top law enforcement official eventually spent 19 months in prison.

“He never went on the lecture circuit,” said Mr. Rosen. “He never went on the Mike Douglas show. He never testified about Nixon to get a more lenient sentence. He never found God.”

And he never wrote an autobiography. At one point, Mr. Mitchell signed a contract with Simon & Schuster to write a memoir. But according to Mr. Rosen, Mr. Mitchell eventually balked at writing about Watergate and passed away in 1988, leaving the biography unwritten and leaving many details of his life—from the false notion that he commanded John F. Kennedy during World War II to the bogus suggestion that he played hockey for the New York Rangers—shrouded in mystery and misconception.
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