35 min

Off the Rails Nixon at War

    • History

With the publication of the Pentagon Papers in June ’71, the demons that Richard Nixon has wrestled throughout his presidency – indeed, through much of his public life – begin to gain the upper hand. “The strain of office, and the belligerency of his enemies,” Nixon biographer Jack Farrell says, “have begun to unsettle the president, dispelling the ‘mellow’ Nixon of 1968 and unleashing the self-injurious behavior of old.” Kissinger and others assure the president that he has nothing to fear from the Pentagon Papers, and might even benefit from the unflattering light they will cast on his predecessors, but the act of publication of classified documents – thousands of pages worth -- rankles deeply.  Very quickly, the president’s long festering paranoia and indignation zeroes in on two of his most despised “enemies” – the press, for publishing the government’s closely held secrets, and the leakers within his own deep state, now personified by Daniel Ellsberg, for the growing threat he believes they pose to his own buried secrets.

With the publication of the Pentagon Papers in June ’71, the demons that Richard Nixon has wrestled throughout his presidency – indeed, through much of his public life – begin to gain the upper hand. “The strain of office, and the belligerency of his enemies,” Nixon biographer Jack Farrell says, “have begun to unsettle the president, dispelling the ‘mellow’ Nixon of 1968 and unleashing the self-injurious behavior of old.” Kissinger and others assure the president that he has nothing to fear from the Pentagon Papers, and might even benefit from the unflattering light they will cast on his predecessors, but the act of publication of classified documents – thousands of pages worth -- rankles deeply.  Very quickly, the president’s long festering paranoia and indignation zeroes in on two of his most despised “enemies” – the press, for publishing the government’s closely held secrets, and the leakers within his own deep state, now personified by Daniel Ellsberg, for the growing threat he believes they pose to his own buried secrets.

35 min

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