« Slow Burn

S1 Ep. 4: Lie Detectors

2017-12-19

How a folksy segregationist senator, a team of young investigators, and a few whistleblowers staged the hearings that made Watergate must-see TV.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
My name is marked lack routes. I was an assistant chief council on this Watergate committee. Staff I married you Oreo, I what was hired initially as a researcher and then graduate became an investigator and the Senate The gate, stuff we only been married for forty five years. We think it. We were off to a good start mark lack writs married your rio when in their first date on June, seventeen nineteen, seventy two, It was only later that they realized. It was the same night as the Watergate break him. They ve been going for less than a year when Martin, who was in his final message, Harvard law school got a call from someone high up staff for the Senate Watergate Committee. He was called, the offer market job. This in April nineteen, seventy three about a month before public telling hearings and Watergate were scheduled to begin The Senate had voted. Seventy seven zero to form the committee and hold the hearings
The committee's mission would be to figure out whether illegal improper or unethical activities had taken place during the nineteen seventy two election strangely the Nixon people didn't even try to pressure Republicans in the Senate into voting against the investigation. You think, would have given how hard they worked. Interfere with right patterns, inquiry in the house, maybe to my surprise, maybe because the elect it was over and there is a sense that Nixon was out of the woods or maybe no one thought hearing, should lead anything. You know, let them dig fine who cares? Insolent Nixon was gonna, get impeached The truth is, I haven't, been able to figure out definitively why there is to form the committee passed so easily. When I can say with evidence is that if these Senate hearings were ever going to be a low key affair, possibility, went out the window as soon as Jim. The cord sent his letter to judge John Jason Erica.
There was a sensational development in the Watergate trial. Today, one of the key defendants says there was political pressure and perjury involved in the trial, James Mc Clure one of the burglars who broke into the Watergate. He pleaded not guilty got convicted and was facing decades in prison, and then he wrote this letter in it. Mccord info Dutch rigour, but the water. You conspiracy went way beyond the seven low level operatives would appeared in circus courtroom. Up to that point, Game the bombshell laws the pressure on the dependence to plead guilty until remained silent, wrote report actually occurred. The trial. The matters I limit, we'll. Do the very structure, orientation and impact of the government's case. Why Mccoy wrote. The letter is a matter of some debate: lotta people. It was because he was facing such a stiff prison sentence and you wanted leniency from the judge himself insists that you just wanted to set the record straight regardless whence Erika read the letter in court at the end of March nineteen, seventy three Watergate into
the entered a new phase and just like that all eyes run a Senate committee they force We have Watergate now, will come up Mark Lacquered, Scott, that fateful I call for the Senate Committee higher up about a month later wanna come work on the Watergate investigation. Yes, he did, but there is one small problem marks. Friend, Mary was happily living in California and working in a law. Firm and she'd been expect. Marked move out west to live with her when she was dealt with law school. She didn't want me Washington DC, I'm looking at thinking I've got the apartment. I got the view. I've got me. I've got this life and sentences our skin every weekend. What assailing? What is your problem? No, no! No! He says we're going to do. This Mary agreed to go along with parks plan. This really was going to be important to him, and I was in love, and so therefore it was important to me or can marry arrived in Dc Merryland The job working for the committee, as well as a researcher at first,
mostly red and summarised the reams of documents and interviews and credit card records that the investigators recollecting from witnesses later promoted to investigator and she started working alongside Mark. I was not got, my family was republican. My parents were not delighted with what I was doing, one living with this guy to working on this committee neither Mary nor Mark had any idea what was coming when they got to Washington. We were clueless, we didn't know bigger, was gonna, be we sort of suspected because of all the things We saw and read that something wasn't right in the state of Denmark, but we had no idea that it was gonna. Glow into what it blew into that spring and summer. I wanna get. Hearings became the greatest show on earth political pressure from the White House was conveyed to me. He told me this. At the documents and each sex. The briefing indicated he'd kill me, there was no need to buy our silence. We are not for sale,
as one Nixon higher up after another came before the seven senators in the committee and revealed a we'll things senators fired. When dramatic questions at them. Concern about the action was known to you to Billy. What on earth would it have taken to decide against that? those questions, were informed by hours and hours of research and Investigation Committee staff, like Mary marked the senator just ask the break in the Watergate Office building. They asked legal fundraising but the campaign to sabotage I'd Muskie but a whole panoply of dirty tricks and possible. Felonies Two months into the hearings can Senator law like her question John Mitchell. Next, First attorney general and the chair of his re election campaign, the Senate asked about a meeting in they. Seventy two during Gee, Gordon Liddy, one of the organizers of the Watergate Breakin hitched, a roomful of top Nixon officials on some points. Extreme election year shenanigans, one of them was tat,
bug and kidnap radical leftist leaders like Abbe Hoffman, and keep them in the Mexican How to prevent them from causing trouble at that yours republican convention here Senator, like her the plan wait with visual aids, including the elaborate charts like electronic surveillance and breaking and entering in prostitution, kidnapping you ve, been in hindsight rubbish, throw them out of the office out of the window of the in Hindsight you mean to tell me that you sat there through that mean and, in fact, actually had the same man come back in Europe, for a second without in any way alerted. Belgrade authorities, in this particular case, the present, the United, that is, exactly what happened the gravy Acerra moments like this,
happen every day during the roughly four months that the Watergate hearings were on tv, but they happened a lot. And many of them have been choreograph by people like Mary Durio and her boyfriend mark lack rights who were not in front of the cameras? there was an enormous gap between what the public, saw and what was going on behind the scenes we were like the script writers of the soap opera. In this episode, we're gonna hear, but that spreading process balls, to hear some of the soap opera itself, because it was so a good soap opera. One then in use the country to a whole cast of strange characters, featured bread The twist and revelations generated a number of honest to goodness pre internet means what was it like, watch, the spectacle on tv and get utterly sucked into the scandalous. It became a national obsession. Nor is it like orchestrated obsession to expose a high level government conspiracy, unlike television before an audience millions, this is burn upon about one time your host,
the unknown John Dene implicated. Perhaps a dozen people in this war and testimonies today and the President himself, there was maintained what was called and enemies list which was rather expensive. Why on earth should I believe anything John Dene says episode for light and actors. The two people who did the most to shape the Senate. Watergate hearings were a pair of guiding SAM one young and the other old the young one with SAM dash. He was the chief, over the democratic standards in the committee he was in charge of leading the team of staffers, including Mary Mark who had been hired by the Democrats. Aimed at whose job is to oversee these young ambitious lawyers. Investigators. As they conducted closed or interviews and research and figured out how to put on the stand and what to ask them, SAM Dash push to staff to be as aggressive as possible,
the other SAM, the older one, with Senator SAM Urban. He was there to reassure the general public it was a conservative Democrat from North Carolina. He was chosen. Led the committee because he wasn't seems a partisan, the reason, those books like this. Hearing won't be a circuses at the chairman of the Select committee is urban of North Carolina Salmon probably the most respected man in the: U S Senate he is. There had been some talk about putting TAT Kennedy in charge, defend early Massachusetts had been the one Watergate, been the one to offer the resolution to form the one the committee in the Senate, clear to everyone involved that it would have been a bad idea to have number one political enemy running the show SAM Urban. Again with a conservative democrat, he was seen as someone who could win the trust of people on the left and the right. Someone who could be fair with his jolly face his cartoonish eyebrows. In this of gray hair. The centre
North Carolina was basically a perfect southern grandpa This has nothing to do with Margaret. How do you know I was chairing, because I can understand why you just my mother, although he had a degree from Harvard LAW, Urban cultivated the image of an old country lawyer, I'm just going to learn whether North Carolina probably make employees with a little bit more vigour, somebody's. Happily, lobbies do I'm just a country lawyer was urban, catchphrase it was later uses. The title is Biography chairman oh much, to say that he graduated from Harvard LAW School with honour up until they were real. I might say a word on the bed in addition to routinely making the hearing room erupt in laughter urban used to status and its credibility to keep the committee on track behind the scenes. When his but can colleagues pushed to investigate Democrats in addition to the Nixon campaign urgency
but on staying focused expanding the committees her view he said, would be as foolish. Going, bear hunting and stopping the chase rabbits hearings began on May seventeenth. Nineteen. Seventy three urban made it clear, his opening statement, just how high he thought the stakes were if the men allegations made this daily. True, then the burglars have broken the head waters of the democratic nice bed at Watergate Way. On effect, make it. In the home of every citizen of the United States, if these obligations proved to be true. What they were thinking to steal was not the jewels money. The property of american citizens much more valuable them precious urging the right to vote and the election remember what I said there are means that came out of the hearings, Sam Urban is one of them. He became a folk here, as soon as the hearing started using the cup of time and even rolling stone there. Official Samara than Fan club that sold tee shirts posters and buttons in Sudan, Nineteen. Seventy three
Hearings were almost over urban recorded, spoken word album for CBS Records, called Senator Samad, hum the record is that of urban telling stories and performing popular songs like Rachel would trouble. Maybe down like the hearings. Urban peppered is questions with quotes from the Bible. He also carried a pocket edition of the constitution at all times. Here's committee staffer Gordon Friedman, SAM Urban, would take a small government bringing office copy of the. U S, constitution, little blue constitution, and he would shake it at those witnesses almost like you know somebody shaking cross at a vampire it became clear. The hearings went on the urban was discussed. Urban disgusted by much of the testimony when he witnesses he thought weren't being straight with him. He skilfully pin them down at his biographer, put it urban
through oceans of sophistry like a great gaol, diving for pray, one point urban spark of more. He stands Nixon's campaign financed chairman. You might remember and from episode too, he was the guy. His hand right patents investigator refused to shake during send it hearings. Urban took stands to task for destroying documents pertaining to campaign, fundraising I will say to you there was no connection lay in my destruction of the summary its given today by Mr Sloan and the Watergate Affair, railway suspicious collapsible the records which show that these matters were destroyed six days after the break the Watergate. Adjectives at your using clear coincidence. Sense as well. Don't you like a rather suspicious lie, known senator, I think, as part of the cap. There is,
big issue with describing Irving simply a truth telling hero. He was also an repentant segregationist in nineteen, fifty six he helped draft. The southern manifesto a document that railed against the Supreme Court's decision in Brown The board of education. Forced integration. The manifesto said, is destroyed the amicable relations between the white and negro races and have increased through ninety years of patient effort, urban ridiculous ideas, found their way into his Watergate work. At one point, he declared that Watergate was. You're tragedies in the civil war. I am delighted to several hundred ways but remember that there were some idea figures and that there were some buried display almost As you know, my name and while some liberal took note of urban shameful opposition to civil rights. The Dc Gazette and Alternative newspaper,
the list of the centres most backwards beliefs, quoting an essay urban had written called the case for segregation. Nixon's AIDS and tried to reassure the president that urban record on race would hurt, is credibility with the public and the press, the Nixon in believe it and it turned out. He was right not to in spring and summer of nineteen. Seventy three same urban. A figure of reverence for liberals wanted to see Nixon taken down and was described as a man who knew right from wrong. We and fatherly demeanor conceal the penetrating legal mind. Left wing magazine the nation, praised him in an editorial pro. They mean that as long as someone like same Urban is around, it follows a cow when decency in politics respect for the constitution, rights guaranteed to the individual citizen have not all thrown in the trash sheep its oral donation excused urban support for segregation. Argue that even in that wrong, headed attitude, he was not inhumane.
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Welcome back to slow burn in this episode, we're looking at how the Senate Watergate hearings were staged and how they became appointment. Television. Two SAM's urban and dash had the idealist, to the hearings like a pyramid starting up. But the bottom of the next organisation and working up to those closest to the president, first witnesses included the likes of James Mc Cord, the Watergate Burglar, who wrote the letter to judge the Erika There is also a guy named Tony lawsuits, a plain spoken former by PD officer with job with Nixon campaign, basically doing dirty work. Accordingly, lawsuits talked in jarring detail about the schemes they been asked to carry out, but Nixon reelection election campaign. Mccord, you the actual phone to demonstrate how to plant a bug. Cover, would be taken over the telephone and two of the wires Would be interconnected in Syria and here's. You also its describing a message he was asked to pass on to Mccord once the cover up was underway.
I don't have the original knowledge. I wrote the phrases lightly after I agree, and it was a year is a long time, No one knows how a judge will go. Family will be provided for irritation and job opportunities, We provide for, during this conversation, ass, the wind got bigger and bigger in stature. The Watergate hearings became a blockbuster. The three tv networks traded off broadcasting them live for up to six or seven hours a day. Then they all played lights and offered commentary on the biggest bombshells at night, Yes, meanwhile, we broadly the hearings in their entirety, starting at eight p m, so that people who worked during They didn't have to missus second a delicious irony here. Dixon had long been an enemy of public television and ninety sixty nine. He had called for slashing PBS as budget and have now public broadcasting service, was fundraising off the administrations downfall, bringing in one point five million dollars and donations during the first three months of hearings
your view, one PBS executive thank Nixon for giving the network its best programming ever. At the end of the summer, a Gallup poll found that ninety percent of Americans had tuned into at least some of the hearings. Soap up, like the young in the restless and days of our lives, lost viewers, as the hearings hit. The topic a time Nielsen charts. Everyone today was talking about Watergate and there was practically no other topic of conversation when stories The Watergate scandal first started appearing most people this ban. What all of us was about All that is change The name Watergate has become binding common life. By with me, thou lie, individual members of the Senate, Watergate Committee staff would receive phone calls at work and at home. Strangers wanting to talk to them about the hearings. Sam and to get an unlimited number and take his name off the directory of buildings lobby. The committee
seemed a million and a half letters over the course of just a few months one highly motivated viewer, sent a complaint to the committee and by the senators smoking habits. The anonymous letter writers who the smokers in the committee were making too much noise clanking their pipes against their shoes in their ashtrays and just didn't, look dignified, included with the letter was a box of pipe tempers one. Many began selling a device marketed as a long distance lie. Detector people by mail, so they could pointed at their tvs to find out if the witnesses were telling the truth. The hearing limits, else, with small stifling the hot and crowded with spectators and reporters stood in line outside to get their turn in the belly. The beast famous for there's like Mary Mccarthy, Norman Mailer came through as a barber Streisand the cabin also filmed in episode of his talk show from the hearing room after the days, testimony had come to a close, allow I'm dead. And now I can't believe where I am at this moment- maybe get either was alive. Studio audience in the room wandered around in amazement. Like clearly have
surreal experience life at once. Took a seat in the main witness chair. Straightened is back in. Into the camera, knowing it asked me, but I would like to make it clear right now that I have no knowledge whatever the Watergate government. In fact, I still There was much nowadays I'd like to then interviewed one of the republican senators telling him jokingly that when he sat down that would in his chair he felt guilty. It responded, you might be the first one them Significant and dramatic witness of the hearings was John Dene. You ve heard of before, but to refresh your memory, and carry out the Watergate cover up. But then he had decided to flip to tell the committee everything he had heard everything The committee everything he had heard everything he had done. The It serves Dixons Whitehouse Council, up until a few weeks before the hearing started, Thirty, four years old and he looked even younger SAM Dash, the chief council, advised him to put on horn rimmed glasses instead of his usual contacts. So you'd look more serious
The committee will come to council with all the third major right in the end dean probably didn't need the glasses. His testimony bracing enough over the course of time. Four days in June dean methodically described, the Nixon campaign, had paid hush beneath the burglars after the break him He also revealed that Nixon Captain Enemies list which has extensive and continually being updated. I'm not going to ask who is on it. I'm might ask. The list was reveal to include TAT Kennedy, NOME, Chomsky, John Lennon, right, Patman and hundreds of others. Most importantly, dean placed responsibility for the cover up to we at the president's feet. He recalled the conversation which he had told the president, how much it would cost to keep the burghers quiet. I the president about the fact there was no money to pay these individuals to meet their demands. He me how much it would cost. I told him
only make an estimate that it might be as high as a million dollars or more. He told me was no problem. He also looked over. HI magazine described Dean as our wish, and so you opening lifeless monotone, but what stood out about means testimony was its precision. Indeed, dean owed much credibility to his easy command of details and almost robotic recall in on private interview with the committee staff Dean specified that some controversial meeting he'd been where mismatched plants Dean's lifeless monotone would prove to be a pivotal voice of the Watergate saga is shifted. The nations as for the burglary to what it's a new and when he knew it, You know that line right. What are they that it now and when did he know it it's one of the most fame Watergate soundbites, along with follow the money, and I am not a crook. The person who said one of the president know, and when did he know it was Howard? Baker you're from Tennessee and the top ranking Republican on the committee. I
imagine that phrase being uttered as an angry demand that must have come at a pivotal moment, part of a dramatic cross examination of an uncooperative witness it turns out. That was quite the case. The truth is that bakers, What did the president now and when did he know it over? and over and over again it was like his thing what did the president now and when did he know what did the president? No? and when did he know, let me reiterate what did the president now and when You know it reminds me of when you see your favorite band played two nights in a row and on the sector Night, you realise that all their spontaneous stage, banter was totally rehearsed, of course, First is necessarily a bad thing. John D. Testimony was meticulously rehearsed and it's hard to oversee how stunning it was a specific was an how vivid I began by Having the president that there was a It's her growing on the presidency and if the cancer, does not remove. The president himself would be killed by it.
So told him that it was important that this can There be removed immediately because was growing more deadly everyday means. Testing indicated that Nixon had known all along what was going on with the Watergate cover up and that he, enthusiastically taken part in it? These were deeply billing things to absorb the president of the United States, they should people up Mary De Oreo Senate, Watergate Committee. Investigator remembers talking to her father and the phone, but the hearings he was a Republican And even watching at home in Ohio Sea were was still believing that there was going to be that moment there would show this president to be presidential. Remember his parents, weren't thrilled when their daughter went to work for the committee, but one night after so much closer testimony had been delivered. Mary was on the Another dad and she could hear that something has changed and it was really clear This is serious in my Who was a man of very few words said. Well honey. I guess there are some bad actors.
And I'm sorry, I'm sorry that you and Mark are in there situation, YO. He was a believer. I hung up the phone and I started to cry. I thought I said to mark you know it's one to lie to the people and just do what you're doing, but to hurt my father Now, I'm never forgive this guy. For that not everyone, was persuaded by John Dene. Testimony question swirled but his honesty and about his motivations wars, because angle where had come from and what we are getting in exchange for testimony ya. Think thing was very afraid, with some good reason being the scapegoat for Watergate badly Nixon White House. That's Jim Hamilton, who for the Watergate committee. As an assistant chief Council Hamilton was a small group that met with dean and prompt him for his appearance in front of the Senate Committee, purpose of the meetings was to organise Dean's evidence find out what one of the say and then figure out how and in what order. He would say
we obviously had interesting self protection. I so think. They're derby realize it had gone into the White House and what he had been involved in was just wrong, and then with time to get it out. So while he was protect, he himself, I also think have view is performing a public shares the Nixon Restoration and surrogates worked hard to discredit dean. They did him as the masterminded, the cover up and opportunistic rap roasting author of the invisible bridge told me about one point: brilliant same talking point they leave. The reason he was dropping the dime cuz. He was afraid he was gonna, be raped in prison. What, yes? That he's. Fraid of going to prison because he's so conscious of his young good looks something like that. That talking point made it the papers, courtesy of Joseph Alsace, syndicated com, to describe Dean as a smooth faced young man, whose reportedly obsessed by fear going to jail the problem DE was that there was no way to backtrack as testimony no one else would corrupt
latest his version of events and unlike say, former FBI Directorate James Combing Dean, hadn't taken dieter of contemporaneous notes with conversations in the White House. Meanwhile, the and had spent a year telling the american people that he had no advanced knowledge. The burglary, no in organizing the cover up John Dene word against Richard Nixon's. On earth? Should, I believe anything John Dene says genes that he will take a lie. Detector chest in all matters were his testimony. Conflicts with that of other is the only man who discussed Watergate repeatedly with a president who is no longer loyal to the president, although it be debated, whether that makes his testimony more trustworthy or less pool taken about month after Dean testified asked respondents who they thought was telling the truth exactly half so believed in twenty five percent. The orange sure who to believe, but even those people who were in, I do think deem was telling the truth were left with a nagging feeling that they would never really know. It seem like war
it was doomed to forever remain a case of he said he said, I realize almost an impossible task, if it's one man against the other that I'm up against and it's not a very pleasant situation. But I can only speak what I know to be the facts and that's what I'm providing this committee. And then one day in July that seventy three Senate, why are you committee the definitive proof that the country had been looking for. It was Friday night July. Thirteenth would mean placards found out their Richard Nixon had been taping. All this relations in the oval office. Laggards was working. Cubicle when one of the other staffers ran into tell him. The news that staffer had just been, interviewing Wanna Nixon's AIDS is extra I saw his eyes are wide open. It comes into my cubicle. We got em. The White House with bugged lacquered, couldn't believe it makes an automatic keeping system in the White House all. Those conversations of John Dene testified about the report
of all of them. The scoop came that frightened from a Nixon aiding Alexander Butterfield and Butterfield? testifying whether taping system, the committee's next hearing the following Monday that that lacquered and the handful of other staffers who knew that Nixon's taping system had to keep the secret for more than forty eight hours there is one person and a committee staff who Mark was especially desperate to tell Sunday I rarely Monday morning crazy man jumping or are not done at nine finalizing MAC. What isn't like we gotta gotta, get some sleep here, even use tossing and turning he's toss in internal, and he says now this Three in the morning he says, can I tell you something and I said, yeah washed it, but wait, wait marry you gotta promise me do not to tell a soul that mark It's three in the morning, you think, I'm gonna do. Finally, he told her.
Not the secret interview about the taping system, but the Nixon aid who is set to reveal the existence of the tapes the very next day he's gonna, be the surprise when, and this is what is going to say when now we're both wide awake the next day, the rest of the country was too good evening? There was a surprise witness at the Watergate hearings today and he made a dramatic disclosure Alexander Butterfield former aide to Hr Haldeman said that President Nixon ordered Secret Electronic This podcast the production of sleep, slaves, membership programme, sleep plus members get a complete, honest episode of slow burn every week going be in the wild world of water did I'm sharing somebody amazing stuff. I found in rejecting the series and play extended versions of my interviewed of people who watch it all go down this week, be joined by two of slate colleagues, Katy Waldman Henry Dunbar for Watergate Book Club.
Discussing the mask of state by Mary Mccarthy and accounting And it Watergate hearings that was published just before Nixon resigned, on Wednesday I'll be doing a facebook chat on the slate plus group page sleepless members help. Porthos show and the rest of our work. You can find out more firstly plus slate dot com, slash Watergate, Slow produced by me and Andrew Parsons are script editor Josh Levine Gabriel, off as the editorial director of slate plus work for slow burn by Teddy blanks and ships. Thanks to end- the archives in the Nixon Presidential Library Museum. Put the audio you heard in this episode, thanks to slaves Two June Thomas Stephen time, special thanks to Kate Scott U S Senate historical Office, Anti Gordon Friedman, proprietor Watergate committee dot org for helping you with this week's episode. You can find a full list of book. Articles in documentaries used to research. This episode on our show page
ex episode of slower and will come out in two weeks we're taking a little break for Christmas. When we come back we'll meet Richard Nixon apologists. How did the presents loyal allies managed to defend him? Even became more and more obvious that you're hiding something terrible working class white men who were Democrats who voted for damages as all their lives. They talk about, one can understand why we don't see any harm in what Richard Nixon is doing and you know what the answer is- we dont care, I'm Leon unable to next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-07-22.