As is far too often the case, the Media doesn’t have a clue. But they report as if they do anyway.
If I have a specific pet peeve which is right at the top of my list of things that really bother me, it’s sloppy journalism; to the point where inaccuracies become dishonesty; intentionally or otherwise.
That’s why I created a category in my editorial archive section just for the Media.
I have recently read a fabulous book on the presidency of Richard M Nixon, written by someone, who seems to be an honest to goodness accurate political biographist, by the name of Richard Reeves.
I first came across Richard Reeves when he was being interviewed on one of the Sunday morning US network television news and political shows.
What he had to say about Nixon so fascinated me, that I immediately went out and purchased his book, “President Nixon – Alone In The White House”, published by Simon and Schuster, and sold in Canada for $53.50. Hardcover.
I am fixated by the way people in power, if left to their own devices, very often use, misuse, and abuse their position: especially the great leaders. I say the great leaders, because, far too often, people with real vision have to drag the rest of us along with them.
Generally, we are relatively comfortable with our lot, especially within the North American context. So; when someone with a radical idea comes along which might rock the “comfort boat”, we resist. And very often, for that leader to make his/her vision a reality, he/she is tempted to cross the line and break the rules.
That was Nixon. However, he was not a man of any kind of conviction or great vision for his country or for the world, other than to remain in power. And to wield as much of that power as possible.
History has given Nixon credit for many things, such as: opening dialogue with China, ending the war in Vietnam, and creating a sort of detente with the Russians. Although all of this did happen during Nixon’s term(s) as President. I believe it would have happened anyway. And probably better, if it was under the tutelage of a different President.
Richard Reeves’ book is not the first account of Nixon that I have read. His though, was by far the most enlightening. And the confirming piece on the man who can best be described as a paranoid demagogue.
Reeves invested a great part of his life reading Nixon archives, memos, and speaking with people closest to the man. He also listened to the secret tapes. And what he came away with, was a picture of a man who surrounded himself with people who were just as power hungry as he was, and who would do anything to enhance their position within government, and within his circle.
The other image you walk away with after reading Reeves’ book, and other well documented biographies and studies of Nixon, was that he was very much psychologically unstable.
Wherever Nixon looked, what he saw were enemies: within the press, the Congress, the Senate, and even his own administration.
By the time Nixon won his second term, he was one of the most popular Presidents to have occupied that high office. But; nonetheless, his insecurity still gripped him in an iron-like vice.
According to all the released material on Nixon, he spent more time of his Presidency, worrying about the “disloyalty” of the people around him, and the “conspiracy” of the press to get him, than he did about domestic and foreign policy.
Nixon was also so volatile, and so anti-social, that he sequestered himself away from the Oval Office and the White House, and from as many people as he possibly could, including his own staff and executive; with the exception of Haldeman and Ehrlichman.
His separation from the people was so complete, that even the likes of Kissinger couldn’t get through, unless Nixon wanted them to. And when he wanted them, it was at his leisure; any time of the day or night.
According to the newly released transcripts of Nixon’s tapes, he is heard to be remarking to Kissinger that America should use the Atomic Bomb on the North Vietnamese. And Kissinger telling him that using an Atomic Bomb is going to far.
From this, virtually every news Media that I have heard, read and saw; now has it, that Nixon was “prepared” to use the “Bomb” during the Vietnam war, and that it was Henry Kissinger who talked him out of it.
Also; many of the media referred to Kissinger as being the Secretary of State at that time. He wasn’t. Kissinger was the National Security Advisor to the President. William Rogers was the Secretary of State.
Anyone, who would have taken the minimal amount of time to understand anything about Nixon, would know that he was given to outbursts of excess as part of his persona. Nixon thought out loud. He was quick to anger, and quick to overreact. And his staff knew far better than to take anything he said seriously in the heat of discussion.
However; I guess it makes a far better story for the media to report that Nixon wanted to the use the “Bomb” in Vietnam, and was talked out of it by Kissinger, than to write about the real Nixon White House horror stories.
While on the Kissinger subject. If you want to talk about a man who has real blood on his hands; his name is Henry Kissinger, who was no more psychologically stable than the President he served.
Kissinger spent most of his time in secret deals undermining his own State Department, led by Secretary of State William Rogers, while Kissinger was Nixon’s National Security Advisor. Eventually, Kissinger was able to usurp Rogers, and become the Secretary of State during Nixon’s short lived second mandate.
Kissinger won the Nobel Peace prize for ending the war in Vietnam. In reality, he lied to his South Vietnamese allies and sold them down the river in order to win his prize. Doing this, Kissinger guaranteed that much of the world would not trust anything the US government offered in guarantees. Making foreign policy far more difficult than it had to be, and forcing uneasy regimes to either gravitate to the USSR, or play both sides against the middle.
And for a man reputed to have such great personal pride, honor and prestige, he didn’t have much problem accepting Nixon’s description of himself as Nixon’s “Jew-Boy”. Or when Nixon spoke openly about Jewish conspiracies, very often referring to Jews as “Kikes”, Kissinger never uttered a word.
Nixon said these things openly in front of Kissinger’s face, and in mixed company. All of which is also part of the public record, as is heard on Nixon’s many tapes. Such as the conversation he had with the preacher Billy Graham, who just now apologized for being part of an anti-Semitic conversation with the President. But I digress.
In terms of Kissinger being pro Israel; as the myth goes. It was Kissinger who convinced Nixon not to rearm the Israelis before, and even during the Yom Kippur War. Kissinger wanted to teach Israel a lesson.
It was Nixon who unilaterally and personally ordered the rearming of Israel at the very last moment, in spite of Kissinger. And even then, it was almost too late.
It is important to note that neither Kissinger nor Nixon gave a damn about Israel. What they cared about, was stopping the Russians from taking over in the Middle East. And the best way to stop them, was to have the Israelis do it on their behalf.
Had it been for good old Henry, Israel would be a place that used to be. So much for the integrity of Kissinger, who I am quite certain would have used a nuclear bomb against anyone he didn’t like, if he thought he could get away with it. Especially, if it would enhance his own role and prestige on the world stage.
I remember seeing a clip of Ronald Reagan standing before a camera and a microphone, just before he was to tape some kind of message, when he said into the microphone as a lark, “Let’s Nuke The Russians”, or something very similar to that. His statement made news, world-wide, because it was not the right thing for a President of the USA to say, even in jest. But; no one took him seriously.
So, why take Nixon seriously? Especially out of context. And more so, when you know the character of the man? His greatest crimes against humanity was when he bombed Cambodia and Laos in secrecy. Keeping an Atomic Bomb attack secret, would have been a feat even beyond Nixon.
There are many things Nixon did and said that were outrageous. But; his off the cuff remark to Kissinger to “Nuke” Vietnam was not one of them.
It only serves to give today’s Media something sensational to report. Whether or not it had any significance or truth.
Sometimes I think we should “Nuke” the Fifth Estate. Now that “might” be worth reporting.