Electronic Media Reviews -- "The Nixon Interviews with David Frost" (Volumes I-V)

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"The Nixon Interviews With David Frost." Hollywood: MCA/Universal Home Video, 1977, 1993. 6:10 in five volumes (VHS). $19.98/volume. Volumes: I Watergate; II. The World; III. War at Home an Abroad; IV. The Final Days; V. The Missing 18 1/2 Minutes.

Only twice did Richard Nixon offer an explanation for his role in the Watergate scandal. One occasion was his 1978 memoirs. The other was in a series of interviews conducted by British journalist David Frost in April-May 1977. Happily for historians, the Frost interviews now have been released for non-broadcast use by MCA/Universal Home Video. The series consists of five volumes, including two about Nixon's diplomacy and handling of domestic unrest, topics he did later discuss. Unique, though, are the volumes "Watergate," "The Missing 18 Minutes," and "The Final Days," in which Nixon, for the only time in his life, publicly relives the demise of his presidency.

The Richard Nixon in these programs is not the Churchillian figure captured in his final years on the Larry King Show and in other benign appearances. Confronted by Frost, for example, Nixon provides some of his most candid observations about the press. He proclaims the 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision "a license for the media to lie" and urges, "Let's not have all this sanctimonious business about the poor, repressed press....When they take on any public figure,...I think the public figure ought to come back and crack them in the puss." He did not read an account of his downfall by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein "because I knew the kind of trash it was and the kind of trash they are."

In the same vein is Nixon's account of Watergate. "There was no cover-up," he maintains. When pressed by Frost for an apology, Nixon claims he gave one by accepting Gerald Ford's pardon. …


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