“Gavel-to-Gavel”: The Watergate Scandal and Public Television
Notes to The Watergate Scandal, 1972-1974
2 A contemporary source includes, Bill Moyers Journal, “Essay on Watergate,” WNET, written by Bill Moyers, produced by Jerome Toobin and Martin Clancy, directed by Jack Sameth, first broadcast October 31, 1973, accessed June 12, 2017, https://vimeo.com/44242486
5 Ibid., 773. In his televised Essay on Watergate, Bill Moyers said, “I spent four and a half years in the White House and can testify as to how tempting it is to put the President's interests above all others. You begin to confuse the office with the man and the man with the country. Life inside those iron gates takes on an existential quality. ‘I think with the president's mind; therefore I am.’”
9 Patterson, Grand Expectations, 774. Stephen Ambrose concurs that Nixon's real crime was ordering the cover-up, that he specifically commanded Haldeman on June 23 to tell CIA director Richard Helms to “call the FBI in and say that we [the CIA] wish for the country, don’t go any further into this case, period!” Indeed, Nixon himself wrote in his diary, “It is the cover up, not the deed, that is really bad here.” Stephen E. Ambrose, Nixon: Ruin and Recovery (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 27, 67.
11 U.S. Senate, "Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities," accessed July 17, 2017, https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/investigations/Watergate.htm.
12 Dash later mused on why McCord decided to break his silence. He said that McCord couldn’t stomach the notion of going down in history as a common criminal. He had acted out of a sense of loyalty to an Administration that had broken his trust by refusing to stand by him. He also had great loyalty to the CIA and resented that it had been dragged into the affair. See Summer of Judgment – The Watergate Hearings, WETA, produced by Ricki Green, directed by Mary Frances Sirianne, first broadcast July 27, 1983, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_512-mc8rb6ww1z; http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_512-gm81j9840b.
15 Liebovich, Richard Nixon, 77. Richard Nixon: "Address to the Nation About the Watergate Investigations.," April 30, 1973. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3824. In one of the more notable examples of famous last words, Nixon said, “In any organization, the man at the top must bear the responsibility. That responsibility, therefore, belongs here, in this office. I accept it. And I pledge to you tonight, from this office, that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the guilty are brought to justice, and that such abuses are purged from our political processes in the years to come, long after I have left this office.”
16 Sam Dash later commented that the Committee changed their operating procedure to work with Dean. Dean was worried that Republican staff would report his cooperation back to the White House, so Dash met with him at his home late at night with his lawyer. He also wanted immunity, which he received, but he was disbarred after the affair. See Summer of Judgement.
17 Dean later said, “I do know more about Watergate today than when I lived through it for a very simple reason. I have now listened to all of Richard Nixon's Watergate conversations. I was stunned to find that he was as deeply involved in the cover-up as he really was.” “Dick Cavett's Watergate,” Thirteen/WNET New York, August 8, 2014, accessed June 26, 2017, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/dick-cavetts-watergate-full-episode/1880/
18 After five days, MacNeil, Lehrer, and the Committee had grown weary, leading Lehrer to comment at the end of Friday’s rebroadcast, “That is the very complete John Dean story.”
19 Dean had mentioned during his testimony that he suspected Nixon had recorded at least one of their conversations. The attorneys questioning witnesses in private sessions asked Alexander Butterfield on Friday July 13 if he knew anything about such recordings. He first told the Committee that the tapes existed at that time.
20 Hess said, “[T]he first part of it really is a question of morality and how do you legislate morality? We can have laws on the books to prevent people from wearing red wigs or carrying hundred dollar bills in their satchels, but society pays a tremendous price for it. But this question of how do we control our own public political financing system is key and it’s really ripe for Congressional legislation.”
27 Ibid., 778. As Patterson commented, “It is a mark of Nixon’s tenacity—indeed his desperate passion for control—that he still tried to stay in office.” To read the articles of impeachment, follow this link: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=76082
28 "Covering Watergate: 40 Years Later with MacNeil and Lehrer," video file, 16:07, PBS NewsHour, May 17, 2013, accessed June 9, 2017, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/covering-watergate-40-years-later-with-macneil-and-lehrer.
Notes to Watergate and Public Broadcasting
2 Ibid., viii; Laurence Ariel Jarvik, PBS, Behind the Screen (Rocklin, CA: Forum, 1997), 112; James MacGregor, “Blessing in Disguise: Watergate Is a Boon to Public-Television,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/133802747?accountid=12084.
3 Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 293; James Day, The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995), 249, 378. The Educational Television Facilities Act of May 1962 provided federal funds “for the construction of television broadcasting facilities to be used for educational purposes.” The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 authorized federal funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to “make grants to production entities, individuals, and selected noncommercial educational broadcast stations for the production of, and otherwise to procure, educational television or radio programs for national or regional distribution to noncommercial educational broadcast stations.” Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, Pub. L. No. 90-129, 81 Stat. 1160, http://uscode.house.gov/statutes/pl/90/129.pdf.
6 John Witherspoon and Roselle Kovitz, The History of Public Broadcasting (Washington, DC: Current, 1987), 13. The language of the Commission is truly utopian. In a letter to the Commission published at the beginning of the final report, E. B. White wrote, “Noncommercial television should address itself to the idea of excellence, not the idea of acceptability—which is what keeps commercial television from climbing the staircase. I think television should be the visual counterpart of the literary essay, should arouse our dreams, satisfy our hunger for beauty, take us on journeys, enable us to participate in events, present great drama and music, explore the sea and the sky and the woods and the hills. It should be our Lyceum, our Chautauqua, our Minsky’s, and our Camelot. It should restate and clarify the social dilemma and the political pickle. Once in a while it does, and you get a quick glimpse of its potential.” Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. Public Television: A Program for Action: The Report and Recommendations of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television (New York: Harper & Row, 1967), 14.
9 Robert K. Avery and Robert Pepper, “An Institutional History of Public Broadcasting,” Journal of Communications 30, no. 3 (Summer 1980): 129; Day, Vanishing Vision, 213; Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 23.
10 Nina McCain, “Pubic Television in the U.S.: A Fuzzy Picture,” Boston Globe, June 10, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/612870335?accountid=12084.
11 Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 10; Patricia Aufderheide, “Public Television and the Public Sphere,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8, no. 2 (June 1991): 173, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15295039109366789.
17 Nixon’s fears were perhaps not entirely unfounded. In his memoirs, Robert MacNeil describes his first meeting with Nixon in 1966 thus: “This was my first meeting with Nixon and I carried to it the standard liberal journalist's baggage. It was like obligatory field equipment for the political reporter, this prefabricated set of attitudes about Richard Nixon--standard issue, like my battered Olivetti and grubby trench coat.” He continues, “From his personal to his political style, there was never a lack of disparaging material. Positive material took more finding. He was the classic villain in the melodrama of liberal politics.” Robert MacNeil, The Right Place at the Right Time (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1982), 265.
20 Jarvik, PBS, Behind the Screen, 24. Indeed, at the outset of Nixon’s first term, on May 6, 1969, Nixon's Assistant Clay T. Whitehead suggested that the President congratulate the University of Wisconsin for their 50th year of educational radio broadcasting. Whitehead: “I think it is desirable for the President to be associated in an affirmative way with public broadcasting.” Memorandum from Clay T. Whitehead to Dwight Chapin, May 6, 1969, in The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers: A Summary 1969-1974, by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) (Washington, D.C., 1979), 1. This text, henceforth abbreviated as Nixon Papers, can be found in the Robert Schenkkan collection, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS), Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
21 Day, Vanishing Vision, 213. The Nixon Administration’s plans for public broadcasting were guessed at, but not publically known at the time. The majority of the information regarding its plans has been revealed through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting in 1979. Stone, Nixon and Public Television, xx-xxi. Robert MacNeil notes in his memoir, “Their true motives are more brazenly documented than any other part of the Watergate saga; even while cautioning each other to be discreet, because disclosure would be embarrassing, they wrote it all down.” MacNeil, Right Place, 265.
22 Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 55; Cecil Smith, “Ratings Soar for Watergate on PBS,” Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/157283983?accountid=12084.
23 Clay T. Whitehead, interview, December 16, 1992, Clay Thomas Whitehead Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The interviewer is not identified, but it appears to be Laurence Jarvik conducting an interview for his book PBS, Behind the Screen.
24 Whitehead, interview. Whitehead discussed this mid-range problem solving perspective with William F. Buckley, Jr. in an interview on Firing Line. The two discussed the problem of having only three networks and the prospect of the free market competition that would come from cable. Whitehead argued, “Until that [the three network monopoly] is corrected, you're never going to fulfill the richness and the variety of the potential of television in this country. But until cable comes, until we do have the opportunity for enough channels, we've got an awful lot of people who watch an awful lot of television. We think that we have a responsibility to make that system as best we can until maybe a new system comes along.” Firing Line, “The White House and the Media,” first broadcast February 1, 1973, hosted by William F. Buckley, Jr., accessed June 13, 2017, http://digitalcollections.hoover.org/objects/6259.
25 Clarence Petersen, “Public TV Compromise Offers Slim Hope,” Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/170393242?accountid=12084.
26 Whitehead, interview. Whitehead claimed, though, that while Colson and Haldeman saw public broadcasting “as the enemy politically and were always viscerally prepared” to cut its funding entirely “they never persevered with the political intent to do that.”
31 That Nixon’s advisors were concerned about The Advocates struck some as absurd. One Variety commentator quipped that on The Advocates, “viewers are likely to get two sides of the Adolf Hitler stories and the pros and cons of drug abuse.” Day, Vanishing Vision, 216.
32 Nixon Papers, NAEB, 25. One aspect of the Nixon Administration’s manipulation of public television that this essay does not highlight because it did not become the central point of controversy is the potential use of the fairness doctrine to make content presented on television more favorable to the Administration. For a discussion of the use of the fairness doctrine to dictate content, among other topics, see Whitehead’s conversation with William F. Buckley on Firing Line. In it, Buckley criticizes what he sees as Whitehead’s desire for the government to dictate content. He at one point quips, “You know, that's a little sophistical. It seems to me if you say the speed limit is 50 miles an hour, then you therefore expect people to regulate their speed to 50 miles an hour. But if they don't, you zing them. Right? Now if you say, ‘We don't think that you should countenance elitist gossip,’ are you acting as moralists or are you acting as potential disciplinarians? It would seem to me the latter because you say, ‘What's more, if you don't do as we say, we'll take away your station…People haven't been brought up to take moral injunctions from the Office of Telecommunications.’” Firing Line, “The White House and the Media.”
33 “Memorandum for the President,” draft, June 18, 1971, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 30-32. Another memo sent July 9 advised that the Administration must work hard “to avoid the appearance of hostility to public broadcasting, both because it is a sacred cow in many quarters and because the President’s opponents are already trying to tar him with antagonism towards ‘free and independent’ media.” “Action Memorandum,” sent July 9, 1971, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 32.
34 “Confidential Eyes Only Memorandum,” sent by Jon M. Huntsman to Peter Flanigan, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 36. John Macy later commented that he was baffled by the strength of the President’s response to anything aired on public television. “They viewed us as much more important a force on the American scene than we really were. They had magnified a mouse into a lion. I can’t help but be amused at how exaggerated their estimate of what our strength and influence really was. After all, there weren’t that many people watching.” Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 326.
35 Day, Vanishing Vision, 213-215. MacNeil later wrote on Vanocur, “I didn't realize until later that he was a lightning rod--a lightning rod that nearly burned down the barn.” MacNeil, Right Place, 265.
38 One particularly “liberal” program offensive to the Nixon Administration was Banks and the Poor, a program distributed for broadcast by NET in November 1970. Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 28-35. The financial support of the Ford Foundation was critical to public television in the early years. By the late 1970s, it had invested over $300 million in public media. During this time, the Foundation became synonymous in the Administration for the perceived New York liberal predominance in public television. As a result, Nixon wanted to eliminate its influence. Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 5, 24; Memorandum from Albert L. Cole to Richard Nixon, October 27, 1969, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 7.
39 Engelman, Public Radio and Television, 168; Day, Vanishing Vision, 218. Many, including John Witherspoon, Macy’s lieutenant, were nonplussed by the charge of centralism. Day writes, “They were baffled by his charge that public television had abandoned localism when the charge was clearly contradicted by the facts. If the White House felt the system had not moved far enough, or fast enough, let them find fault within themselves for failing to provide adequate funding.”
41 Day, Vanishing Vision, 216-17. Whitehead later denied that he meant to threaten public broadcasting, but realized the effect it had. “In retrospect, I think it was an ultimatum and I can understand why it was perceived that way.” Whitehead, interview.
43 Engelman, Public Radio and Television, 168. MacNeil described his experience of censorship from the Nixon Administration in this way: “The mounting political troubles were like distant thunder. We were too busy to pay close attention. Yet we were affected; at the very least I know I was determined not to give the Nixon people any ammunition. That editorial sensitivity was inhibiting but not paralyzing.” MacNeil, Right Place, 281.
48 “NAEB Newsletter,” May 10, 1972, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 63-64; Letter from Jim Karayn to Sidney L. James, “RE: NPACT—Where We Stand”, 13 January 1972, Series 2:1, Box 4, Jim Karayn Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. NPACT intended to broacast substantive coverage of the 1972 election that did not come to fruition when its funds were cut. Karayn wrote of his plans in a letter to NPACT’s board: “The weekly series, “A PUBLIC AFFAIR/Election ’72,” which will inevitably be the NPACT showcase, is designed to provide the public with the clearest view yet of the American political process in a Presidential election year. This is NPACT’s most important project. Our success will be reckoned by the extent of its success as a new entry in the 1972 media mix.” He intended the project to have strong pedagogical value that would “look a bit deeper into developing the election issues and the meaningful mechanics of the election process,” rather than just following candidates around the country.
51 “All About How ‘We’ Are Against ‘Them,’” New York Times, April 22, 1973, D15, https://search.proquest.com/docview/119607996?accountid=12084.
52 “Memorandum for the President,” from Whitehead to Nixon, June 26, 1972, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 72-5. Whitehead wrote his recommendation in a memo: “There is not a large viewing audience for public TV, nor does the public seem very aware of it. The professional public broadcasters at CPB and in the local noncommercial stations, however, are becoming an effective lobbying constituency in the Congress. In the name of “public” broadcasting, they are seeking funds and independence to create a TV network reflecting their narrow conception of what the public ought to see and hear. This should not be allowed to happen. I strongly recommend that you veto the CPB financing legislation.”
53 Richard Nixon: "Veto of Public Broadcasting Bill.," June 30, 1972. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3481
55 Voice of America is a U.S. government funded media service broadcast in foreign countries, which began during World War II to combat Nazi propaganda. That Loomis came from a federally controlled broadcaster made it difficult to dispel arguments that Nixon was attempting to create a politically charged CPB board.
61 Bill Moyers, “Public TV: Up the Blandbox,” The Washington Post, Times Herald, April 1, 1973, C1, https://search.proquest.com/docview/148399827?accountid=12084. In a humorous, but critical, editorial, Bill Moyers expressed his incredulity that both his program and William F. Buckley’s program could have been cut purely at the behest of the CPB board. He wrote, “[I]t is fervently avowed that the White House is not calling the plays for public broadcasting. In an administration whose lowest political operatives get their orders from the President's appointments secretary and their funds from the President's personal lawyer, we are asked to believe that a sparrow goes unnoticed. When the tiniest cheep of dissent can send Herb Klein [Nixon’s Communications Director] to the telephone and Spiro T. Agnew to the thesaurus; when the President himself, in the slightly inelegant testimony of one who was there, ‘dumped all over public television’ in a private meeting last year with a group of commercial broadcasters; when the White House enjoys an 8-7 majority of the CPB board, we are supposed to celebrate, without so much of a raised eyebrow, the emancipation of Henry Loomis.”
62 Ron Powers, “Politics Poses a Threat to Public Television,” Los Angeles Times, January 14, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/157232919?accountid=12084.
64 James Day found this logic particularly infuriating. In Vanishing Vision, he wrote, “When Nixon charged PBS with becoming the 'center of power and the focal point of control,' as he did in his veto message, he effectively defined 'centralization' as control of programming by 150 independent local stations. In this Alice in Wonderland world, 'decentralization' came to mean the monolithic control of programming by the Corporation and its White House minions. But inconsistency was no problem for Tom Whitehead; he brushed it aside explaining that 'you have to take power in order to disperse it.' His logic would have delighted the Red Queen. However, Henry Greenburg, his own general counsel, warned the OTP head that the inconsistency was so apparent 'our motives become suspect and the continued restatement of the localism goal is discounted as simply not being credible.'” Day, Vanishing Vision, 235.
67 Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 242. Stone writes, “By the middle of February it was becoming clear that public television viewers were not only vast in numbers, but deeply concerned about the future of news and public affairs programming. This concern was reflected in an unprecedented outpouring of financial support from the viewing audience. In many major cities memberships climbed fifty percent over the previous year. Donations from the public in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas reached record sums.”
68 McCandlish Phillips, “Killian Sees Watergate as Helping Public TV,” New York Times, May 28, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/119877372?accountid=12084
73 Many observers have noted Nixon’s proclivity for being his own worst enemy. John Dean said many years later, “I couldn't figure out how Richard Nixon, as savvy a politician and highly intelligent person could get himself into the problems he got into. There is no simple answer, you literally have to watch it. It’s…kind of like watching a train wreck, if you will to see how he makes one bad decision on top of another bad decision.” “Dick Cavett's Watergate,” Thirteen/WNET New York, August 8, 2014, accessed June 26, 2017, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/dick-cavetts-watergate-full-episode/1880/. Herb Klein, Nixon’s press aide, praised Nixon’s brilliance while also noting “there is a sadistic side, one which derives satisfaction from the thought of vengeance.” He called it Nixon’s “Jekyll and Hyde streak.” Stone, Nixon and Public Television, 311. Historian James Patterson argues that Nixon’s “desperate passion for control,” and “siege mentality,” meant that “something like Watergate was probably an excess waiting to happen.” James T. Patterson, Grand Expectations: United States, 1945-74 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998), 773-78.
74 Erik Barnouw, Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 455. More recently the Knapp Commission, which investigated police corruption in 1970, was a successful TV spectacle. MacGregor, “Blessing in Disguise.”
77 With the help of Texas industrialist Ralph B. Rogers, PBS and CPB came to a “partnership agreement” on May 31, 1973, which delineated rights and responsibilities between the two organizations. Avery and Pepper, “An Institutional History,” 130-31.
83 “Watergate Hearing Meeting 19 April 73” and “Watergate Meeting—24 April 73” Notes, Series 2:2, Box 6, Jim Karayn Papers. Karayn wrote in his notes on April 19, the “Bulk of information can’t be gathered by NPACT research staff and correspondents” due to funding limitations.
84 “WNET To Add Live Watergate-Hearing Coverage,” New York Times, May 11, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/119901815?accountid=12084.
85 David J. LeRoy and Florida State Univ., Tallahassee. Communication Research Center, Public Television Viewer and Watergate Hearings, comp. Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, DC (Tallahassee, FL, 1974), 4, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED101705 (Search for "ED101705" in the search box).
87 “300-plus hours of Watergate cost networks up to $10 million,” Broadcasting Magazine, August 13, 1973, 16; Les Brown, “Public TV to Cover Watergate on Nightly Basis through Tape,” New York Times, November 6, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/119677050?accountid=12084. Their financial troubles were aided somewhat by the agreement made with the networks to pool resources in the hearing room. NPACT paid half as much as the commercial networks to participate in the pool. Daily costs were around $10,000-12,000. By late fall, when the networks had stopped providing coverage, the cost to NPACT jumped 30% to $16,000 a day.
89 Robert A. McLean, “Watergate Good for Public TV,” Boston Globe, June 22, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/612855197?accountid=12084.
92 Scott Armstrong, a Committee staff member called the cameras “a circus that we hadn’t expected.” Chief Counsel Sam Dash was more positive. He later said, “I wanted every American citizen to be able to hear and see the witnesses for themselves and make their own judgments and not have the judgment of someone else. And the only way to do that, if they couldn’t come to the caucus room and see and hear the witness themselves, was to watch it, and the only thing we have today and God bless it that we have it is through television. And it was that and not because we wanted publicity for the Committee, but in order to be able to bring all of America into a democratic process which is the working of their Congress, and it worked, I think.”
93 Joseph M. Montoya to NPACT, July 18, 1973, Series 2:2, Box 6, Jim Karayn Papers. James Karayn sent reports on the coverage of the hearings to all the senators on the Committee. Senators Montoya, Talmadge, and Inouye responded.
94 Cecil Smith, “A Windfall Out of Watergate,” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/157189437?accountid=12084.
95 Lucinda Smith, “TV Viewers Want Less Watergate,” Boston Globe, June 3, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/612857989?accountid=12084.
97 “Watergate Mail: All Favorable,” Cincinnati Enquirer (OH), August 5, 1973. The fear of public television serving a small demographic has been a consistent anxiety throughout all of public television’s existence. In a 1973 article, Nina McCain noted what she considered “perhaps the most fundamental question of all: Can public television broaden the base of its support beyond upper middle class suburbanites, Cambridge professors and Bach buffs?” Nina McCain, “Pubic Television in the U.S.: A Fuzzy Picture,” Boston Globe, June 10, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/612870335?accountid=12084.
98 Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K. Davis, “The Audience of Public Television: Did Watergate Make a Difference?” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism, San Diego, CA, August 1974), 4-5, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED095577.pdf.
100 “Reports from Smaller Stations on Response to Watergate Coverage,” Series 2:2, Box 6, Jim Karayn Papers. One Canadian viewer wrote to the Seattle station, “That you can televise these hearings shows how strong your republic is.” In Buffalo, “55% of the pledges and 60% of that money comes from Canadian viewers.”
101 Roger Downey, “Watergate hearings gives Ch. 9 major boost,” Everett Herald (Everett, WA), August 4, 1973; Steve Hill, “Watergate Calls Bring Money to WEDU,” Clearwater Sun (Clearwater, FL), August 1, 1973; “NPACT Good Example of TV's Great Service,” Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), May 31, 1973.
102 Dick Cavett used the term “Watergate Junkie” to describe himself and others who watched the show so obsessively. Cavett had so many of those associated with Watergate on his show, that in 2014, WNET in New York produced an hour-long program called “Dick Cavett’s Watergate.” “Dick Cavett's Watergate."
103 A study conducted on member station Kentucky Educational Television (KET) concluded that around six times more viewers tuned in to the Watergate hearings on public television, which were funded by private donations, than did for normally scheduled PBS programming. James E. Fletcher, "Commercial versus Public Television Audiences: Public Activities and the Watergate Hearings,” Communication Quarterly 25, no. 4 (Fall 1977): https://search.proquest.com/docview/63868134?accountid=12084.
104 Jules Witcover, “The Watergate Winners: Cloud with Lining of Silver, Gold -- and Green,” Washington Post, August 25, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/148377842?accountid=12084.
105 At the end of the July 13 coverage, Lehrer took a few minutes to evaluate the senators: “But occasionally possibly at a week’s end like tonight, it might be worth taking a look at the Committee itself, the seven senators. How are these people doing legally, politically, cosmetically, charismatically, you name it? Well based on the comments we’ve received from many of you it’s clear that personal favorites and heroes, villains and dunces are being selected by all who regularly watch these proceedings.” The reactions in summary are below: - Baker: “meticulous, neutralist” touted as the next Republican president; - Ervin: “country constitutionalist” celebrated as a national hero, or an “unfair prosecutor of President Nixon”; - Gurney: acting openly as the defender of Nixon; - Weicker: either love him or hate him; - Inouye: “great voice, stern manner, welcome brevity at times”; - Talmadge, Montoya: end up at the bottom of everybody’s ranking list.
106 Russell Peterson described Watergate’s faces in the following way: “it featured a wacky cast of characters, led by the estimable Richard Nixon....its inherent absurdity (G. Gordon Liddy! duct tape! Sam Ervin's eyebrows!) practically dared you to take it seriously.” Russell Leslie Peterson, Strange Bedfellows: How Late-night Comedy Turns Democracy into a Joke (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 34.
107 Thomas Doherty described this phenomenon thus: “The hearings marked the first nation-wide transmission of a constitutional crisis, a distinctly American ritual radiating out not in broadsheets, congressional records, newsreels, or radio, but sound and image, beheld in the privacy of the home. In time, the televised political spectacle, an unrehearsed drama played out to a constitutional script, would become a preferred format for the resolution of executive-legislative-judicial branch disputes." Thomas Doherty, Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 189.
108 Cecil Smith, “A Boon That May Become a Bust,” Los Angeles Times, July 23, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/157311738?accountid=12084.
109 Charles Allen, head of programming for Los Angeles’ KCET, commented, the fall shows are “all lined up at the dock and Watergate is blocking the harbor.” He went on to note that KCET would not support cutting down the hearings or pushing them into the extreme late night slots because gavel-to-gavel coverage “is what public television is all about.” Allen’s stance reflected the opinions of many station managers across the country. Smith, “A Boon.”
110 Tom Shales, “Watergate: Gavel-to-Gavel on PBS,” Washington Post, September 17, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/148416565?accountid=12084. NPACT had broadcast reruns during the senate’s August recess if stations wanted to air them.
112 Associated Press, “PBS Watergate Stand Is Now ‘Inoperative,’” Los Angeles Times, November 1, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/157303176?accountid=12084.
114 Bill Moyers Journal, “Essay on Watergate,” WNET, written by Bill Moyers, produced by Jerome Toobin and Martin Clancy, directed by Jack Sameth, first broadcast October 31, 1973, accessed June 12, 2017, https://vimeo.com/44242486. The show was a damning indictment of the Nixon White House, with quotes such as “Government was supposed to protect society against lawlessness; now it became a lawbreaker, violating the Constitution, in effect, in order to save it.” Author Laurence Jarvik wrote of the episode, “Unlike MacNeil and Lehrer Moyers hit Nixon when he was down for the count.” Jarvik, PBS, Behind the Screen, 114.
118 “Institutional Award: National Public Affairs Center for Television (NPACT),” The Peabody Awards, accessed June 12, 2017, http://www.peabodyawards.com/award-profile/institutional-award-npact-for-outstanding-overall-efforts-to-bring-meaningf.
119 Jarvik, PBS, Behind the Screen, 112. Lehrer continued, “So for the record let me say…Thank you, Nixon. Thank you, Messrs. Liddy and Hunt, Dean and Colson, Haldeman and Ehrlichman. We could not have done it without you.”
120 PBS, “History,” PBS NewsHour, accessed June 30, 2017, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/about/history.
123 Clarence Petersen, “Public TV Compromise Offers Slim Hope,” Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/170393242?accountid=12084.
133 Prepared statement before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, delivered August 6, 1974, in Nixon Papers, NAEB, 123. The following is an excerpt from that letter: “We did not, however, urge multi-year appropriations prior to this time, since we felt an obligation to see that public broadcasting was developing in line with the goals of the 1967 Act—to do otherwise would be to set in concrete a system which worked at cross purposes to the intention of that legislation. The Administration’s recognition of this responsibility was interpreted by some as an attempt to dismantle public broadcasting. But we were not quarreling with public broadcasting as envisioned in the 1967 Act. We did object to a fixed schedule, real-time public network controlled and programmed in Washington in a manner that made a sham of meaningful local participation. “Despite these problems, this Administration continued its support for the public broadcasting system, recognizing its contributions as well as its shortcomings. Our funding requests for CPB have increased from $5 million in 1969 to $60 million for 1975. But we rightly withheld support of a long-range, insulated funding plan until the public broadcast system operated with checks and balances adequate to merit long-term funding without intervening Congressional review. “Over the years public broadcasting changed. The structure of the system and the policies of CPB and the Public Broadcasting Service now reflect the importance of a direct and real local station participation in programming decisions at the national level. We have reached the point where insulated funding of the system is not only appropriate, it is essential if public broadcasting is to continue its present course to excellence and diversity.”
135 Les Brown, “Washington: Reprieve for Public Television,” Change 6, no. 7 (September 1974): 44, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40162167. Congress approved the bill, according to Brown, “out of sheer guilt for having created public broadcasting…without making provisions for a permanent means of support.”
136 Engelman, Public Radio and Television, 173. Carolyn Lewis, who joined Jim Lehrer and Paul Duke to cover the House impeachment hearings, made note August 1974 of the high ratings and the discovery that “we Washington reporters were not divorced from the pulse of heartland America, after all.” She wrote, “There is no sense of smug satisfaction among reporters here; only wonder, because for a while we quivered in self-doubt, believing the germ of truth in the assaults on our motives and our veracity.” The Watergate hearings proved that public affairs shows produced on the Northeast Corridor could maintain “a common understanding, a common faith with the rest of the country.” Carolyn Lewis, “In the End, Allies,” New York Times, August 18, 1974.
137 On July 12, Clarence Petersen of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Great strides for public television have always been measured in inches. When that is no longer the case, public television will have sold out. Or else the world will have become a very strange place, no longer populated by humans.” The concern that PBS sold out was an enduring question in its period of success. Clarence Petersen, “‘The Avalanche’ Is Favorable at NPACT,” Chicago Tribune, July 12, 1973, https://search.proquest.com/docview/170405096?accountid=12084.
140 One policy blamed for the prevalence of bland programming was the Station Program Cooperative (SPC) born in April, 1974. The SPC put more power in the hands of local stations, who voted for the national programs that CPB would fund from budget grants. It was created to combat three problems, according to media historian Robert K. Avery: “1. an increasing scarcity of funds for national programming; 2. a need for long-range financing for public broadcasting; and 3. political opposition to a centrally administered public television system.” Robert K. Avery, "PBS's Station Program Cooperative: A Political Experiment." (paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL, April 1975), 1, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED111037.pdf. The advent of the SPC resulted in less daring and more timid programming. That public television produces bland content is a persistent gripe of those on all points of the political compass. Some examples include: Engelman, Public Radio and Television, 172-87; Stuart Alan Shorenstein, “Does Public Television Have a Future?,” Wilson Quarterly 5, no. 1 (Winter 1981): 66-71, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40256043; Patricia Aufderheide, “Public Television and the Public Sphere,” Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8, no. 2 (June 1991): 171-75, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15295039109366789; Laurie Ouellette, Viewers like You?: How Public TV Failed the People (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2002); Jarvik, PBS, Behind the Screen.