Things to remember during the fall pledge drive

>> Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is lame, even by NPR's diminishing standards. Rudin -- whom you might recall comparing Hillary Clinton to Glenn Close's character in Fatal Attraction -- is apparently a master of grotesque analogies.

Since the historical crime of Nixon Minimization is in full effect here, it's worth recalling for a moment that Nixon's attacks on the press were mounted against people -- most notoriously Jack Anderson -- who through actual investigative reporting were discovering facts that proved embarrassing to the administration. When Anderson's "Merry-Go-Round" column disclosed, for instance, that Nixon's justice department had settled an antitrust case against ITT in exchange for a $400,000 campaign contribution, Nixon specifically asked Bob Haldeman if someone couldn't be found to trash Anderson's office and discover the source of the leak. (The source of the reporting for that story, incidentally, was a young journalist by the name of Brit Hume, who worked for Anderson from 1970-72.) As anyone with an ounce of historical memory knows, everyone in Anderson's orbit -- including Hume and Howard Kurtz -- was monitored by the CIA as well as the FBI during the Nixon years. When conventional forms of harassment failed to stop Anderson, and when Nixon concluded (without any proof) that Anderson had blown the cover of a CIA spy, genuine fascists like G. Gordon Liddy were given to understand that Nixon would be pleased if Jack Anderson were somehow assassinated.

The great thing about Nixon, though, is that it always gets worse. Not only did his goons use flagrantly illegal tactics against the press, but they also ruined the lives of innocent government employees whom they suspected of feeding information to Anderson and others. In 1970, after Anderson reported some unflattering details about a Pentagon meeting in which top DoD officials joked about who should be fired before Christmas, Bob Haldeman went after a clerk named Gene Smith, whom he erroneously believed was responsible for the leak. From one of Anderson's books, here's what happened to Smith:

Investigators combed Smith’s neighborhood, knocking on doors, gathering intelligence. Under bright lights, Smith was interrogated by military investigators who badgered him in language laced with obscenities. They behaved like caricatures from a B-grade movie. “Do you know Anderson?” they demanded. “Anderson must be stopped!” they repeated over and over again.

Smith was fired from his job in a phony reduction of force. Debilitated by inflamed ulcers and high blood pressure, he was summoned before a federal grand jury in Norfolk, Virginia. When Smith denied the charges, U.S. Attorney Brian Gettings told Smith that he would nail him either for the illegal taping of the meeting or for perjury.
You'll be stunned to learn that the case against Smith went absolutely nowhere. He didn't get his job back, and nor did he receive an apology from the people who destroyed his career.

Ken Rudin should think about this sort of thing the next time he invokes the memory of Richard Nixon.

. . . Lance Mannion makes a more compelling case for the similarities between Obama and Nixon...

. . . Rudin admits the mistake...


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