|Intl. Notebook||Sep 25 2010|
When is a fluff piece not a fluff piece? When the Police Gazette publishes it.
In this September 1972 issue of The National Police Gazette editors tell us all about the hidden horrors of vasectomies, how to make money playing craps in Las Vegas, and how to get rich in the nudist camp business. But of particular interest, to us at least, is the article on H.R. Haldeman, who is referred to as Richard Nixon’s hatchet man on the White House staff. It’s a curious designation timing-wise, because the general public was by now aware that several men connected to Nixon’s staff had broken into Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. The first set of indictments against the five burglars, as well as G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, Jr., would come down from a grand jury two weeks after The Gazette hit newsstands.
Their Haldeman profile amounts to a sort of fluff piece, wherein his meanness is extolled as a virtue, but the story also has the effect of telling the Gazette’s vast readership that Haldeman is the man to point fingers at for Nixon’s mounting difficulties. Example: “You may not see him [snip] but Harry Robert Haldeman is there, behind the scenes, pulling the strings…” And later: “Organization is Haldeman’s talent and he knows how to use that talent. President Nixon will be its beneficiary.” Haldeman describes himself thusly: “I guess the term ‘sonofabitch’ fits me.” Never in the annals of 20-20 hindsight has someone looked so much like a fall guy. Haldeman, of course, was a major player in Watergate, but the timing of such an article, in America’s oldest magazine, in which Haldeman paints a target on his own back, is curious to say the least.
By the beginning of 1973 the strings were unraveling at the White House and Nixon was in full ass-coverage mode. In April he asked for and received H.R. Haldeman’s resignation, along with that of John Erlichman. Eventually, Haldeman went to prison, where he served eighteen months for obstruction of justice and conspiracy. Richard Nixon managed to ride out the scandal for two years, but finally resigned in August 1974. Haldeman of course wrote a book about Watergate, and in it he shed some light on what had happened, and who had failed. But he also made it clear that he had few regrets: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind today that if I were back at the starting point, faced with the decision of whether to join up, even knowing what the ultimate outcome would be, I would unhesitatingly do it.”
WatergatePolice GazetteRichard NixonH. R. HaldemanG. Gordon LiddyE. Howard Hunt Jr.John Erlichmantabloid