I used to joke, during the recent impeachment trials, that if what Donald Trump had done was “worse than Watergate,” as CNN’s Carl Bernstein said over and over again, then perhaps Watergate wasn’t so bad.
At the time, I had a conventional view of the scandal that brought down President Richard M. Nixon — the one taught in history courses, and familiar from All the President’s Men: that due to hubris and paranoia, Nixon had sought to spy on the opposition in an election he won by a landslide, and deserved to go to prison.
That narrative has unraveled slowly over the years, and it is ripped apart in an ongoing ten-part series from the Red Pilled America podcast called “The Fighter,” whose final episode is set to air Sunday.
The producers set out to discover why Hollywood obsessed about Nixon, and the reason is not just that his name has become synonymous with abuses of executive power, but also that he, like Trump, was one of the only Republicans who dared to stand up to the radical left. Even worse: he was also a successful president.
Not that Nixon was a conservative, at least by today’s standards. While he made his name fighting communism, Nixon also gave America price controls, secret wars, and an environmental bureaucracy that continues to frustrate the country’s economic growth. (Reagan, likewise, gave California the California Environmental Quality Act, which had good intentions but has been so abused that it still makes development impossible in a state whose housing, roads, and water infrastructure are half a century out of date.)
But as the Red Pilled America series points out, Nixon was not afraid to stand up to the liberal political and media establishment.
When the country exploded in an inferno of political violence in 1968 — the Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy assassinations; the riots in the inner cities; the growing militancy of the anti-war movement — Nixon provided a stable alternative, promising law and order at home; a peaceful resolution to the Vietnam War abroad; and moderate, New Deal-style policies.
Until Watergate, Nixon was arguably one of the most successful presidents in the history of the country, and won reelection in 1972 by a historic landslide. According to the conventional narrative, he was corrupted by his own success, and his irascible personality.
But the Red Pilled America series — drawing on the detailed research of respected historians and journalists, such as James Rosen — points out that Nixon was also targeted by the military and intelligence services, in a curious foreshadowing of the Trump era.
For example, the Joint Chiefs of Staff actually spied on Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, literally stealing documents from Kissinger’s briefcase, a brazen act of espionage in wartime that, if made public, would have triggered a constitutional crisis.
One cannot help but think of Gen. Mark Milley calling China, behind President Trump’s back, to reassure the communist regime that the U.S. would not attack it; or Milley and retired military leaders trashing Trump as he grappled with the challenge of the 2020 riots.
As for Watergate itself, the break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee may have been an attempt by a rogue senior White House official to cover up his wife’s alleged links to a D.C. prostitution ring, rather than an attempt to spy on the opposition. Perhaps the reason recent conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate have had some resonance is that Watergate investigators did, in fact, uncover clues of sordid conduct that were quietly buried. And the CIA was involved, perhaps deliberately sabotaging the burglary.
When the affair came before Congress, the early testimony in the Senate was presented in closed-door “executive sessions” in which, Red Pilled America notes, witnesses were coached to change their recollections to implicate Nixon and other officials close to him.
Though Nixon enjoyed a semblance of due process that was absent in the Trump impeachments, it is now clear why Democrats were so confident that they did not have to treat Trump with the basic respect afforded to a common criminal: they had done this before.
Viewed in the context of the true history of Watergate, which Red Pilled America meticulously exposes, the attacks on Trump seen eerily familiar — right down to the “overheard” phone conversation that an inebriated junior State Department staffer, David Holmes, claimed he heard between Trump and hapless EU ambassador Gordon Sondland (but did not write down). Similarly, in Watergate, another staffer, Jeb Magruder, claimed he overheard Nixon, through someone else’s telephone, ordering the Watergate break-in.
The question is why the media, the Democratic Party, and the Deep State have struggled to take Trump down as easily as they did Nixon.
Trump, like Nixon, has personality flaws that make him, at times, his own worst enemy. Yet he has withstood years of false accusations and ambitious investigations. He has survived thanks to the presence of alternative, conservative media, which Nixon did not have, but which today provide a counterweight.
That is precisely why Washington, and Silicon Valley, want to destroy us.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.