tv Book Discussion on The Last of the Presidents Men CSPAN November 22, 2015 10:00pm-11:16pm EST
throughout his career he has tended to be skeptical about economics of any sort. he tends, one of the interesting things they address is the oil shop which most scholars think he underestimated but so he was suggesting that i was a material girl? is that what you are saying? it's odd for a man who was a secretary of state and national security advisor to use the word american in that way. it was that argument he makes
>> to commit more crimes with glee and relishes every death this caricature monster figure is something you can get past and the way to do that i thought was for all of humanity including the teenage jinxed that was part of the story to give them the motivation and that is the story of a relentless drive to be involved in the policy-making process.
as part of the evil genius the machiavellian he frequently blunders but he makes a whole series of mistakes. but with this demonic doctor evil figure. >> host: the final question. you have access to reams of documents, letters riyals though interviewed kissinger extensively. >> guest: there are quite a few reports from the interviews but relative to
those documents with that total source material so that was an important background to me so a lot of that material in fact, it appeared after 1968. >> host: was the gnashing his teeth? >>. >> guest: and the young life that is rendered with maximum accuracy of the page can be a little taken aback for things that turns up in a hands of the historians and from that he is probably quite normal for my first 46
what the subtitle of the volume will be. >> host: thank you. >> as a former staffer myself it is a treat to introduce bob woodward. i first met him when i entered at the post in the summer of 1974 so of course, when president nixon resigned and it is really quite remarkable to look back for decades to see that
as the onetime head for bob but the takeoff point which has turned out to be one of the most phenomenal careers in the history of journalism. "the last of the president's men" en his latest book is number 18 and just like the previous 17 is a national best seller. i think he holds the record for the most number one nonfiction bestsellers of any author. his ability to get people to talk than reveal things never before disclosed is legendary. as someone who has on occasion reported in his wake i have heard again and again from sources who were interviewed by bob how extensively he prepares and how hard he pushes and probes. like a number of other
colleagues, i have benefited from his guidance and and found inspiration in his perseverance with his investigative talents he to be truly generous with his time and vice many of us were quite appreciative that the post that he remained on the staff contributing to the paper when he could have chosen a number of other career paths. it is also especially fitting we should be holding this event here where bob has come to know well through his daughter diana who graduated from here last spring bob and his wife to have been big supporters of the school and we are honored as commencement speakers last june. so i will move over to that chair to spend some time talking to bob about his book then he will take some questions.
>> gordon liddy would know how to do this. [laughter] how many people know who that is? [laughter] inexperienced crowd. >> it's been 41 years since you and bernstein, now with all the president's men that chronicled though watergate scandal and your new book "the last of the president's men" take should back to
that period but this time it goes through the eyes of alexander butterfield who served as a deputy chief of staff during the first years of the nixon administration. my first question is after it was acknowledged a decade ago to do you think you're done reporting on watergate? [laughter] >> guest: release this is not on watergate but it is on nixon and he is the central character in there has been so many books written on him to decode him that yes, i thought i was done but then i ran into a alexander butterfield who is now 89 and has a better
memory than you and i. it is astonishing. i ran into him for years ago encumbrance and said nixon you are in washington and let's get together so he called a and we went off for a day and it sounded like he had a few interesting stories. "the washington post" gives me a limited time quite frankly so when i was in california i said i will stop by. do you have any documents? he said i have a few. i went into his a .1 dash apartment and there are 20 boxes most people leave the white house and i have a theory there is a box in the
attic but not 20. it was a data treasure trove and there were originals we did not know about. and my sister went out to start looking and there went for more interviews that i said to my wife let's go to california for a fun weekend to la jolla. [laughter] to look at documents. what butterfield had he was in the white house 50 months and kept a chronological filed each month on onionskin paper and we would sit there and thumb through them and elsa more methodically danite and she
said this is not just a newspaper story it is a small book and this is the result. >> host: was it legal for him to remove all those documents? is there a statute of limitations? >> guest: my lawyer would say don't answer that question of. [laughter] but i will. i have done this for so many decades you want to be careful with documents that our sensitive a lot of these were codeword top-secret documents but if they really tell you something new and you check with the authorities will this do real harm to national security, which you always did, right? there is a tradition of
checking and if they are sensitive to show to the extent that nixon and kissinger launder their memoirs you could say there is a document quoted from january 22nd to end as some of the same quotes in the documents that i have the look at the things that they left out. it pushes me to that question of how good it is history? and the more you dig into where he realizes it is not as good as it should be and if the historical facts are not correct than the historical and just the ending is reduced the nixon
and kissinger were up to a lot of things and a full portrait of nixon emerges. >> host: you say it in your book in a better feel papers that there is a failure to tellable whole story of when vietnam and maybe it is time for a fresh examination of the entire record in light of the substantial efforts to distort the record. is sounds like good job for bob. [laughter] >> guest: there are so many documents i called the library of congress while during this research because there is of particular memo that we should talk about to see if they had it because kissinger's documents are in the library of congress and
i said kidd newtonian, a kia and you tell me? he said there 1 million documents. he said can you imagine? >> hopefully someone has been given access. >> as the first volume from 1968 called the idealist. >> this is the mad magazine edition. [laughter] >> host: back to butterfield you tried all the working on watergate to reach butterfield you tried
knocking on his door. >> and there was up peak from the drapes in the living room. >> host: ben did you forget about him? >> guest: i did not try it again and i should be faulted for that then nixon's council made the allegations against nixon in the senate watergate committee was trying to find out if there was something to verify or to review to ayatollah people on the staff that you ought to talk to butterfield because the knicks in committee treasurer said that butterfield was in charge of internal security with the
work that was used for wiretapping so they called him and to it is a psychodrama of powell butterfield did not want to come forward as a volunteer but if they ask a direct question he would say yes there was a secret taping system. >> host: he gives you credit actually. >> guest: naturally she said you figured me. [laughter] >> host: day you agree with that? >> perhaps not.
>> host: the time butterfield thought he would tell his own story in the nineties he had a contract with the publisher and the project did not go anywhere. >> he had hundreds of pages but it didn't get into the nixon white house until chapter seven and somehow like all people thought his life was interesting until he got to that moment at the white house so the publisher said no. >> host: so why now? >> guest: i'm not sure he did. so going through documents there was never a signed agreement and i'm 72 not 89
i think if you're 89 you realize that these documents should be told so he is seated do you tell my story story, he didn't read the book to tell the was published in print and relinquished control. i said i cannot do this that this is my research and the context of other information >> host: you spent more than 40 hours. what is he like other than amazing memory? >> guest: he looks younger
than i do. he is an honest witness because soon as book he talked-about his own failings where nixon says put him in the secret service detail of teddy kennedy. nixon ordered this and butterfield said yes, sir. and did it he was parked of the internal security job. with the secret service headquarters who had been in the secret service and to
put him in their innate spy and then said i will do anything for you and butterfield to this day feels remorse because he knows he could have been indicted for clear abuse of government. >> host: that shows up on the tape. he feels conflicted in number of ways. >> guest: the best witness that has said good memory has written a memoir that is a published with thousands of documents. >> anybody else out there? >> you said earlier like taking a risk it is the last
of the president's men. >> we had formal interviews on tape with anybody wants restaurant recommendations i can give them to you. [laughter] the particularly to the do not go to west. >> host: but to the portrait of the president of someone who was quite strange and abscessed to make it duplicitous and scheming tough if but it is
and then to have removal of more combat troops from vietnam. with the commander-in-chief the other strategy so what you do when 1972? of those 1.1 million tons to kill thousands of people than you connect the dots with the other documents and tapes as nixon and kissinger talked about how popular the bombing was.
their rage he expresses these were not on tape from the york and is almost to the element that nobody asked me to the prom. it he is just on fire about it. i think it is true. do you? not one stage of our lives publishes without leaving a trace. >> it is a challenge no one should go into the voting booth next year to say that
journalism did not provide the basics the best that you can. the of the internet culture that we have to go the other way. >> host: to other questions then we go to the audience. with regard to their fields disclosure so what motivated him and after all these years with his feelings d.c. any lessons in his experience that might find themselves severally challenged to reveal
[laughter] [inaudible] >> what actor would portray you now? >> battle think that what happened. [laughter] speesix so just take one. donald trump. [laughter] , a people want the next president to be somebody who is totally out of touch with reality? to deport "the last of the president's men" million people? does anybody have any chance
said i will be impeached in the house so how many votes do i have of the senate? twenty? that goldwater said mr. president you only have four and one of them is not mine. nixon announced it is resignation the next day. every member of the house judiciary committee said they will vote to impeach nixon was 40 or 42 people. so he crossed a couple little constitutional and
of what the city put up to say this is where the meetings took place. [inaudible] >> and colleagues that wanted to expose that in those that wanted to interview him extensively. i don't think there are questions that have not necessarily ben asked. there is a big debate going on about the significance of
i would work the police beat then come in and do stories during the day. with the authorities and the liberation to find a good story. and the truth is emerging to slowly. and without watergate burglary who would be dumb enough to come into work this morning? and my name came up to the top of the list. [laughter] so they called me. that was just kind of being the guy run the office i
dunno if you agree with as -- and this but reporters have the best job in this country because we get to make momentary entries into people's lives when they are interesting. and when they cease to be. if you are a lawyer or run a bookstore you have to deal with the routine. but did you ever come into the newsroom and have the editors say go find something boring? no. that is the impact in people's lives that is a great job.
nixon called and said only five. but i want to talk to. butterfield and nixon is in black tie. to be in the air force colonels to be called the social age with junior officers who said now your job is to spot arnold palmer's you had seen him on television right? but the president wants to do talk to him in and 70 has the other four people then they build of the wall with
the chief military to give the elbow to the other people but of course, no one knew this the next day of how the dinner had gone that i will with that dinner do you know, how long it took the waiters? ten minutes. too long. and butterfield said i am not doing my job. i can't get out the salad. [laughter] so the minuet was by people
>> i have talked to him he feels he had a lot of people call him up to say why didn't you tell me? [laughter] and i was up earlier in the week at harvard to do the forum like this with david to worked for nixon the one who had a question session and a student came up the first person in line said i.m. butterfield grandson perc craft.
>> and wishing you there were 20 boxes. that would have been a great paper. [laughter] and is convinced he did the right thing that part of the story to look to those multiple motives to say can i interview your ex-wife? now that goes into dangerous territory and he said yes. but what you think about the tapes? she said i know he wanted to
tell and to better field credit he said i will let it stand. and she said he did not like nixon and was mad at him and was bringing back home. this is one of the of pivot points of history if that was not disclosed then there is gm. one of the initial investigators with the subcommittee in 1972 and could never tell us anything by the way.
knowledge he never says what would be right for the country? what does the country need? what would be good for the people. it was always about nixon. it was always about using the presidency is in instrument of personal revenge and reward. that is the corruption and the criminality, and now this portrait, and particularly in vietnam. how many people -- yesterday i was at the army war college in carlisle pennsylvania speaking to 400 speaking with colonels were there at the school and one of the custom questions i asked them, and this is the best in
the u.s. army who are going to be general someday -- i said how many of you think the vietnam war made sense? there there were six hands that went up. they will never make general. [laughter] but, six hands. vietnam, in our history and culture it is in agony in this country. to discover that the commander-in-chief was bombing the crap out of a country and people and continued this war is
something that i -- like i said i was in the navy in the 60s, this was unthinkable. it is not as bad as watergate because nothing is going to be as bad as watergate. it is a moral failing that is really significant to understand because we get into wars and we have seen presidents and wars recently who, i did four books on george w. bush's wars and the politics enters and why did we have that war, do we get out of it, can we get out of it? when i did a book on obama and i went to see him and interview him, i asked him about war and gave him a quote from a book
that rick atkins had done and just as war corrupts everyone in stains every heart. obama says if you -- read my nobel prize acceptance speech. while i had seen seen it, i had read it. i if you have ever seen something and read something and not understood it, that's me. and i went back and read it and there it is he says were sometimes necessary but it is always an expression of manifestation in human following. we have had a lot of wars -- anyway, as you can see i think this is something that we have to understand and face up to and that whoever's commander-in-chief next needs to really comprehend and understand
that history and have some experience with it in some form. >> i'm sure he will we could continue to talk but we are out of time. i want to ask one last question about -- i know you don't like to talk about what you are up to next, we did not find out even the title of this book until a few weeks before it came out. can you at least say whether you will continue writing books? >> yes, i suspect so. as i was saying it is a wonderful life. there are lots of things that we just don't know enough about, i am swimming against the internet culture of give me a summary, so
there are plenty of things to do you ask people and you hear people, what should we worry about? wars, the economy, we were talking about any quality earlier, you and i. healthcare, global warming, and if we had a board and would say that let's put them all it would go on and on. my answer to that question is, the thing we should worry about more the most is secret government. all of of the other things are giant problems. but we can tackle them. if government gets more and more secret and more and more inaccessible to citizens, the
judge who said it got it right, democracy has died in darkness. if you look at history that is true. you think of libya, saddam hussein, iraq, assad, the ayatollahs, or pollutant, in the 1980s i went to libya, the foreign minister who i got to know had arranged for me to interview qaddafi. i had written about the reagan administration, plan to covertly overthrow him, so i went to libya and the security people kept me waiting in some god awful hotel for a couple of days. i thought, i'm not doing this. i alluded the handlers and security and went down into
tripoli about the university and just asked people, what is going on here? they said zero you should've been here friday. qaddafi sent security forces into the main square of the university and erected gallows, 11 gallows to hang to the death 11 students. their alleged crime, knowing about or participating in the writing of anti- qaddafi slogans on the wall. that is pretty dire and ugly. things turned. if we don't have a free press and if we are