tv Our Nixon CNN August 2, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> well, maybe the american public is wrong. i know in my own heart and i know in my own head precisely what i did and why i did it. >> and i know that i made some mistakes. i deeply regret those mistakes. >> as richard nixon's right-hand man he was the one most often recorded on the tapes, and they destroyed him. >> i had the rare privilege for four years serving on the white house staff under one of the greatest presidents. >> chief of staff hr haldeman found guilty on the watergate trial. >> do you regret what happened and what you did? >> oh, sure. the country lost motion, a lot of the good things we were working on in the way of domestic reforms were lost in the mess. you can't help but regret aftermath of that.
a lot of good people had their lives spoiled in the process. >> john finished his statements. he was then returned to the holding room, rather a strange phrase. the holding room gives you an idea they are holding a chemical or bacteria or something. >> john eurlichman, guilty. >> the references to like an era of criminality or like people there were trying to, you know, rape the country of it's democracy, i mean, i just don't see it that way. >> chapin was linked to the watergate case, sabotage of the campaign. >> i don't think you can take
>> that i will faithfully execute the office. >> of president of the united states. >> of president of the united states. >> and will to the best of your ability. >> and will to the best of my ability. >> preserve, protect and defend. >> preserve, protect and defend. >> the constitutional of the united states. >> the constitution of the united states. >> so help you god? >> so help me god. [ applause ] >> the new president was in his office here at the white house at 7:30 this morning before anyone else on his staff and after only about four hours sleep. he's felt for some time he can do this job well and he was eager to get at it. >> president elect nixon today
named another long-term aid hr haldeman served as chief of staff for the nixon campaign. haldeman is the closest thing to an alter ego the president has known for conservative views, crew cut and non-stop video taking. >> it was just an extremely exciting time for all of us. it was terribly hard work and very, very long difficult hours, but it was exciting because you were building something. there was no great trust involved in this and no thought at all of becoming permanently involved in either politics or government. it was, it was the thing i felt would be an interesting experience where i could make a contribution and something that
would be a learning experience and an interesting experience for me. so that's why i did it. >> the white house staff has it evolves, i think you'll find will be smaller than it's been in the past. i know you'll find it will probably be the youngest one in history, certainly one of the youngest. >> also named as a special assistant was another man, 27-year-old dwight chapin. >> you got to keep in mind i was 27 years old at that point, and we had just gone through this campaign, and i was just waiting to see what unfolded. the day i went in and interviewed for the job, and i met this young 35-year-old crew cut guy by the name of bob haldeman and bob laldeman changed my life. i've never laughed as much as when i worked in the nixon white house.
the sense of humor was the leveling factor. things, messes we would find ourselves in or whatever it might be. >> i think a lot of younger staff people here find that he can far excel than in terms of energy and stamina. >> i took a camera on all my trips, a super 8 and i have quite a collection of film. >> john ehrlichman, a lawyer that went on the campaign tour will have an advisory role. >> i think this first year we'll see as basically the time of reform. >> ehrlichman is chief of affairs and under study. >> i was not a nixon person going in, probably if some college friend invited me to go advance for john kennedy, i might have gone.
there were very few illusions about richard nixon, i think, the senior staff as we got into things, a good deal of kind of dry humor about his mannerisms and prejudices but nevertheless, you work for the president of the united states. he's the only president around. you-all elected him. we all worked for him and it's up to us to make it work. >> it was a very unnatural kind of life and you had the feeling you were in the middle of a great big, brilliantly lighted, badly run television show. i was taken a whole movie of this throughout. ♪
i spoke to the advisors, henry, john ehrlichman and haldeman. everyone these days know who henry kissenger is but h.r. haldeman's job is not an easy, tighty one to describe and of the three he's been by his own choice the least visible to the public. he's one of the three to never give an television interview until now. his friends talk of his brilliance, efficiency, telephone dedication to the president and his lack of personal ego or jealousy. people call him cold, arrogant. this interview was filmed a week ago in mr. haldeman's office at the white house. you have no calendar? you really follow the president's day. you're available, as i understand it, from 7:00 in the morning and on and on and on.
what does this do to your personal life? >> well, it poses some problems in it sometimes, but i have fortunately, a very understanding wife and four very interested and understanding children. >> do your sons want you to grow your hair longer? >> i was afraid you would probably ask that. you've probably seen the picture of my sons that we sent out for christmas, but -- because my older son has what i would call very long hair and my younger son has long air. >> they don't look like daddy. >> they don't. i face the fact they are is this in style and i'm out of step in hair styling and i'm afraid they are right and i'm wrong on that one. >> you have said, i'm using one of your owe tapgss again, i often find it fascinating to ponder by what standards history will judge nixon when all the partisan battles are over. well, how do you think he will be judged? >> if he has the opportunity to
move ahead with what he's trying to do, i think there isn't any doubt he'll be judged as one of the great presidents. >> good morning. man is about to launch himself on a trip to the moon. the expectation of landing there. man going to the moon here this morning from this florida complex with the rocket. the rocket will put the men into orbit 115 miles above the earth for 1.5 orbits and then the third stage will put them on their way -- ♪
>> go ahead, mr. president. this is houston. >> hello, neal and buzz, i'm talking to you by telephone from the oval room at the white house and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call made from the white house and as you talk to us from the sea of tranquility, it inspires us to redouble efforts to bring peace and tranquility to earth. for one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this earth are truly one, one in their pride in what you have done. >> armstrong is on the moon, neal armstrong, 38-year-old american standing on the surface of the moon on this july 20th, 1969.
>> that's one small step for man, one giant leap for man kind. >> a typical day for me, haldeman would pick me up around 7:15. the car would get bob, then it would get larry higby, bob's aid and then it would swing by my house and then into the white house. i am responsible for the scheduling and also for the president's daily activities. our thing was a machine, and i knew my place.
it really reflected a lot about richard nixon, the degree to which he wanted things controlled. >> it literally was from 6:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night every day of the week and saturdays and sundays, too. and that pace was unremitting, totally consuming for somebody like me. i was very tough on people feeling that i had to be. there is something about the presidency that i've been ridiculed from my picking up the navy term of zero detects that you have to operate as close to zero defect as you can. and i was not overly concerned with whether people like me as a result of it or not, i was only concerned with the result the president wanted that carried out.
why didn't you burn the tapes? surely you talked about it. >> well, the question came up at one point, should the tapes be destroyed and my strong recommendation was that they should not be destroyed. >> that was a mistake, wasn't it mr. haldeman? >> yes, sir, i would say given what we now know and what happen it was a disastrous thing to have done but there was never a thought that one word of those tapes would be played in public or be played to other people,
and when it got to the point of having to release them or having even to consider the possibility of releasing them, they should have been, in my opinion now, should have been destroyed. >> i had no idea about the taping system. no, no. >> did you ever talk to haldeman about that? >> no, never. >> john, you didn't know about the taping system in the oval office, did you? >> no. >> did it come as a surprise? >> it did. our white house staff was essentially a dysfunctional organization. i think nixon believed that he didn't have to share every piece of information with everybody. listening to the tapes is very revealing because he's talking to others about me, and what i should know and what he didn't want me to know. and he did the same thing with kissenger and a lot of people.
several times i recall his saying to me, don't tell henry. he kept little watertight compartments of information, and it didn't work very well. >> dan rather what has closely observed the nixon presidency reports now on the first year in office. >> in 12 months richard nixon proved himself to be under estimated a political manager to be remembered as a politician like franklin roosevelt. nixon was supremely disciplined. his mind methodical, cautious, given to worry, yes, but never, never let the worries show. control the by ward for every public appearance calculate at non-flamboyance. one year does not make or break any president, a first year does
president nixon's primary focus, person attention was almost totally dedicateed to ending the war on vietnam. he tried to move into the committed areas of welfare reform, some areas of economic reform but the one factor which really totally over rode all of those factors was vietnam. >> i had been in the office in the president's office several
different occasions where he had a hanker chief out and writing notes to parents of the kids that had been killed. so i came from the president was doing the very best he could, and he was trying to end it, and that he -- so i -- i didn't have much compassion for the people in the streets. i respect their right to demonstrate because that's, you know, that's what the country is about. but i mean, i was of the opinion that the demonstrators prolonged the war. they didn't help us get out. they made it worse. and that's just how i view it.
>> good evening. marching behind flags and banners and picket signs demanding peace now, at least 200 thousand jammed the streets in washington today which was the biggest peace demonstration to be held since six years ago. despite the huge crowd no nixon official spoke at the rally or appeared at the capital platform. ♪ last night i had the strangest dream, i never dreamed before ♪ ♪ i dreamed the world would put an end to war ♪ sing it again. ♪ last night i had the strangest dream, i never dreamed before ♪
♪ i dreamed the world had all the things to put an end to war ♪ sing it again. >> what is important is not just that we are here today because we have been here before, you and i. we've been here before, and we've been other places, and what we have to decide is that we're going to keep coming back until this war ends. >> yes.
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good evening, my fellow americans. a few weeks ago i saw demonstrators carrying signs reading, lewds in vietnam -- lose in vietnam, bring the boys home. ai any american has a right to reach that conclusion and advocate that point of view, but as president of the united states, i would be untrue to my oath of office if i allowed the policy of this nation to be indicated by the minority that hold that point of view and try to impose it on the nation by amounting demonstrations in the street. so tonight, to you, the great silent majority on my fellow americans, i ask for your support.
i pledged in my campaign for the presidency to end the war in a way that we could win the peace. i have pledged to you tonight that i shall meet this responsibility with all of the strength and wisdom i can command in accordance with your hopes, mindful of your concerns, sustained by your prayers. thank you and good night.
>> i understand i'm supposed to make a surprise announcement. [ laughter ] >> the difficulty is that every time i'm supposed to make a surprise announce the, i find someway it's leaked before i get to make it. even though the information may have leaked out, until i say it, it's not official. >> and so tonight, mrs. nixon and i are very honored to announce the engagement of our daughter tricia to mr. edward cox of new york. [ applause ] ♪
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>> a partial text of a prepared study in the pentagon relating to the origins of american involvement in vietnam. five days later, the washington post began publishing excerpts from the same pentagon report. on june 22, "the boston globe" published additional material from the study. the documents printed in the papers were classified, and were not to be made public according to the government. ♪
♪ [ applause ] >> the pentagon report is only the beginning in itself. there will be much more. temptation will be great for a witch hunt, the unmasking of villains and the manufacture of scapegoats. >> the president was furious. kissinger was furious. it was very intense. it was a little like walking on egg shells. it was just a tense, tense time. >> the irony of the pentagon
papers is they were not critical of nixon. they were very critical of the johnson administration. but nixon was committed to the proposition that classified documents, secret documents ought not to be stolen and given away. some of these documents did get into the hands of foreign governments, as well as part of them getting into the papers, and the president and kissinger were very upset that this map would be doing these kinds of things. >> you were so mad at elsberg, this dirty guy. i don't have to tell you or anyone else that the anger and the resentment toward elsberg was near hysterical levels in the white house. >> this didn't develop into any pathological hatred of elsberg, but a rather cold blooded and in my view, a misguided attempt to discredit him in the public eye. because at the time, he was being made a public hero and there was an effort to try to show that this man was not
necessarily the great savior of the nation that many were portraying him as. >> i think changed during the time i was at the white house. i'm not sure whether it was for the better. it probably was not at the time that i was there. when you first go in, at least when i first went in there, i asked a lot of hard questions. why are we doing it this way? what is the justification for this program? why are we spending this money? why does this fellow work here? those kinds of things.