New Yorker Podcast: How Public Testimony Helped Bring Down the Nixon White

In 1972, Richard Nixon’s political future seemed assured. He was reëlected by one of the highest popular-vote margins in American history, his approval rating was near seventy per cent, and the public wasn’t interested in what newspapers were calling the “Watergate Caper.” But the President’s fortunes began to change when new revelations suggested that he knew about the Watergate break-in and that he had participated in a coverup. In May of 1973, the Senate Watergate Committee hearings were broadcast on television, and millions of Americans tuned in to watch compelling testimony about Nixon’s illegal activities. A narrative emerged, of Nixon as a scheming crook who put his own interests before those of the country. His poll numbers plummeted, his party turned on him, and, in August of 1974, Nixon resigned from the Presidency in disgrace. Thomas Mallon dramatized Nixon’s downfall in his 2012 novel “Watergate.” As Congress again debates the impeachment of a President, Mallon joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the power of a good story to affect the course of political history.

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