04: Frost/Nixon

Eight years ago, in 2008, Ron Howard directed the Oscar-nominated retelling of what are still the most popular political interviews to ever air on national TV. Frost/Nixon tells the story of 12 interviews performed by British talk-show host David Frost with the former President Nixon. The interviews were performed three years after Nixon had made history by becoming the first United States president — and only president — to ever resign from office. Then, in the interviews, Nixon did something else a president never does — admit guilt on national TV.

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Transcript

Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things better in the audio.

In 1969, Republican Richard M. Nixon became President Nixon at the age of 56. He took office in the middle of the Vietnam War, a bloody conflict that ended up lasting almost 20 years. For years, the war Nixon’s primary focus as he worked to improve relations with the Soviet Union and China — two superpowers supporting the Vietnamese in the war.

While the war and other issues certainly took priority, as with all politicians as soon as he was elected Nixon started to work on his re-election effort — four years later.

As Nixon was settling into the White House, David Frost was settling into a new home of his own. Frost was just coming off major success in Britain with his TV show, That Was the Week That Was, which was commonly abbreviated to TW3.

TW3 was a political satire show, sort of like The Daily Show or The Cobert Report on Comedy Central in the United States. Actually, while TW3 was the rise of fame for its host, Frost had his own show — The Frost Report — which he hosted for a short time after TW3 went off the air.

Host David Frost made a name for himself making fun of politics. And he did a great job at it. Half comedian, half journalist — full-time talk-show host and a wonderful performer.

The Plumbers Unit

In 1969, Frost moved from the UK to America, to start a new show called Frost on America. His salary of 125,000 pounds — or about $350,000 in today’s U.S. dollars — was the most for any British personality in America.

And so it went for a few years — President Nixon, leader of the free world, and David Frost living two completely separate lives. While Frost was interviewing celebrities like Jack Benny and Muhammad Ali on his show, Nixon was shaking hands with people like Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., a timeline of events was about to unfold that would spark one of the greatest political scandals of all time.

On September 3, 1971, a band of men snuck into a psychiatrist’s office in the dead of night to steal paperwork on a man named Daniel Ellsberg. These men were nicknamed the Plumbers Unit because they were responsible for plugging leaks in the President’s administration.

You see, Ellsberg had leaked what’s now referred to as the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times.  They exposed the United States’ political and military involvement in Vietnam all the way back to 1945, just after World War II.

These papers sparked controversy because they exposed the fact that the United States had been conducting bombings in more than just Vietnam. Under cover of the Vietnam War, the U.S. was bombing the nearby countries of Cambodia and Laos, as well as some other coastal raids and attacks that the U.S. never disclosed.

These certainly weren’t on the scale of the leaks we’ve seen in recent years by Edward Snowden, but like Snowden today, the U.S. charged Ellsberg with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property.

So that’s the leak the Plumbers Unit was trying to plug for Nixon. And they probably would’ve gotten away with it, too. We never would’ve known about the Plumbers Unit and its cover-up.

Well, we do know about this cover-up at least. We know about it because of events that appear to be pure chance.

Understanding the Watergate scandal

It was just after midnight on a typical June day when Frank Wills, a security guard at a plush hotel in downtown Washington D.C. noticed tape covering door latches on some of the doors near the underground parking garage. The tape let the doors close but kept them from locking like they should when they closed.

Wills removed the tape and locked the doors. He didn’t think anything of it and continued his rounds.

About an hour later, he made his way back to one of the doors he had taken the tape off of earlier. There was tape on it again.

That’s when Wills called the police.

On June 17th, 1972, three plain-clothes officers responded to Wills’ call and happened to catch the five men in the Plumbers Unit off guard inside the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which took up one of the floors of the Washington D.C hotel.

That hotel’s name?  Watergate.

Immediately, it was clear this wasn’t just a normal break-in. The Washington Post broke the news to the public in what would start a flurry of articles from a secret informant — someone codenamed Deep Throat — who had inside details on the Nixon administration. The Post had an article on the next day, June 18th, describing the break-in.

“Police said the men had with them at least two sophisticated devices capable of picking up and transmitting all talk, including telephone conversations. In addition, police found lock-picks, door jimmies, almost $2,300 in cash, most of it in $100 bills with the serial numbers in sequence.

The men also had with them one walkie-talkie, a shortwave receiver that could pick up police calls, 40 rolls of unexposed film, two 35 millimeter cameras, and three pen-sized tear gas guns.

Near where they were captured were two open file drawers, and one national committee source conjectured that the men were preparing to photograph the contents.”

The five men, one of whom claimed to be a former CIA agent, were apparently trying to bug the DNC’s offices. But they obviously had been provided plenty of high-tech gear — not to mention the $100 with sequential serial numbers … you don’t just get that on the street.

The day after The Washington Post’s first article came out, they published yet another one identifying one of the burglars as a GOP security aide. This raised some eyebrows, and people turned to the Nixon re-election campaign offices for answers.

But John Mitchell, a former attorney general who was then in charge of Nixon’s re-election campaign, denied any link to the operation. So if it wasn’t the Nixon campaign, who was it?

And the plot thickens

Because there was wiretapping found, the FBI was called in to investigate. This might seem like a third-party investigation until you find out that the FBI’s Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray, who had been appointed by Nixon earlier in 1972 when former Director J. Edgar Hoover died in his sleep.

Gray, along with his close friend, Mark Felt were heavily involved in the investigation. While Nixon knew he had Gray in the bag, he wasn’t too sure about Felt. In a conversation that would come to light years later, on June 23rd, 1972, White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman is heard telling Nixon that Felt in the FBI would cooperate with the White House because Felt is ambitious.

With just a few short months until the next Presidential election in November of 1972, investigations continued.

On August 1st, The Washington Post published another story with more findings. Apparently a $25,000 cashier’s check had somehow found its way into the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars. The check’s source? It had been earmarked by the Nixon campaign.

Another Post story on September 29th exposed that John Mitchell, who had denied any involvement earlier, had actually been controlling a secret Republican fund to finance widespread intelligence-gathering operations against the Democrats.

A couple weeks after this story broke, on October 10th, the FBI came out as saying the Watergate break-in was just the tip of the iceberg. The Nixon campaign was spying and conducting sabotage as part of Nixon’s re-election efforts.

On November 7th, 1972, President Richard Nixon won one of the largest landslide victories in American political history. He took more than 60% of the vote, effectively demolishing the Democratic nominee, the very aptly-named Sen. George McGovern.

Despite his re-election, the Watergate break-in was still under investigation. On January 14th, 1973, the trial began for seven men who were charged with connections to the break-in. Among these seven were two men who were former aides to President Nixon, these men were named G. Gordon Liddy and James W. McCord, Jr.

The other five men didn’t need the jury to convict them — they plead guilty on their own. But Liddy and McCord didn’t. So with more than 100 pieces of evidence against them, it took only sixteen days of trials with 60 witnesses to convince the jury — who only needed 90 minutes to reach their guilty verdict.

On January 27th, Liddy and McCord were found guilty of all charges against them.

Meanwhile, on April 27th, Gray is forced to resign as Acting Director of the FBI after it came to light that he’d destroyed a file that was in a White House safe. He was covering something up for the White House.

On his way out, Gray suggested to Nixon that Felt take his place, but Nixon still wasn’t sure if he trusted Felt. So he appointed some he could trust – the former first head of the EPA, a man by William Ruckelshaus.

Nixon distances himself by promising to find the guilty

Three days later, on April 30th, Nixon addressed the American people through a special television address. He said, “There can be no whitewash at the White House” and went on to accept full responsibility for the actions of his staff — but never admitted any guilt himself. In fact, the way he positioned it was that it was something his staff hatched, and he knew nothing about.

So, as he told the American public, just 10 hours before the TV broadcast he accepted the resignation of those responsible for Watergate — top White House staff. H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst. While he didn’t resign, the President also announced firing John W. Dean III, a man that Nixon had put in charge of investigating the Watergate scandal.

It would appear that Nixon was clearing the White House of anyone involved in the Watergate scandal. In the process of replacing the men who had left, Nixon promised to “uncover the whole truth” about Watergate.

To show his administration’s attempts to get to the bottom of the Watergate scandal, President Nixon appointed Archibald Cox as Special Prosecutor. Cox’s role was to help the Senate’s Watergate Committee with the investigation.

And so the investigation continued, with the White House supposedly cooperating fully.

Almost a full year after the men were found inside the Watergate Hotel, on June 13th, 1973, the Watergate prosecutors found a memo addressed to one of the men who resigned, John Ehrlichman. In the memo was a detailed description of the break-in to Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist nearly two years before.

On the same day, a former presidential secretary by the name of Alexander Butterfield gave his testimony to Congress and admitted that President Nixon has tape recordings of all of the conversations and phone calls in his offices — and has since 1971.

While the prosecutors certainly didn’t know it at the time, history now tells us that five days after Butterfield’s testimony, Nixon ordered the White House taping system be disconnected.

The revelation that everything was recorded would be a massive help to the investigation. Although it seemed a bit odd that the White House hadn’t let the prosecutors know about this fact. After all, they had promised to uncover the truth. They had promised to cooperate.

Something wasn’t right.

And the suspicions only got worse when, on July 23rd, after officially being requested to turn over the tapes to either the Senate’s Watergate Committee or the President’s own Special Prosecutor — President Nixon refused.

Nixon fakes innocence by firing staff

Three months later, on October 20th, there were more political casualties in the scandal. In one night, which came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre, President Nixon got rid of many of the men who had just been put in place just a few months earlier.

Attorney General Elliot Richardson, who had replaced the Attorney General, who had resigned over Watergate in April, and William Ruckelshaus, who had left the FBI to be a Deputy Attorney General, both resigned. At the same time, President Nixon forced Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox out of office by firing him. He then went one step further and abolished the position of Special Prosecutor altogether, effectively stopping the White House’s cooperation in the investigation.

As part of this event which The Washington Post at the time called “the most traumatic government upheaval of the Watergate crisis,” Nixon ordered the FBI to close off the offices of the men who were leaving. No one could take anything out of the offices of Richardson, Ruckelshaus or Cox.

The entire country, captivated by the events as they were unfolding, couldn’t help but wonder what it was that Nixon didn’t want taken out of the offices.

While his administration clearly had some corruption going on, Nixon himself kept declaring his own innocence. On November 17th, Nixon was interviewed on TV by 400 members of the Associated Press. Through this hour-long event, Nixon answered questions about Watergate and whether or not he’s profited from his public service. His answer was, “I have earned every cent. And in all my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice.” Another question spawned a similar answer, “People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”

Nixon went on to promise to let investigators have access to his personal finances, personal documents, and tapes to help the investigation. Again, Nixon promises to cooperate with the investigation.

And he did so it would seem.

The Nixon administration finally turns over tapes

A few days before the interview, Nixon turned over some of the tapes, claiming the tapes would prove he had no knowledge of the Watergate incident.

Finally getting access to some of — but not all of — the tapes, investigators started pouring through them.

One area of particular interest was a meeting that Nixon had with former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman. It was a meeting that took place on June 20th, 1972 — three days after the men at Watergate were caught.

This conversation was specifically mentioned by former Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who said, “there is every reason to infer that the meeting included discussion of the Watergate incident.”

While the investigators were pouring through the tapes, Nixon was still answering questions about Watergate just about everywhere he went. At the Republican Governors Association meeting in Memphis, he was asked if the GOP would be hit with any more bombshells in the Watergate case.

His reply: “If there are any more bombs, I’m not aware of them.”

The next day, another bomb hit.

What’s wrong with the recording?

Something wasn’t right with the tapes. Something was missing.

Eighteen and one-quarter minutes of the meeting were gone. It wasn’t completely blank. On either end of the missing portion, you could hear Nixon and Haldeman talking. Then for 18 minutes and fifteen seconds, there was an audible tone — but no conversation could be heard. Someone had obviously tampered with the tapes.

White House special counsel J. Fred Buzhardt said Nixon knew about the missing section of tape because he had been made aware of it shortly after it was discovered on November 14th.

The investigators turned to the White House for answers in a federal hearing.

President Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, testified that it took her nearly 30 hours to transcribe the two-and-a-half-hour meeting because the quality was bad – but she didn’t notice any long, blank spots.

Then Chief of Staff Alexander Haig gave what is perhaps one of the most intriguing testimonies about the missing portion.

Haig was giving testimony in the hearing when Judge Sirica, who was overseeing the hearing, asked about the missing portion. Haig discussed the possibility that, “perhaps there had been one tone applied by Miss Woods…and then perhaps some sinister force had come in and applied the other energy source and taken care of the information on that tape.”

“Has anyone ever suggested who that sinister force might be?” Judge Sirica asked.

Haig answered, “No, your Honor.”

And so it would seem that 18 minutes and 15 seconds of tape had gone missing thanks to a “sinister force” of unknown origins. You can see why this sort of scandal was gripping the American public, but also why Americans started to call for Nixon’s impeachment.

On April 30th, 1974, the White House released 1,254 pages of transcripts from meetings that had been secretly taped in the White House. These documents were explosive — another bombshell going off. They contained over 200,000 words and exposed revelations about the President’s role in Watergate.

The White House claimed these documents were proof of the President’s innocence. In an official statement, the White House summarized the papers saying:

“In all of the thousands of words spoken, even though they often are unclear and ambiguous, not once does it appear that the President of the United States was engaged in a criminal plot to obstruct justice.”

But even these documents had been edited. Prosecutors kept insisting that the original tapes needed to be turned over. Their reasoning wasn’t that they distrusted the White House, but rather that they wanted to verify the truth of the White House’s statements independently.

House Speaker Carl Albert, a Democrat, summarized the response to the document’s release.

“Why substitute other evidence when the direct evidence is available?” Albert said, referencing the direct evidence — the actual tapes themselves.

From there, things unraveled quickly.

The beginning of the end for President Nixon

On July 24th, the United States Supreme Court rejected the president’s claim of executive privilege and ruled unanimously that Nixon must turn over unedited tape recordings of 64 White House conversations.

Three days later, the House Judiciary Committee passed the first of three articles needed to impeach President Nixon on charges of obstruction of justice.

Twelve days later, on August 8th, 1974, President Richard Milhouse Nixon became the first and only United States president to resign from office.

Nixon addressed the nation saying, “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”

But Nixon never admitted guilt. In fact, in his final speech as President of the United States, Nixon never even mentioned the Watergate incident. Shortly after his address, House Judiciary Committee Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski, who was working on the Watergate scandal, issued a statement saying:

“there has been no agreement or understanding of any sort between the President or his representatives and the special prosecutor relating in any way to the President’s resignation.”

One month after his resignation, the new President Gerald Ford issued a full and unconditional pardon to Richard Nixon for any crimes he might have committed against the United States while President.

President Ford claimed the pardon, which was very controversial at the time, was because he wanted to end the scandal once and for all.

But it wasn’t a very satisfying ending. The country still wanted to know the truth they had been promised time and time again by the White House. Now it appeared no one would ever know the truth.

Until, it would seem, David Frost stepped up to give the American people what no one else could.

Frost eyes Nixon as an interview target

As we learned earlier, Frost had moved to the United States at the same time as Nixon took office for his first term. While Frost wasn’t really politically motivated himself, he did have a history of political satire in Britain, so it made perfect sense that Frost would take an interest in the ripe pickings of the Watergate debacle.

Now a former president, Nixon had been offered $2.3 million dollars by Warner Books to write his memoirs. That’s about $9.3 million in today’s dollars.

Even though Nixon wasn’t president anymore, he still had lawyers and various other aides on his payroll — a cost that wasn’t cheap. Three years after his resignation, Nixon found himself running low on funds and with the memoirs still far from being complete, Nixon needed some quick cash.

So Frost jumped at the opportunity. In the movie, Nixon negotiated a handsome sum of $600,000, or about $2.4 million in today’s dollars, in exchange for a series of exclusive interviews with David Frost. In truth, some people remember it differently, and there are conflicting reports on how the negotiations went. Whether Frost offered $600,000 up front or Nixon negotiated his way to the amount, that is the number that was agreed on. Although the movie didn’t mention that Nixon also negotiated a 20% share in any of the profits the interviews would generate.

Just like in the movie Frost/Nixon, it was Nixon’s chief of staff Jack Brennan, played by Kevin Bacon in the movie, who worked with Frost to negotiate the terms of the interviews. Brennan was convinced Frost, who had a background of political satire, would be an easy interview for the former President Nixon — someone who had spent much of his presidency being hounded by questions about Watergate.

This would be easy.

The movie was right when they set up the event as not a single interview, but rather as a series of 12 separate interviews. Although in the movie the interviews appeared to happen somewhat sporadically and without a clear indication of the overall schedule.

The interviews begin

The first interview took place on March 23rd, 1977, with three interviews happening per week over a four-week period. Each interview was two hours long. So for two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for four weeks, David Frost interviewed former President Nixon for what would end up being 28 hours and 45 minutes.

In the movie, the interviews took place in the Smith home because Nixon’s home had issues with interference. This part of the movie is true.

The radar from Coast Guard ships stationed near Nixon’s house in San Clemente, California, interfered with the TV relay equipment used by Frost’s production company that was taping the interviews.

Nixon thought he could get rid of it since the Coast Guard had always moved their ships when he had asked them to when he was president. Making a phone call, it was apparent he didn’t hold the power he once did. The ships didn’t move.

Looking for another place to record the interviews, Mr. Harold H. Smith and Mrs. Martha Lea Smith, who were both longtime supporters of Nixon, offered their home. One of Frost’s production crew visited the Smith’s 3,667 square-foot home to see if it’d work for the interviews.

With 40 film crew members, Martha Smith would later recall the primary reason for the Frost crew picking her home. It was the bathroom. The first thing the crew asked Mrs. Smith was to see where the bathroom was located. Someone went in and flushed the toilet. It was quiet.

“That settled it,” Smith recalled. With so many working on the interviews, it would be unavoidable that someone would need to use the restroom during the interviews. But they only had one shot at the interviews so they couldn’t let a flushing toilet ruin them.

The Smiths rented out their home for four weeks for $6,000 to David Frost for the interviews.  That’s about $24,000 in today’s dollars. Not bad for one month.

And while the movie doesn’t really mention this, even though the interviews were only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the crews left everything set up for all four weeks. So the Smiths pretty much left their house during the interviews. It wasn’t until the final day of the interviews that the Smiths got to meet Nixon.

The movie did a pretty good job of showcasing the interviews themselves. There were three cameras set up to capture the interview. One close up on Nixon, one on Frost and another wide angle shot that got both men. As the interview’s director Jom Winther later recalled, they made sure Nixon’s chair was so comfortable that Nixon would be able to sit in it forever — so he wouldn’t want to get up and talk to his team during intermissions.

A lot of thought went into the whole setup.

Frost vs Nixon in the interview of the decade

Still, Frost, who was known as a soft interviewer, didn’t stand up to Nixon very well. After all, Nixon had spent a lifetime battling tough interviewers and had yet to admit any guilt.

In the movie, there’s a moment where one of the light bulbs goes out — sounding like a gun shot. Frost is thrown by this, but Nixon laughs it off, saying that as the President you get used to things like that.

While the bulb did go out, it didn’t happen quite like the movie. In reality, the pop inside the house from the bulb going off was so loud it caused Winther, who was directing the interviews from a production truck outside the house, came rushing inside. When he came inside, expecting to see Nixon shot, he was relieved to see it was just a light bulb that had exploded.

Still, the Secret Service was unnerved by the exploding bulb. They insisted on searching the entire house again before continuing.

Winther, who didn’t think much of it as the Secret Service had searched the house weeks before they started the interviews, went back out to the truck. A little bit later, he was pulled from his production truck by Secret Service agents — guns trained on him.

Frost’s crew were taken down to the basement of the home where the Secret Service agents had found a munitions cache. It appears that the Smiths were gun collectors, and when the Secret Service did their search of the home three weeks before, no one had noticed a huge stash of guns just below the spot where Nixon would be interviewed. It seems the Secret Service thought someone would pull out a gun and shoot Nixon.

They cleared the cache of weapons, and the interviews resumed.

In the movie, there’s a crowd of media personnel swarming the Smith’s home. It seems they’re there pretty much throughout the entire four weeks of interviews. In reality, this wasn’t the case. Sure, people knew about the interviews, but the Smith’s home was in a gated community, and not many made it through the community’s gate.

Some did, though. In fact, some crew members later reported that journalists disguised as gardeners would slip through the community’s gate and offer the crew up to $80,000 — over $300,000 in today’s dollars — for advanced clips of the interview. But unlike the movie, no one made it to the Smith’s front door.

Another event that never actually happened was Nixon’s drunken phone call to David Frost. In the movie, this event is something that Nixon does — and then seemingly forgets. It’s the event that motivates Frost to turn around the interviews, which up until that point weren’t going very well.

After the movie was released, the real David Frost would later reveal that this never actually happened.

While Nixon’s team didn’t have access to any of the actual questions beforehand, everyone knew the basic structure of the interviews. Just like in the movie, the touchy Watergate subject was saved for the last interview.

The tables turn and Frost extracts something historical

So it was then when Frost’s crew knew they had something special after that last interview. But no one else did.

Taping the interviews wrapped up in mid-April, and immediately the production team started editing them. It wasn’t easy. There were almost 30 hours of footage to go through, from three cameras.

Director Jom Winther later recalled how tempted the team was to fudge the accuracy of the interview:

“It was a great temptation because that would’ve been bad for him. We knew he was being dishonest at times, and it would’ve shown him being dishonest, so we certainly considered it. In editing, we could’ve changed history. We could’ve made this guy look really, really bad. Even David, at times, asked, ‘Don’t we have a better reaction shot?’ Nowadays, everyone does it.”

 

Knowing how special what they had managed to capture was, and the importance of journalistic integrity, the team decided to present the interviews as accurately as they could. For five sleepless weeks, the team edited the interviews down into four programs, each 90 minutes long.

Frost decided the Watergate interview, the one they did last, should be the first broadcast.

On Thursday, May 5th, 1977, the first episode launched to a record that’s still held today for the most viewers of a political interview in history — over 45 million people.

For the next three Thursdays, a new 90-minute segment of interviews was released. Following the first segment, about Watergate, on May 5th, May 12th’s segment contained questions about Nixon and the world.

Then May 19th’s segment was about the Vietnam War, both at home in the United States and abroad. It was in this segment where Frost asked a question about the legality of the president’s actions. Just like in the movie, Nixon replied with, “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

The final segment aired on May 26th, 1977 and surrounded Nixon, the man.

A couple months after the final segment, Frost released another 90-minute segment of edited material from the first four parts. This was broadcast on September 10th, 1977, and opened up with Frost’s blunt question, “Why didn’t you burn the tapes?”

The aftermath of the interviews proved an end to any chance Nixon would have of making a comeback into politics.

What happened to Frost and Nixon after the interviews?

Nixon went on to publish his memoirs in 1978. It was a bestseller and received a relatively positive response. Although in the movie, Nixon appears to drift off into obscurity after the interviews, he did have a few moments of publicity. The most notable of these was when he went back to the White House in 1979 at the invitation of then-President Jimmy Carter.

President Carter didn’t really want to invite Nixon, but he was hosting a dinner for Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping. As Nixon had spent a majority of his early days in the White House bolstering Chinese-American relations, Deng had insisted that Nixon is invited. A couple years later, in 1980, Nixon defied the State Department by attending the funeral of the former Shah of Iran — another friend Nixon had made through diplomacy.

Later the same year, Nixon made his way back onto national TV when he supported Ronald Regan for president.

Nixon continued making such appearances, joining other former presidents as representatives of the U.S. on foreign trips here and there until, on June 22nd, 1993, Pat Nixon, died of lung cancer.

Former President Nixon was grief-stricken when his wife died. Less than a year later, on April 18th, 1994, Richard Nixon suffered a stroke while preparing to eat dinner at home in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Four days later, with his daughters at his bedside, he died at the age of 81.

Over 40,000 people lined up for miles to pay their respects. Following his death, the Dallas Morning News stated that:

“History ultimately should show that despite his flaws, he was one of our most farsighted chief executives.”

11 years after his death, the man who had leaked information to The Washington Post and eventually began the downfall of Nixon’s political career was unmasked. It came on May 31st, 2005, when former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt admitted he was Deep Throat. Felt passed away three years later, in 2008, at the age of 95.

David Frost, on the other hand, survived Nixon, although he never gained as much public attention as he did with The Nixon Interviews.

Frost was alive when the movie Frost/Nixon was released in 2008 and even had a chance to weigh in on the legitimacy of the film. According to Frost, there was about 10 or 12 percent of the film that was inaccurate — the biggest fiction being the drunken phone call from Nixon — but overall, Frost was impressed with how accurately the film depicted the events.

On August 31st, 2013, David Frost was on a ten-day cruise in the Mediterranean when he had a heart attack and died.

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