And that’s the way it was: April 22, 1994

Former US President Richard Nixon dies in New York

On April 22, 1994, the press really would no longer have Nixon to kick around anymore. Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, died in New York City, four days after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Of the many adjectives that could be used to describe the ex-president, “telegenic” wasn’t one of them. No politician had a more tortured, wrong-footed relationship with the then-ascendant medium than Nixon. In fact, his time on the national scene was bookended by two disastrous television appearances. First, there were the 1960 debates between Nixon and Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy, the first presidential debates to be televised. Most of the estimated 70 million viewers who watched the hale, confident Kennedy take on the wan, make-up-less Nixon came away believing that Kennedy won. And, indeed, Kennedy would go on to defeat Nixon in the election.

At the other end of his time in the limelight, was his series of television interviews with British journalist David Frost in 1977. Two years after he resigned from office, amidst the Watergate scandal, Nixon agreed to the interviews in order to generate some much needed income. Nixon viewed Frost as a lightweight, who could easily be outwitted; and he saw the interviews as chance to restore his reputation. Instead, at a key moment during one of the interviews, Frost introduced details from a previously unknown conversation between Nixon and Watergate coconspirator Charles Colson. Caught offguard, Nixon made admissions that only corroborated his guilt in the crime.

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The Editors are the staffers of Columbia Journalism Review. Tags: , , ,