June 17, 2022
I've watched a good part of the January 6 Congressional hearings and keyed into pundits drawing comparisons to other scandals in American history.
Some predict these hearings could impact President Trump in the way congressional hearings in the 1950s ended Senator Joe McCarthy's reign of terror against suspected communists and ruined his political clout.
More on that below, plus more good news!
The 1973 Watergate hearings
prove a more apt historical comparison to the January 6 investigation. I remember my reaction upon hearing there was an
18 ½ minute gap in the tapes of President
Nixon's conversations with his advisors.
I'm reacting the same way to hearing phone calls and texts President Trump made on January 6th. And missing calls, he might have made. And close advisors telling him he'd lost the election and his refusal to accept it.
Nixon's resignation is history. We can only wait and see what impact the investigation and hearings will have on President Trump's popularity and political future.
But the story I've got for you today reveals how the Watergate investigation failed to discover some of the most abhorrent dirty tricks that went on under President Nixon's watch.
The gaslighting and assault of a woman who knew too much.
Gaslighting — a kind of psychological manipulation that causes a person or people to question their perception of reality through repeated systematic lies — has become a well-known term due to current politics.
Perpetrators work to make their targets believe the lies or go crazy trying to refute them. We've never seen it in American politics on the grand scale of today, but it's always been there.
Martha and John Mitchell came to the white house from Arkansas in President Richard Nixon's first term, he as attorney general. She publicly and loudly supported the president for a second term as her husband took over the president's re-election campaign.
But then Martha began to suspect Nixon's men were up to dirty tricks. She listened in on her husband's meetings with Nixon and concluded members of the campaign were acting
Martha had always spoken her mind; the press dubbed her mouth from the south.
She complained about the label, which wasn’t applied to men in Washington. “Why do they always call me outspoken? Can’t they just say I’m frank?” She asked.
The name calling got worse.
The night arrests in the Watergate break-in hit the news, June 22, 1972, Martha called reporter Helen Thomas of United Press International to say she thought her husband and the president were somehow involved. She had eavesdropped on her husband,
the attorney general’s phone calls and meetings and seen his papers.
Martha's phone call that night was suddenly cut short. According to Thomas, “…it appeared someone took away the phone from her hand." She heard Martha say, ‘You just get away.’” Thomas said she called back, and the hotel operator told her, “Mrs. Mitchell is indisposed and cannot talk.”
Martha later accused an FBI agent named Stephen King [not the author] of assaulting, kidnapping, and sedating her. She said he ripped the phone from her hands as she spoke to Helen Thomas and subsequently threw her down and kicked her to keep her from making any phone calls.
Martha said, under orders from her husband she was locked in her room incommunicado for 4-days. She was given alcohol, but no food.
After Nixon was re-elected in 1972, King left the FBI for private industry. Then in 2017, he was appointed Ambassador to the Czech Republic by President Donald Trump.
During King's confirmation hearings, no questions came up about allegations he helped in the Watergate cover-up, or that he assaulted a woman to that end.
Martha Mitchell said she tried to escape several times while King held her prisoner in a California hotel for 4 days. When she tried to exit through a glass door, the two got into a tussle that broke the glass and her hand was cut so badly she required six stitches.
Martha said a doctor was finally summoned to aide King in keeping her a prisoner. King forced Martha onto the bed and held her down while the doctor removed her pants and gave her a shot of tranquilizer.
A reporter who spoke with Martha after she was released described her as “a beaten woman,” with “incredible" black and blue marks on her arms.
As Nixon fought for his office and reputation, his administration briefed the press about the Martha's lack of credibility. She was portrayed as a paranoid, publicity-seeking, possibly alcoholic housewife. Rumors spread that she had been institutionalized for insanity.
In 1975, convicted Watergate conspirator James W. McCord Jr., corroborated Martha's story, telling the New York Times, “Martha's story is true—basically the woman was kidnapped.”
McCord said, H.R. Haldeman—then President Nixon's chief of staff—had been involved in “a great effort in the White House to discredit Martha Mitchell.”
Former President Richard Nixon continued to deny Martha's kidnapping and assault and blaming her for his downfall. He went on record in an interview with journalist David Frost, saying. “If it hadn’t been for Martha Mitchell, there’d have been no Watergate.”
No Watergate scandal, he means.
But by the time he resigned in August of 1974, Martha's marriage had crumbled, she appeared to have possibly had an emotional breakdown and had suffered embarrassing publicity. She died a year later, May 31, 1976, at age 57).
Martha Mitchell may finally be getting a bit of justice, or at least her due as Watergate Whistleblower. Harvard psychologist Brendan Maher encountered mental patients incorrectly diagnosed as being delusional, when it turned out their "delusions" were true. He named this the Martha Mitchell
Today, June 17th, a documentary The Martha Mitchell Effect,
premiers on Netflix.
In addition, Gaslit,
tells her story in a limited series now playing on Starz.
Below, Sean Penn as attorney general John Mitchell opposite Julia Roberts, as wife Martha, in the upcoming Starz series Gaslit. (Courtesy Towne & Country HILARY BRONWYN GAYLE)
So excited to share some more good news with you about Close-Up On War.
The book has received another starred review, this one from Publisher's Weekly,
which brings the total to four! This is the most of any of my books.
I'm not announcing it publicly for a couple of weeks because I don't want to bombard social media and appear as if I am bragging.
I'm sharing the news with you because you know how long, and how hard, I have worked on this book, and you know how honored I am to be able to tell Catherine Leroy's story, so you know I am not bragging!
I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped me do this work, which includes you! Thank you for your support! I couldn't write without it.
I'm also gratified to have done justice to Catherine and grateful to be getting her story out in the world.
Until next week...
Follow me on social media
Read a great book? Have a burning question? Let me know. If you know someone who might enjoy my newsletter or books, please
forward this e-mail. I will never spam you or sell your email address, you can unsubscribe anytime at the link below.
To find out more about my books, how I help students, teachers, librarians and writers visit my website at www.MaryCronkFarrell.com.
Contact me at MaryCronkFarrell@gmail.com. Click here to subscribe to this newsletter.