The Nixon Tapes

This week on From the Vault, we listen to a number of recordings in the matter of Richard M. Nixon. Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, “Mama” Cass Elliot, Christopher Guest, Peter Boyle and others read The Nixon Tapes from 1974

Before we get to Pacifica�s rendering of the Nixon Oval Office tapes, featuring Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, and �Mama� Cass Elliot, let�s step back to 1968, the year Nixon was elected into the White House. It was during their August 5-8th party convention that the Republicans formally announced Nixon as their candidate, and later in the month the turmoil of the 1968 DNC in Chicago took place. In our examination of the DNC a few From the Vault episodes back, we heard the powerful sounds of the streets, the theater of ideas, Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale speaking in Lincoln park, Poet Allen Ginsberg getting tear-gassed, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and the crowds. Pacifica listeners were witness to the events outside the convention hall with an immediacy the television viewers missed.

So this brings us to our first selection of �Nixon� audio from the Pacifica Radio Archives vault: The Pro-Nixon Rally, Madison Square Garden, New York City, October 31st, 1968. What Pacifica listeners heard �that the television audience did not hear� were the instructions to the delegates as if they were extras on a movie set. As you listen to the warm up speaker, realize that these were never meant to be heard by the viewers. Then, hear television icon Jackie Gleason whole-heartedly throw his support behind Richard M. Nixon in his run for President – a widely-broadcast act, perhaps signaling the dawn of a new era of political persuasion in the United States.

After Nixon won the election in November of 1968, the world continued to spin out of control. Pacifica programmers Neal Conan and Paul Fisher produced a report that brought the experience of the insiders and outsiders to the listeners, featured in our next From the Vault segment, and taken from a The Half Time Show, a program recorded outside the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on December 9, 1969 as Nixon received the National Football Hall of Fame Gold Medal.

Finally, moving forward to 1974, and the Watergate scandal, we listen to dramatized reading of the Nixon Tapes, featuring the talent of Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, and �Mama� Cass Elliot – introduced by the 1974 Program Director for KPFK Los Angeles.

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