What happens when America’s president is insecure, touchy, prickly, vengeful, narcissistic, and paranoid, more obsessed with crushing his enemies than leading the people?
If history is a crystal ball—we survive. Richard Nixon’s White House was a petri dish breeding deceit and distrust. It teemed with espionage and enemies’ lists, wiretapping and burglaries, leaked national secrets and even murder conspiracy. All those sins represent just one pre-Watergate feud: Nixon’s crusade against the investigative reporter Jack Anderson. Still, this old-style gumshoe journalist who saw his job as digging for dirt not writing think pieces, helped proved the system’s resilience.
A transition figure, Jack Anderson had shoes soiled by muckraking, hands ink-stained from typing, and face powdered for his nine-year TV gig on ABC’s Good Morning America. He was Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Lesley Stahl and Dan Rather, all wrapped in one. And, when America needed it, he helped take down a president.