Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon Probably Would Not Have Been Saved by Fox News

The 37th president used the then-stronger tools of media regulation to manipulate the far more centralized 1970s news industry in ways that Donald Trump can only fantasize about.


The comparisons are uncanny. Just ask everyone. ||| Need to Impeach
Need to Impeach

What would Richard Nixon's fate had been if the Watergate break-in happened in 2016 instead of 1972? For some political and journalistic commentators, the historical speculation is too tantalizing to resist. "There's more likelihood he might have survived," former Nixon legal counsel John Dean mused five months ago, "if there'd been a Fox News."

The Nixon-Fox escape is an increasingly popular theory these days. It's a way to analogize (prematurely) President Donald Trump's murky Russia-related behavior to the impeachable sins of Watergate, and it's a way to bemoan the power-aggrandizing feedback loop within the contemporary conservative media bubble. "Fox News might save Trump from another Watergate," posited Vox last week. "Nixon never would have been forced to resign if you existed in your current state back in 1972, '73, '74," Geraldo Rivera told Sean Hannity on the latter's radio show in February.

At best, these counterfactuals do not take into consideration the ways that the more tightly regulated media landscape of the early 1970s played directly into Nixon's dirty hands. At worst, they morph into calls for reviving the Fairness Doctrine and strengthening Public Interest requirements—constitutionally questionable regulatory tools that Nixon enjoyed, Trump envies, and too many in the media pine for.

I'll say it again: Very good poster, but would have been GREAT with no capital letters. ||| DreamWorks

Much of the journalism profession's sense of nostalgia and motivation is centered on the romanticized refutation of Richard Nixon—publishing the Pentagon Papers under legal duress, allegedly turning the tide of public opinion against Vietnam, shoe-leathering that low-rent Watergate break-in until a whole presidency imploded. Reporters had values back then, patriotic values, and helped save us from a power-abusing authoritarian.

In fact, as the Watergate story was first unfolding Nixon enjoyed far stronger support among daily newspaper editorial boards than he did even with a voting public that would re-elect him by 23 percentage points. In a presidential campaign already marked by the September 1972 revelation that former attorney general John Mitchell had overseen a slush fund to spy on the president's enemies, Nixon won the ed-board endorsement war over Democratic challenger George McGovern in a landslide, 753 to 56. (The final daily-newspaper split for Trump and Hillary Clinton, for those keeping the analogy, was the inverse: 20 to 244, with Libertarian Gary Johnson receiving 9 endorsements and independent Evan McMullin 1.)

Did Nixon's endorsement rout reflect a pure preference for the same administration that famously referred to members of the Fourth Estate as "nattering nabobs of negativism"? No.

In March 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizen Publishing Co. v. United States that "joint operating agreements" (JOAs), in which a city's competing newspapers share business-side operations, violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. There were 44 such newspapers in 22 cities at the time of the ruling, and so (in the colorful words of the Washington Post's Bill Prochnau in 1981), "publishers descended on Washington like locusts on Salt Lake City." Their goal was to revive a languishing bill originally (and accurately) known as the Failing Newspaper Act but by then rebranded as the Newspaper Preservation Act.

"The lobbying which went on for this bill may well have set new records," the former New Hampshire senator Thomas McIntyre told Prochnau. Chief among the palm-greasers was the once-mighty Hearst Corporation, which had pioneered the JOA as a way to forestall the eventual collapse of second-banana papers and to squeeze out monopoly-style profits for another decade or three. Nixon's Justice Department was against the bill, but his Commerce Department was for it. Hearst Corporation Chief Executive Richard Berlin was blunt about the value proposition to the president, writing in a letter to Nixon:

Those of us who strongly supported the present administration in the last election are the ones most seriously concerned and endangered by failure to adopt the Newspaper Preservation Act. The fact remains that there was almost unanimous support of the Administration by the newspapers who are proponents of the Newspaper Preservation Act. It therefore seems to me that those newspapers should, at the very least, receive a most friendly consideration.

Nixon signed the bill into law. And the Hearst papers in 1972 were no longer "almost unanimous" in their support; they were unanimous.

What of the news-gathering side of those Nixon-era journalism establishments? "In the 1970s, there tended to be an agreed-upon set of facts that the journalist reported," claims Jon Marshall, author of Watergate's Legacy and the Press, in the aforementioned Vox article. "So if you watch the CBS or NBC and ABC newscast, there would be some variation on the stories they covered and what they emphasize and didn't emphasize. But they agreed mostly on what was happening….I don't think that exists today."

The implication here, I think, is that the Big Three broadcasters' "agreed-upon set of facts" was uncongenial to a fact-bending president. But that's not how it looked inside the White House.

In memos written in 1970 and unearthed by the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, senior administration officials bragged about exerting "an inhibiting impact on the networks," in part by invoking the real threat of regulatory retaliation. Former White House counsel and eventual Watergate convict Chuck Colson crowed about personally pressuring executives from each network, reporting that they were "very much afraid of us and are trying hard to prove they are the 'good guys.'"

"These meetings had a very salutary effect," Colson wrote, "in letting them know that we are determined to protect the President's position that we know precisely what is going on from the standpoint of both law and policy, and that we are not going to permit them to get away with anything that interferes with the President's ability to communicate….The harder I pressed them, the more accommodating, cordial and almost apologetic they became."

Colson's main policy weapon was the same one many contemporary Trump-opposing media nostalgiacs want to bring back: the Fairness Doctrine. That Federal Communications Commission rule—inaugurated in 1949, enshrined by the unanimous Supreme Court decision Red Lion Broadcasting Co., Inc. v. Federal Communications Commission in 1969, abandoned in 1987, and finally struck from the books in 2011—required broadcast license-holders to air pieces on controversial news topics and allow for opposing viewpoints to be heard.

The doctrine was a blunt instrument for powerful political interests to scare stations away from broadcasting anything that might trigger a demand for an opposing response. As economist Thomas Winslow Hazlett wrote in Reason earlier this year, "The goal was not to get on the radio but to tax political dissent, getting opposing views off. The cynical campaign worked, and then some. Broadcast radio and television devoted almost no valuable time to public affairs; unorthodox beliefs scrambled and hid."

The system was maximally geared to favor the powerful just as Tricky Dick was leaning into his first term. "The Nixon White House was seeking systematically to politicize broadcasting," legendary CBS broadcaster Fred Friendly wrote in a must-read 1975 New York Times history of the doctrine and its abuses. "A Supreme Court decision that could be construed as the opening wedge for Government involvement in decisions of content on a broadcast-by-broadcast basis meshed with the aspirations of the Nixon Administration." That combination produced results:

There is evidence…that major broadcasters were in fact inhibited by the Government during this period. They granted Richard Nixon more free air time than any President had ever sought before to announce and explain his programs. And with few exceptions, they acquiesced in the demand of the White House that views too critical of the President and his policies be kept off the air—when, for example, the Democratic National Committee sought to purchase reply time to the President.

Not only did the Fairness Doctrine dissuade broadcasters from tackling politics, its kissing cousin, the Equal Time Rule, drove license-holders still further away from the business of putting pols under the bright lights. Hazlett again:

The Equal Time Rule…quashed rather than fostered presidential (and other) debates by giving all office seekers—dozens—the legal right to crowd onto the stage. Neither the major networks nor the major candidates would consent to participate in these circuses.

An act of Congress temporarily waived the equal time mandate in 1960, thereby allowing the famous Kennedy-Nixon debates. No such special dispensations were enacted in 1964, 1968, or 1972, and presidential debates were again lost. The law was revised in 1976 in a way that made such waivers standard, and debates have been the hit of every presidential season since. Only by eliminating a rule meant to promote "equal time" was it possible for public debate to gain any time.

The Nixon administration's ability to sculpt a maximally favorable media environment is something Donald Trump impotently aspires to but cannot ape. After (and even before) the president warned that "Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked," his own Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief, Ajit Pai, shot the idea out of the water. Trump may have bristled at being the butt of late-night jokes by asking whether "Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on T.V.," but in fact his very candidacy depended on the old FCC rule being piled up with so many exceptions that any attempt to re-impose such strict enforcement would face insurmountable legal obstacles.

It's far easier to influence TV news when there are only three networks, who between them broadcast far less than 24 hours of news per day. Which gets to another arrow Nixon had in his quiver that Trump could only dream of: Public Interest requirements. Hazlett again:

FCC regulators, while kvetching about network TV's "vast wasteland," blockaded a competing medium, cable television, in the '60s and '70s. The rationale was that wired networks would "siphon" viewers from over-the-air stations, threatening the latter's financial viability. That was claimed to endanger the "public interest" in TV news and informational programs, undermining American democracy….

Only when deregulation eliminated such byzantine rules did bountiful entertainment flow. And real informational programming, which had been cynically used as the justification for broadcast protectionism, finally emerged—on unlicensed, unregulated C-SPAN (1, 2, and 3), CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Comedy Central, and other outlets too numerous to name. Ideological diversity sprouted with no "public interest" rules to smother it.

So one way to address the hypothetical question What if Watergate had happened in our Fox News world? is to say that MSNBC would have flat out incinerated Richard Nixon 24/7. Also, any attempts by White House heavies to lean on the Big Three broadcasters would have been laughed out of the building. Meanwhile, with competition and proliferation loosening up ideological strictures right and left—including the pretense of non-ideological news presentation—there's at least a chance that newspapers would have been a bit less enthusiastic about preferring Nixon over McGovern. Say maybe closer to the 5:1 ratio enjoyed by Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter, instead of Nixon's 13:1.

The details are of course speculative, but the overall frame is hard to dispute: Richard Nixon took material advantage of being the chief regulator in a highly regulated media environment. He famously used cross-ownership rules, which limit newspapers' ability to own broadcast stations, to apply pressure on the meddlesome Washington Post, a scenario that Trump may be replaying now with his personal lobbying to double the postal rates on Amazon, which shares an owner in common with…the meddlesome Washington Post. But Nixon had a lot more levers like that at his disposal than Trump does.

Faced with a news-baiting president they may well hate more than Nixon, many journalists and commentators are advocating a curious solution: Give the federal government he sits atop more discretionary power over the media business.

Twelve Democratic-caucusing senators, including potential presidential aspirants Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker, recently asked the F.C.C. to consider revoking the licenses of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, a conservative local-news purveyor, in the name of the Public Interest.

"Bring back the Fairness Doctrine," urged former congressman Mel Levine and L.A. civil rights lawyer Joel Bellman in the Sacramento Bee last month. ("There was a time when the FCC's Fairness Doctrine helped keep its radio and TV licensees responsible, and responsive, to their communities," they write, ignorantly. Instead, "today we have Fox and Sinclair running news divisions whose ideological bias and indifference to basic journalistic ethics would have once been inconceivable.")

"Trump continues attacking the media," complained the Seattle Times editorial board last month. What is to be done? Among other recommendations, they called for "strengthening public-interest standards for broadcasters." The only way to stop Big Brother, apparently, is to hand him a loaded gun.

Underpinning this perverse set of policy preferences is a persistent sense of anxiety, unsupported by evidence, that the American media diet has somehow become less diverse in our Internet age, thereby producing unhappy political outcomes.

"The undermining of media as a public good and its parallel consolidation helped take us to the election of Donald Trump," argue Adam Eichen and Frances Moore Lappe, in their 2017 book Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning and Connection for the America We Want (excerpted two months ago in Salon). An "Anti-Democracy Movement," the authors maintain, has succeeded to such an extent that "today most of what Americans watch and see is controlled by just a handful of companies—all preoccupied with their shareholders' wealth, not our society's health."

The truth is closer to the opposite. Media has become more, not less, democratized over the past half-century, with the user experience far less "controlled" than in the alleged glory days of the early '70s. Consumers may not be making the kinds of media choices that journalism defenders prefer, but that's not a problem for the government to fix.

As Fred Friendly concluded in 1975, echoing a lot of hard-earned liberal truths from that profoundly disillusioning moment, a classic Democratic error of the period was to believe that policy intentions mattered more than effects and that abuse of power was limited just to Richard Nixon.

"It became clear [upon investigation] that the basically well intentioned concept of the fairness doctrine has on occasion been perverted—used for political purposes," Friendly wrote. The Kennedy administration, he discovered, engaged in "a politically motivated campaign to use the fairness doctrine to harass stations airing right-wing commentary, an effort inspired and managed by the White House and the Democratic National Committee and financed in large measure with political contributions." More:

The facts of that effort are startling enough in themselves after the Watergate story, with its generally accepted assumption that dirty tricks in the Nixon White House were unique. But the story of the fairness-doctrine effort during the 1964 campaign also illuminates—with striking irony—the subtle and fascinating interplay of power politics and regulatory policy. In the Red Lion case, for example, many of the agency bureaucrats, Government lawyers and judges tended to dismiss the broadcasters' claim that freedom of expression might be "chilled" by court decisions extending Federal regulatory control over the content of radio and television programs—little realizing that at the time, they were granting implicit legal sanction to an unsavory project of political censorship by the Democrats.

Furthermore, this sanction, unwittingly ratified by the highest court in the land, would later embolden the Nixon Administration in its attempts to lean on broadcasters unfriendly to the President.

Some lessons, it would seem, need to be re-learned every generation. Particularly by journalists.

NEXT: Top LGBT Magazine Invokes 'HerStory' Covering Gina Haspel's Swearing In and Gets Smacked Down

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  1. Is it just me or did Bill Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, and now Trump all do things far more worthy of impeachment than Nixon?

    1. You did things more worthy of impeachment than Nixon?

    2. Serious question, what has Trump actually done that is worthy of impeachment? Name a single instance where he has misused the power of the Presidency that would rise to the level of impeachment?

      No one ever seems to give any examples. They just say he is horrible and move on.

      1. He stole the election from Hillary. Stealing is wrong!

      2. some Russians Facebook messaged him information about Hillary

      3. Attacking countries unilaterally with no act of Congress. Syria, Yemen… Not that Congress would vote to impeach let alone have the Senate convict because they don’t like voting on war because they may be held accountable for their vote. Much easier this way.

        1. He had an act of Congress. He had the Authorization for the Use of Force from 2001. Congress owns that. And they say it covered what he did. And therefore it does until Congress decides otherwise.

          Try again.

          1. For attacking Al Qaeda and their allies; you want to stretch that to cover the Syrian government or the Houtis you’ll have to explain how they are connected. Congress had a vote that said these were covered. that is news to me? Or did they just punt like when Obama attacked Libya?

            1. They just punted. Congress owns the war power. It is up to them how they use it and that includes by default.

              1. Exactly it is up to Congress to make war and when they didn’t; Trump violated the Constitution. Sorry that is an impeachable offense in my book. Just cause Congress doesn’t do it’s job one way or another doesn’t excuse a President’s actions. The whole lot should be thrown out. Congress for not voting one way or another and the President for usurping the powers granted by the people to the legislative branch.

                1. Congress has the power to make war. They did it by saying yes. They are not restricted in their means.

                  1. We’ll have to disagree. They never said yes, they didn’t say anything other then the executive branch can attack Al Qaeda and its allies. Unless the Syrian government or the Houthi rebels are Al Qaeda allies, then the president is acting outside that order and therefore illegally and should be impeached.

                    But this is again a pretty moot point because Congress likes it this way but that is in itself a violation of the Constitution because the American people never gave Congress authorization to delegate its duties to the Executive Branch.

                    1. That’s the thing: Unless your complaint about Trump is something every other President doesn’t do, your complaint isn’t about Trump, it’s about the system.

                      And, granted, the system is a rotten, stinking mess. But if Trump isn’t different from other Presidents in this regard, getting rid of him just puts another guy in charge of the rotten, stinking mess.

    3. It’s not you.

      I’ve said more than once that Nixon was an altar boy compared to those who came after him.

      1. One of Nixon’s “crimes” was asking the head of the IRS to go after his enemies. The head of the IRS said no and that was the end of it. Obama actually used the IRS to do so.

        1. There were plenty of impeachable moments in the last administration, but that one is particularly glaring.

          1. That one and sending guns to the Mexican drug gangs so that they would be used in crimes which could then be pointed to as justification for gun control is pretty galling as well.

            1. Pure CT idiocy. Gunrunning predated Obama by years.

              This is why conservatives have to have their own colleges like Hillsdale, your own news stations, your own websites, are anti-science, etc

              You are a bunch of fucking liars.

              1. No it didn’t you idiot. They tried to track the guns under Bush and stopped when they realized the couldn’t. The Obama people got the straw buyers to buy them and send them to Mexico but then never informed the Mexican officials they were coming. Why would you do that? It is because they wanted them to show up at crime scenes that could then be used to push gun control.

                Stop lying. Eric Holder tried telling your lie and had to retract it and admit he committed perjury before Congress. Fast and Furious came right out of the AG’s office and the White House and was designed to ensure the guns went to Mexico and were not found until they were left at a crime scene.

                Those are the facts. No go lie somewhere else.

                1. You read all that on where you pick up the rest of your bullshit CT.

                  Hey what about Agenda 21? And Jade Helm 15? OMG!!

                  BENGHAZI!!!! BLOOP! DERP!!! GET HIM!!

                  1. Like CNN?

                    During the Fast and Furious investigation, nearly 2,000 firearms were illegally purchased for $1.5 million, according to a DOJ inspector General report. Hundreds of guns were later recovered in the US and Mexico.
                    In 2010, two of the weapons linked to Fast and Furious turned up near the scene where US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down in the Arizona desert.
                    Whistleblowing led to investigations by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. During the House investigation, Attorney General Eric Holder was cited for contempt.


                    Why do you think you can lie like this?

                  2. Rene Jaquez, the ATF’s former attache in Mexico City, told CNN the operation never should have happened.

                    “Guns traditionally are just not allowed to leave the undercover operation for fear that it will enter into the criminal element and then be subsequently used in a crime at a later date,” Jaquez said. “And the last thing any one of us as law enforcement officers wants to have attributed to us is the death of an innocent individual by a gun that was lost during one of our operations.”

                    But the ATF knowingly allowed individuals to purchase weapons that they knew would end up in the hands of criminals on both sides of the border. And when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in Arizona in December, two AK-47 variants that were allowed to “walk” under the program were found at the scene.

                    In Mexico, the operation drew sharp criticism from top officials, who have long said that U.S. weapons are fueling the country’s bloody drug war. And ATF agents in Arizona told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in June that they cringed every time they heard of a shooting after the program had been under way for some time


                    1. John, you’ve reduced the poor thing to unintelligible blubbering. What a drubbing!

                    2. What does that even mean? Is CNN part of the big right wing conspiracy too?

                    3. I’ve seen many people get their asses handed to them over the years, and son, you just got curb stomped.

                    4. Palin’s Buttplug|5.22.18 @ 2:59PM|#
                      “DEEP STATE!!”

                      After getting your ass kicked one more time, that’s the best you can do?
                      Pathetic, turd.

        2. Obama actually used the IRS to do so.

          According to you and Alex Jones.

          1. No. According to the IRS dumb ass. Tea Party groups got a $5.5 million settlement because of it


            Fuck you, you lying piece of garbage. Go lie somewhere else.

            1. The IRS – you dumbass. Obama did not direct Lois Lerner.

              1. We don’t know that. Lerner took the 5th. Obama bragged about using the IRS against his enemies. But we are assured he was just joking. And I am sure Lerner took the 5th because she had nothing to hide or anything.

                1. We don’t know that.

                  You just said he did = you fucking dishonest hack.

              2. The IRS – you dumbass. Obama did not direct Lois Lerner.

                Obama administration: The Buck Passes Here.

                1. Paul,

                  Obama didn’t know about anything until he saw it in the newspapers.

                  1. John, whether or not its impeachable is one thing, but I am troubled by Trump pressuring the Post-Master to breach the contract by and between Amazon and the post office.

                    There is no doubt that Trump does not like Bezos. From what I know of him, I don’t much like Bezos either.

                    You know that in most states, a cause of action will lie for (1) interfering with existing contractual relations and (2) interfering with advantageous business relations. An interference with contractual relations claim basically requires the plaintiff to prove (1) he has a contract with a third party; (2) the defendant knows of the contract between the plaintiff and the third party; (3) the defendant interferes with the contract; (4) improperly, thereby causing (5) damages to the plaintiff.

                    Sure, interfering with contractual relations, in and of itself, may not constitute an impeachable offense, but using the machinery of the state to do so is, IMO, a different matter.

                    1. Mike,

                      None of those rules apply to the government. The government can terminate any contract it likes for any reason. It just has to pay any consequential damages that result.

                  2. It should be noted that when he DID learn of it…he didn’t discipline anybody over it.

          2. And the IRS Inspector General.

            That they went after his enemies was proven. That he ordered it, not so much.

            But which is more frightening, that they obeyed an order, or that they didn’t need to be ordered?

          3. Read up on the Nixon Anti-Libertarian Law, and recall the National Lampoon comic series on CREEP. Without much exaggeration the posters: Commies, Faggots For McGovern, resemble today’s Babykillers for Hillary cant. The absolute priority of God’s Own Prohibitionists has nothing to do with taxes or spending. They want to bring back the 1872-3 Comstock laws putting people on a chain gang for a decade for telling someone which drugstore sells rubbers. The Libertarians who wrote Roe v. Wade and got it enacted are what BOTH the religious nationalsocialists (GOP + Prohi) and lay socialist (Dem + Green + CPUSA) seek to pal up to… with poniards drawn and sharpened.

        3. Actually, that wasn’t the end of it. The IRS then audited Nixon, just to show him they meant it.

          Clinton, too abused the IRS. A long list of conservative organizations and figures spend the entire Clinton administration being subjected to perpetual audits, which suddenly stopped when he left office. Tax return secrecy was also violated in going after his enemies.

          1. Yes Brett and remember when IRS documents were found on a whit house table that went from A to Newt, surprisingly Newt became quite after that

            1. I’m still convinced that blackmail is why Clinton was acquitted so handily in his joke of an impeachment trial.

              Maybe you recall that the House held this climatic vote to fully investigate all of Starr’s counts against Clinton? Then that night the House leadership in private session decided to throw out 95% of the allegations, skip any investigation, and proceed to a trial on just three of the counts?

              No coincidence that, after one of the House leaders had to resign after dirt on him was leaked.

              That was the shame of it all: In the end, the Republican leadership themselves were too dirty to do anything effective about Clinton.

    4. I still am unsure on what impeachable acts Trump has done.

    5. It’s just you. Trump doesn’t belong on that list yet.

      I’m not saying he might not eventually belong, but nothing he’s done yet puts him there.

    6. Obstruction of justice – by firing Comey to prevent an investigation.

      1. LOL You mean the investigation that was going on and still going on?

        You called it dude. You are so fucking stupid that you have to laugh.

        1. It is the correct reply, you partisan hack.

          See below.

      2. Except that firing Comey didn’t prevent the investigation. Didn’t even slow it down, because Comey wasn’t running it.

        And everybody thought Comey needed firing, right up until Trump did it.

        And Trump’s legally entitled to fire people.

        1. Three sources familiar with the investigation said the findings Mueller has collected on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice include: His intent to fire former FBI Director James Comey; his role in the crafting of a misleading public statement on the nature of a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son and Russians; Trump’s dangling of pardons before grand jury witnesses who might testify against him; and pressuring Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

          Mueller would then likely send a confidential report to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation. Rosenstein could decide whether to make the report public and send its findings to Congress. From there, Congress would then decide whether to begin impeachment proceedings against the president, said two of the sources.

          NBC News

          1. ” the findings Mueller has collected on Trump’s attempts to obstruct justice include:”

            You don’t appear to understand what this means.

            1. “You don’t appear to understand what this means.”

              Possibly. Alternatively the scumbag does know and is, as almost constant, lying about it.
              Miserable little shit has about the same principles as that pig in the sty.

          2. You will never get anywhere presenting evidence to a mystic. It is not clear to me there is any advantage to be had joining in sibling spats between factions of the kleptocracy. Better to push an alternative LP agenda, no?

        2. Secretly offering pardons to people under indictment so long as they do not cooperate with a counter-intelligence investigation is a crime. Doing so undermines the lawful leverage that prosecutors use to coerce prople into telling the truth. It’s basically bribing people using the pardon power. That’s in addition to Trump’s confession to firing Comey to get this Russian investigation off his back. It’s textbook corruption, abuse of power, and obstruction.

          Then there’s the possible scenario where Trump used money from a slush fund to pay off people. According to latest version Trump did pay off Stormy, he borrowed the money from his lawyer who raised the money by selling accese to Trump. Pure corruption. It’s a conspiracy to launder money from Cohen to Trump. There’s a campaign finance aspect of it but more damning is the possibility that Trump knew Cohen was selling access and he knew the money he was borrowing came from those funds.

          1. Sure but there is no evidence any of that has occurred.

            And it is not a crime to pay someone off. That is not money laundering. Money laundering is changing the source of illegally obtained money to a legal one. You are using words the meaning of which you do not understand.

          2. And the president’s power to pardon is absolute. He can pardon anyone he likes for any reason.

            1. False. Trump could not offer to pardon someone so long as that person withheld evidence that would incriminate Trump. That’s one way a President could an otherwise lawful power with criminal intent.

              1. Yes he could. There has never been a single limitation held to the pardon power. It is the same reason Bill Clinton was able to sell one to Marc Rich and there was nothing the Republicans could do about it.

                Stop getting your talking points from the Dailey Show.

                1. Bill Clinton should be in jail. I just read the Marc Rich story. Pure corruption. Pardon now and be paid off later. I hate them all.

              2. Z565|5.22.18 @ 3:24PM|#
                “False. Trump could not offer to pardon someone so long as that person withheld evidence that would incriminate Trump. That’s one way a President could an otherwise lawful power with criminal intent.”

                Are you liar or an imbecile?

          3. Hi random person who isn’t obviously PB’s sockpuppet.

            1. Fuck you.

            2. Nahh, he/she provided an elaborate reply.

              I am more inclined to tell you GOP Trumpsters to go fuck yourselves.

      3. That was the line after Stephen Colbert told you that it was bad he got fired, right?

    7. Seriously.

      Nixon looks like an Archie comic book to the dark Spawn we’re seeing these past few administrations.

      I’d rather wonder about that.

    8. Start earning $90/hourly for working online from your home for few hours each day… Get regular payment on a weekly basis… All you need is a computer, internet connection and a litte free time…

      Read more here,….

  2. Thanks Matt. Interesting and in depth article. Particularly the analysis of the Fairness Doctrine which does a good job discussing how regulations done in the name of fairness so often favor the powerful and engrained interests.

    1. It still amazes me that the courts ever allowed the Fairness Doctrine. It is literally the government dictating the content of people’s speech. WTF?

      1. In the context of other things the courts have allowed, it’s not quite as shocking, but it’s still pretty bad.

      2. There were just three TV networks all running on public airwaves, you idiot.

        Now it seems silly of course.

        1. There were thousands of radio stations you fucking moron. It applied to radio too.

          God damn you are ignorant.

        2. A lot of that was enabled by the government in the first place. So I don’t understand your point.

          1. That’s okay, shreek doesn’t understand his own point anyway. Never has, never will.

            1. LEAVE THE DONALD ALONE!

              1. I didn’t say anything about Donald Trump. The fact that you’re a lunatic is completely independent of whoever’s in the White House.

      3. Doesn’t amaze me, because b’casting was treated as a franchise. Typically municipal franchises include requirements to serve everyone fairly. The idea was that a b’caster was serving as gov’t’s gatekeeper, & if you don’t want gov’t to favor some viewpoints over others, the gatekeeper had to be controlled to keep things fair. So although it was gov’t indirectly controlling (not literally dictating) content of people’s speech, it was viewed as the way to keep gov’t from controlling speech?else they might just license the b’casters whose views they favored.

  3. Why does the Left act like FOX News has a monopoly on news? They can have whatever bias they want and it affects nothing in the journalism landscape. Nixon could not have been saved with a robot FOX News because FOX News does not have a monopoly. People forget that Nixon was pretty damned popular, all things considered. There wasn’t a Team Red / Team Blue mentality back then. The Left didn’t grovel at the feet of the Democratic Party. Remember it was the Democrats that got us into Vietnam, and Nixon that got us out. It has Nixon at the helm when we got to the moon, who opened up dialog with China and Russia. And he jacked up spending, which lefties and the media can’t get enough of.

    The media was overwhelmingly against Trump, including much of FOX News. The idea that Trump is only in power because of the power of that network is bullshit. It’s just more of the Left digging for excuses as to why their crappy candidate lost. What the fuck is wrong with these conspiracy mongers?

    1. Why does the Left act like FOX News has a monopoly on news?

      Two reasons; first they are assholes who think that no one other than the left has a right to speak at all, and second they are totalitarian fanatics who can never admit fault in the ideology. So, if people refuse to support the left, it can’t be because the ideology is wrong. It must because the evil Jews or people at Fox News or some other designated enemy lied and fooled them.

      1. One more reason: CNN is less popular than Sponge Bob Squarepants reruns, while Fox dominates. The left hates to be recognized for dopes that they are. The lefty news source are unwatchable and unreadable.

        The latest “outrage” on the left, for example, where they claim Trump called “all immigrants animals” . What an absolute, despicable and ridiculous lie. Why would anybody go to them for news? Seriously, this single incident ought to be enough for every literate human being to turn off the left-wing media.

        Victor Davis Hanson, over at National Review, has a pretty good article explaining Trump’s popularity.

        1. Few things are more dreary and boring than propaganda.

          1. Unless its cartoonishly hysterical.

            Like the pictures, placards, and signs one found all over St. Petersburg (then still Leningrad) in the winter of 1985 celebrating the liberation of Leningrad.

            I still recall the animated posters of FDR shaking hands with Adolph Hitler while each had their boots impressed upon the face of a Russian women and sporting devilish grins.

        2. To be fair, at least Sponge Bob Squarepants is entertaining. The last time I found CNN entertaining was late election night, 2016. Boy, was THAT ever fun to watch!

        3. CNN is less popular than Sponge Bob Squarepants reruns, while Fox dominates. The left hates to be recognized for dopes that they are. The lefty news source are unwatchable and unreadable.

          Exactly. I don’t really like Fox news, but I’ll occasionally watch it during some important news event like election coverage because the other networks are so horrible. It’s parallels the Republican party. It sucks but people tolerate it because it doesn’t make them want to scream and pull their hair out.

    2. When they look in the mirror, they see all that is good and right in media. Reality, not so much.

    3. You left out – “the Right had not yet coalesced into Fundie Nutjob Aborto-Freaks yet”.

    4. The answer is in the 1955 Solomon Asch experiment “Opinions and Social Pressure,” which showed that a single dissenting voice reduces the herding effect of a fake consensus by 16%. This measured the phenomenon in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “WE” soon made manifest at Soviet parades and Nuremberg rallies. The measurement puts a lower bound on the efficacy of casting a libertarian spoiler vote declaring what you want rather than going with the loudest looters out of fear. There were about 10 subjects in an Asch experiment so a single honest declaration reduced error 60% more than lying reinforced the hypocrisy. This is why Republicans are so eager to infiltrate the LP, and Dems so keen to exploit that infiltration to dis us as “right wing” agents of mystical coercion. Every antichoice LP candidate weakens and undermines the LP platform that became Roe v Wade to enforce women’s rights.

  4. [John] Brennan’s plot to infiltrate the Trump campaign.

    As Trump won primary after primary in 2016, a rattled John Brennan started claiming to colleagues at the CIA that Estonia’s intelligence agency had alerted him to an intercepted phone call suggesting Putin was pouring money into the Trump campaign. The tip was bogus, but Brennan bit on it with opportunistic relish.

    Out of Brennan’s alarmist chatter about the bogus tip came an extraordinary leak to the BBC: that Brennan had used it, along with later half-baked tips from British intelligence, as the justification to form a multi-agency spy operation (given the Orwellian designation of an “inter-agency taskforce”) on the Trump campaign, which he was running right out of CIA headquarters.

    The CIA was furious about the leak, but never denied the BBC’s story. To Congress earlier this year, Brennan acknowledged the existence of the group, but cast his role in it as the mere conduit of tips about Trump-Russia collusion: “It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.”

    1. But if his role had truly been passive, the “inter-agency taskforce” wouldn’t have been meeting at CIA headquarters. By keeping its discussions at Langley, Brennan could keep his finger wedged in the pie. Both before and after the FBI’s official probe began in late July 2016, Brennan was bringing together into the same room at CIA headquarters a cast of Trump haters across the Obama administration whose activities he could direct ? from Peter Strzok, the FBI liaison to Brennan, to the doltish Jim Clapper, Brennan’s errand boy, to an assortment of Brennan’s buddies at the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and White House.

      1. Who cares about this? Don’t you know that today is the new Royal Couple’s first public function as man and wife?
        Hoda and Savannah are still on cloud nine.

    2. “It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.”

      Nice use of the passive voice there.

  5. “President Donald Trump’s murky Russia-related behavior”

    It’s pointless, moronic comments like that, that only serve to demonstrate the inherent bias of the writer. Why take anything you write seriously, if you happily swill the DNC talking points without question.

    1. Welch at some level knows it is bullshit. But he can’t say that without offending the circles he runs in. So, he just punts. You can’t be in the media in Washington the way Welch is and not lie and lie a lot.

    2. Cohen was in Russia soliciting Russian money for Trump while Trump was running for President. You didn’t know that because Trump lied about it and Cohen lied about it. You don’t know even know what story to use to defend Trump because Trump changes his story so often. Did Trump borrow the money to pay off Stormy? Not according to Trump, oh but that was last month’s version. Now Trump has a different story. Fuck liars. When you lie you lose credibility. I can’t wait for Trump to put under oath. It’ll be impossible for he to escape without admitting to lying.

      1. “Cohen was in Russia soliciting Russian money for Trump while Trump was running for President”

        You really shouldn’t be getting your news from Vox.

        “When you lie you lose credibility”

        What do you lose when you can’t think critically and solely rely on political party talking points to form your personal worldview?

        1. Explain to me why Trump lied about the Stormy payoff. Tell me why Trump lied about his associations with Russians. Why does Trump even need to involve himself in the Manafort criminal case? Why would Trump offer to pardon Manafort before the evidence has even been presented? Why would Trump pardon a guy who sells American foreign policy to some evil bastard dictator? Manafort is a disgrace. Why is Trump so interested in helping this traitor?

          1. Because he didn’t want his wife to find out and didn’t want a hooker out telling tales on him. That is a pretty simple explanation.

            Trump hasn’t lied about his associations with the Russians. You keep saying that but you don’t give any link or any explanation of what you mean. It is just a baseless assertion on your part.

            There is no evidence Trump ever offered a pardon to Manfort. You are just making shit up.

            Manfort hasn’t been convicted of anything. And you offer no evidence he has done anything. You just call him a traitor because it fits your narrative.

            Go learn how to argue from facts and come back later.

      2. Z565|5.22.18 @ 3:35PM|#
        “Cohen was in Russia soliciting Russian money for Trump while Trump was running for President.”
        (believable) Cite missing.

        “You didn’t know that because Trump lied about it and Cohen lied about it.”
        (believable) Cite missing.

        “You don’t know even know what story to use to defend Trump because Trump changes his story so often.”
        Loser opinion.

        “Did Trump borrow the money to pay off Stormy? Not according to Trump, oh but that was last month’s version. Now Trump has a different story. Fuck liars. When you lie you lose credibility. I can’t wait for Trump to put under oath. It’ll be impossible for he to escape without admitting to lying.”
        When you lie you lose credibility, liar.

  6. What about Russian Hackers? Russian hackers surely would have saved him.

  7. What kind of crazy impertinent stories are you writing now? Responding to some stupid crack John Dean made 5 mos. ago?!

    Sure, & would Napoleon have been in better position had he not eaten something bad? Would Hudson have retired happily had he not gotten some bad advice in his Bay?

    1. Careful, you almost slipped into your Hihn sockpuppet.

  8. Didn’t hey have actual evidence against Nixon? Could that be the difference here?

    1. You know, that might just be a difference…

  9. You’d think that these fancy-schmancy journalism schools would at least have a class or two in the history of government regulation of the media, meaning the practical implications.

    Maybe such courses should even be required.

    It’s almost as if journalism school teaches nothing useful – I mean, you can graduate and not know about the Kennedy and Nixon crusades against broadcasters?

  10. For some political and journalistic commentators, the historical speculation is too tantalizing to resist. “There’s more likelihood he might have survived,” former Nixon legal counsel John Dean mused five months ago, “if there’d been a Fox News.”

    If it’s an official source, then you can call is speculation instead of a masturbatory piece of fan fiction.

  11. OK, now I actually read it, &…still a dumb premise for an article. The Fairness Doctrine is deader now than it ever was before. It exists only as in idea to troll w. Yeah, so you can do analysis of a hypothetic that could never plausibly come to pass…whoopee.

    1. “hypothetic”

      I loled at you.

  12. Didn’t they have a Fox News during the Nixon Administration? Wasn’t it called National Review?

  13. Faced with a news-baiting president they may well hate more than Nixon, many journalists and commentators are advocating a curious solution: Give the federal government he sits atop more discretionary power over the media business.

    We’re not exactly talking about the brightest bulbs on the tree here.

    1. Trump is Hitler, that’s why we need to disarm Americans.

    2. The internet is in danger, give the Feds an “off switch”.

    3. One of the biggest lies the media tells is that the media isn’t valued in totalitarian societies. The truth is just the opposite. Totalitarian control the media but life as a reporter is great. Much better than life as a reporter in a free society. In a free society, you have to take on the government and people who don’t like you. In a totalitarian society, all you have to do is toe the party line and you have a safe nice job informing the proles of what they should think. That is what most media members want. They want government control of the media because it will give them guaranteed prestige and job security.

  14. (The final daily-newspaper split for Trump and Hillary Clinton, for those keeping the analogy, was the inverse: 20 to 244, with Libertarian Gary Johnson receiving 9 endorsements and independent Evan McMullin 1.)

    Hitlery dominated the all-unimportant cosmotariaqn print-magazine editor endorsement 1-0.

  15. “So if you watch the CBS or NBC and ABC newscast, there would be some variation on the stories they covered and what they emphasize and didn’t emphasize. But they agreed mostly on what was happening…”

    That trend was started by FDR threatening broadcaster’s licenses right after they fired up the FCC.

    The Tom Woods Show had a good episode on the subject a while back.

    1. Didn’t FDR reduce the duration of broadcast licenses from years to something like six months for the very purpose of holding license renewals over broadcasters’ heads?

      But he didn’t tweet about it first, so that made it OK.

  16. The Dems plunked for the Red Republican Income tax before the GOP, and even after Tricky used the IRS code to create an anti-libertarian tax subsidy favoring the looter media and parties, Dems were silent. Nixon’s anti-libertarian law was signed within 24 hours of David Nolan signing papers organizing the LP into an existing entity. So if the Dems want fairness and God’s Own Prohibitionists want to cut spending, abolishing tax bribery of the media that favors fiscally irresponsible campaigns would be Job One.

  17. “the impeachable sins of Watergate”

    Were they impeachable? We’ll never know for sure, since Nixon had the good sense to resign before the House could issue Articles of Impeachment.

    In the entire history of the US, the House of Representatives has only issued two impeachments against presidents (Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton), both were ill advised and failed in the Senate.

    1. By contrast, if there ever was a time for impeachment and conviction, it would be now. They didn’t put it in the constitution never to be used!

      1. Tony|5.22.18 @ 3:46PM|#
        “By contrast, if there ever was a time for impeachment and conviction, it would be now.”

        I’m sorta hoping Obo gets that use of the CIA for domestic spying hung around his neck; he deserves that and much more.
        Trump OTOH, has yet to be shown to even have an un-paid parking ticket. But that doesn’t stop our fucking ignoramus to live in his fantasy world.

        1. Quick, where’s the first place you go to for your political news?

          1. The first place I turn for political news are Tony’s comments on the Reason website. That’s why I am so well informed!

            1. If these idiots were really confident in the horseshit they believe, they’d have no problem identifying their sources of information. Yet they never do.

              Except John, who freely links to the Daily Caller etc. as if he’s completely oblivious to everything.

    2. As someone alive when all this happened, Nixon resigned to avoid being impeached which was hours away. The evidence of a cover up and his participation in that cover up of the Watergate break-in was overwhelming. If impeached, he knew he would be removed from office and that is why he resigned. Nixon wanted to save what little dignity he had left and not destroy the office of the Presidency by being the first one removed from office. For all his flaws, and there were many, Nixon still had the integrity to put the good of the country before himself. The only reason Clinton was not removed from office is the media effectively convinced the American people the issue was sex, not perjury and obstruction of justice which resulted in the establishment GOP doing what they do best, cave in to public opinion and fold like a house of cards.

    3. At a minimum, Nixon obstructed justice, and was an accessory after the fact to burglary and campaign finance violations. And these crimes arose from a scheme to steal the election, as unnecessary as that turned out to be, which IMO makes them “high crimes”.

      By “at a minimum”, I mean that’s if you believe that a highly effective executive had no idea what his people were doing in the basement of his residence, with bags of $100 bills from his campaign fund, until some of those people were caught in a break-in of the Democrat party HQ. It seems rather more likely that Tricky Dick was up to his old tricks again, and at best didn’t realize that when he told a crew recruited from places like the CIA to find out what the Dems were up to, they weren’t going to stick to legal methods. But that can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; there was evidence sufficient for proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he obstructed justice trying to protect that crew when they got caught. (Which makes him less psychopathic than his predecessor, LBJ.)

  18. Trump should pardon Flynn.

  19. We don’t need a fairness doctrine, we need Republicans and their fans to stop living in an information bubble of lies.

    1. lol.

      /as Tony bounces around in a bubble.

      1. It’s possible. Apparently people don’t know when they’re in an information bubble. But in mine is the entire rest of the planet minus FOX News and its viewership. So, just going by parsimony…

        1. So you’re with IS and Boko Haram, among others

          1. They are probably more up to speed on climate change than FOX News.

        2. LMAO!! You are one of those clowns who argues that Fox is fake news and CNN and MSNBC are not which is beyond stupid. CNN has been busted at least 8 times broadcasting flat out lies which they were forced to apologize for and fire people for airing. How many people at Fox have been fired for broadcasting fake news? ZERO…. Put down the bong, get a job and grow up.

  20. I guess you must feel safe and secure this way, Matt, even if we don’t understand.

    But I really need to know, doesn’t the smell get to you? With your head shoved so far up your ass like it’s been, I mean.

    And I don’t even want to know what you’ve been eating.

    1. Yeah you’re right, maybe Welch should have offered the totally non-partisan TRUMP HASN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG line.

      1. Maybe he hasn’t. Just because you don’t like his policies doesn’t mean he has done anything wrong. And gee maybe he really is getting fucked over by the FBI and IC. That might be a big fucking deal. But, it is Trump and you don’t like him, so it must all be good.

  21. Good Lord. Too many Trump worshippers here at this supposedly non-Republican website.

  22. Another story of what If’s. didn’t Shaka get torn down for her story of what if’s and now we have this what if story by Welch. All these stupid what if stories are created only to belittle Trump or Fox and unfortunately some idiot will read it and report to his idiot friends as if it was the truth. Well what if Santa Clause actually existed would he keep the coal mines open so that he could give bad commentators coal, it would take a a lot of coal for all the BS we read here lately

    1. All these stupid what if stories are created only to belittle Trump or Fox


      1. it is when it becomes clear they are doing such what if articles because nothing else they’ve said has panned out so they have to make up stories. BTW I also hate it when they make up stories about Obama or anybody.

      2. Worse, it’s a “what if” musing that bridges to the past. Normally, asking “what if” is useful when looking forward [to develop contingencies and arguments]

  23. While true, Fox news may not have been able to save Richard Nixon, the Democrat party could have saved him if he had just followed their playbook telling everyone he was worried that the Russians were colluding with the Democrats and his Plumbers were just “investigating” their Watergate office.

  24. If there were no John Dean back then Nixon would have finished his second term. Does anyone know what the Watergate burglary was actually about?

    1. My theory of the Watergate burglaries: Nixon could not believe how self-destructive the Democratic Party was in 1972, and asked his dirty-tricks department to quietly find out what they were really up to. Having a dirty-tricks department in his campaign staff was the first problem – basically, he hired unscrupulous men to steal the election if needed. The second was that, mistakenly or not, the men hired for this didn’t understand his order as asking the to do the job _legally_. So they broke in to plant bugs, and broke in again to service them – and maybe there was a reason that two of them were no longer working for the CIA, because that break in was almost a crime comedy plot. Besides the clumsiness with the locks that tipped off the security guard, they posted a lookout with a walkie-talkie, but didn’t explain what he was looking out for. If he told the truth to the Congressional committee, he did not make a warning call when the police surrounded the building because he didn’t understand that cops might be of concern.

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  26. Matt, I handed you a sizable check several years back at a Nor Cal get-together. At that time, you said the D’s had no bench, and that turns out to be true,
    Now, you are trying to claim some equivalence between Nixon, who hired private spies to spy on the D’s and the (pretty much admitted, sitting president) Obo’s use of government spies to infiltrate a political opponent.
    Would you care to try to explain that bit of obvious bullshit?

  27. Interesting piece, but… Nixon sucks today as much as he did then, when I look at his wing running congress into the dirt by thinking they can play in a sandbox built by democrats: identity politics. Casting aside contrast has had them in a perma-slide ever since [minus the distraction of the Reagan presidency]. Remember, those are they guys who picked Ford to lose against Carter, and the nation was sold on losing as a good thing with a ruse called “detente” which reached its apex with the hostage crisis in Iran. The media landscape being different today might change the style and pace, but not the substance. That WIN [Whip Inflation Now] button was useless propaganda then, and would have the same effect today.
    It’s also worth noting that the various airline hijackings of Nixons day [to trot off to Libya, Egypt or wherever] were met with… airport security and metal detectors. That misplaced focus [away from cockpit security] was the seeds of 9/11 being sown, and we can thank Nixon for disarming a host of ex Air Force pilots that used to fly with a pistol in their flight bag that would have been handy on that fateful day.

  28. Nixon would not have been saved by Fox News because Nixon was involved in an actual crime and conspiracy to cover up that crime. Remember the burglars were caught breaking in to the DNC headquarters. I have read so moronic comparisons the past year or so between Nixon and Trump but this one is the worst. How you feel about the President is irrelevant. The only issue is there has been no evidence provided that shows his campaign engaged in any activity to try and influence the outcome of the election. BTW, collusion is not illegal, just unethical, but when has politics ever been ethical.

    1. Collusion, coordination, community organizing, diplomacy, PAC’s… it’s all pretty much the same thing with different perspectives. Give it tiime, but free speech likely protects “collusion”… we just haven’t seen the case yet. As bent as justice Roberts is, it may be coming soon. Without an underlying crime, you can’t get to a RICO case [where coordinating events becomes part of the crime]. Also, you can’t get to a special prosecutor without some hard evidence of an underlying crime being committed in the first place – which is why Rosenstein is a menace, having abandoned both DOJ policy and giving ever more latitude to Mueller in hopes of finding a crime [against Trump]. Absent that, he had the DOJ embarked on an impeachment inquiry, which is something belonging to the House [as point of conception], and represents a violation of separation of powers on top of being 5 star idiocy: the executive branch cannot impeach itself.

  29. I did not expect this of Reason as other authors had called out the witch hunt for what it is, but Matt is referring here to Trump’s “murky” behavior with Russia. What exactly was “murky”? He also seems to imply Trump is similarly corrupt like Nixon and only Fox news is saving him from being called out on it. The article just doesn’t make any sense. I didn’t vote for Trump but the most concerning thing to me is exactly what Matt is pressing on here. This prejudice against an elected official just because they are an outsider.

  30. The Obama admin had the FBI spying on the Trump campaign…

    What Nixon’s staffers did back in the 70’s is probably no big deal today.

  31. People seem to forget that at one time their were Liberal Republicans and Conservative Democrats. The Republicans basically represented Big Business and the Democrats Labor back then. Nixon was one of the last Republican Liberals. He believed in big government and big government control. Nixon introduce wage and price controls during a down economy to help business and restrain labor. I doubt Fox News would have loved or even liked Nixon, let alone have tried to save him.

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