Talk Radio Hero was Watergate Villain
This month marked 42 years since the Watergate break-in that eventually brought down a presidency. But it gave rise to a talk radio icon.
G. Gordon Liddy, among the most nefarious characters in the break-in and following cover up by the Nixon administration served time for the scandal. But in the 1990s, redeemed, Liddy got his own talk radio show that became a wildly popular force in the conservative movement.
With some irony, Liddy gained his largest audience for lampooning President Bill Clinton’s scandals, particularly Whitewater.
From The Right Frequency:
After the Whitewater scandal saw the departure of White House counsel Bernie Nussbaum and Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, a feature in the Wall Street Journal asked people who were involved in the Watergate scandal if there were parallels with that and the Whitewater scandal. While other figures took a stodgy, scholarly approach, Liddy had fun, playing on his Watergate past.
“Despite our political differences, Bernie, I offer this letter of encouragement and urge you to do the right thing. What is important is that you remain loyal, keep your mouth shut and don’t give up Hillary!” Liddy wrote. “The feds will be angry when you refuse to turn rat. They will threaten you with a long prison term. They sentenced me to 21 1/2 years. Don’t let that scare you. Hell, I did only five. They’ll let you out shortly after the Clintons are run out of town. Be strong, Bernie.”
Joking aside, The Right Frequency explains that Liddy doesn’t second guess Watergate.
Liddy was not repentant about Watergate, asserting he did not believe it was a crime against the constitution. “It depends on what you include under the rubric Watergate. If you limit it to the break-in at the Watergate Hotel and subsequent cover-up, that had nothing to do with (subverting) the Constitution. I was not an officer of the government at that time; nor was I bound by an oath to defend the Constitution. This was a political intelligence-gathering operation,” Liddy said. But he added, “I can see an argument if one includes the break-in of Dr. Fielding’s office (Daniel Ellsberg’s therapist) out in Beverly Hills because then I was a government agent. However, I would point out to you that it was a matter of national security. Here was a man (Ellsberg) who had access to the entire topsecret holdings of the Rand Corp. He said himself that he took them, including the so-called Pentagon Papers, which were highly classified. We did not know whether he was operating with the KGB. “I did not consider that to be a violation of the Constitution any more than I considered it a violation of the Constitution (to spy) against the East Bloc countries. I was serving my country.”
To learn more about how G. Gordon Liddy and other talkers, read The Right Frequency.