Anecdotal Observations On History & Politics
Entries in Nixon (16)
From my original post at MSNBC.com, Nov. 20.
“As a Democrat, I can say I don’t know what we’d do without television.”
That was Jack Kennedy, reflecting on the now-legendary first debate with Richard Nixon of the 1960 presidential campaign. Newly discovered footage from the NBC News Archive shows Jack Kennedy speaking candidly as he puts on make-up, just four days after the famous confrontation played out on live television.
The first presidential debate of 1960 was the first one ever televised. More than sixty million people watched and what they saw proved to be more important than what they heard: a haggard Nixon, just back from the hospital, pale, with sweat on his chin and upper lip.
By comparison, Kennedy was cool and confident, projecting the “winning” image that would take him to the White House.
The story goes that Nixon relied on make-up that failed to hold up under the hot lights of the studio. The newspapers had a field day with the story, and “The Chicago Daily News” went as far as to suggest that Nixon’s make up may have been intentionally sabotaged by a Democratic make-up artist.
That story turned out to be untrue, but the “make-up issue” was as hotly debated as the debate itself.
This clip is a rare glimpse behind the curtain at Jack Kennedy’s off-air persona as he prepared for an interview with David Brinkley and Chet Huntley of NBC News. It was taken at his home in Hyannis on Sept. 30, 1960.
For additional information, please contact Hardball staff or the NBC News Video Archive team.
KENNEDY: See that story about the Democratic makeup man that sabotaged Nixon?
KENNEDY: Yeah, who did make him up?
KENNEDY: Yeah, then why-
OFF-CAMERA: Who was it Len, do you know?
OFF-CAMERA: No, he has a man who does that for a long time.
KENNEDY: Same fellow, but why doesn’t Chicago Daily news have that?
OFF-CAMERA: They weren’t looking for it. [inaudible]
KENNEDY: I must say, all these newspapers keep putting a’ knock now on the debate. I think it’s just (pause) media rivalry. Isn’t it?
OFF-CAMERA: Well there’s some of that.
KENNEDY: …as a Democrat, I can say I don’t know what we’d do without television. I look at print and… (shakes head)
It was 40 years ago this week that embattled former President Richard Nixon agreed to turn over audio recordings of his White House conversations to Watergate investigators. But while the "Nixon Tapes" are in the public record, no historian has listened to and transcribed more of the almost 4,000 total hours than Texas A&M Professor and author Luke Nichter, who runs NixonTapes.org. Now, he and best-selling author Douglas Brinkley have teamed up to write the "definitive" book on the tapes.
In his research, Luke has found some gems that have been hiding in plain sight for years and he's shared one of Nixon's more light-hearted conversations with me as an exclusive for Hardball. Here's Richard Nixon with his secretary Rose Mary Woods speaking about Henry Kissinger's recent trip to the Soviet Union -- the subject? "Russian Hospitality":
As seen on Hardball 10/21/13, with special thanks to Luke Nichter for bringing this audio clip and transcript to my attention.
Nixon: Where the hell do you think Kissinger was over the weekend when I was trying to call him?
Woods: Probably out with some babe.
Kissinger: That’s it—
Nixon: Well, I’d hope so. I hope so.
Woods: He probably was.
Kissinger: It wasn’t [unclear]. I’ll tell you one thing, Mr. President, it wasn’t through lack of offers.
Nixon: Is that right?
Woods: Oh, my word. Aren’t you modest, Henry—?
Kissinger: No. No, there it's got nothing to do with modesty. The head of their State Security, General [Sergei] Antonov, greeted me at the airport and said he had a whole bunch of girls, all 25-years and younger...
Kissinger: Then I said I want to take a swim. So, again, they said—they asked, “Do I want masseuses?”
Nixon: Masseuse? Oh, they use those for that purpose?
Kissinger: Yeah. Oh, God, and they said any hair color I wanted. But they did it—
Nixon: Jesus Christ! Oh!
Kissinger: —so revolting. You know—
Nixon: It takes all the fun out of it.