Sunday, October 06, 2019
Yesterday evening, CNN offered series of episodes, and served them up over several hours, covering the rise and fall of Richard Nixon. The whole series, entitled “Tricky Dick”, consisted of actual film and tape footage and at-the-time reporters narrating events, and for all key players their actual voices and words. The series includes scenes and words newly revealed by current technology and presented for the first time.
The picture becomes a chilling backwards inspection of the 60s and 70s, a turmoil of high-stakes politics. It reveals the extent to which Nixon was willing to create a distorted reality to achieve his political goals. Included are his key supporters with their willingness to to dip into waters of evil. I watched several episodes before reaching a point where it became impossible to process more evidence of Nixon’s, and his minions, dismissals of decency and mercy, their blatant dishonesty.
In those days, the news media were all over the stories of brutal politics. The Democrat front-runners for president were Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. Kennedy seemed a surefire winner and this frightened Nixon, but we know how that turned out. In the end, the race between Nixon and Humphrey was close, and we know, too, how that turned out.
My point isn’t to compare the Presidential politics of those days and these days, although some are obvious. What interests me is the extent to which social media have changed the social order. Back in the 60s and 70s, we relied on print press and news figures, like Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and others who reported over radio and on television. These effectively informed most Americans of the Watergate episode, its key players, villains, and heroes. Americans knew about Nixon’s resignation from the Presidency and his subsequent pardon of wrongdoing by Gerald Ford.
These days, the internet’s many instant news and opinions fills us with information, reactions, opinions, options, and attempts to predict winners and losers. That crazy time of the Nixon era more or less came and went, becoming a figment of the past as we regained optimism through a gentler President Ford and our ensuing leaders. Well, almost, for there was that Iran-Contra business, and President Clinton’s misbehavior, but those are stories for another day.
Nowadays, social media expands every uttering and position of a public person to the ultimate. Many of these public persons aren’t even interesting, but they have moments in the spotlight because of their opinions and/or money. Our President and other key figures have words and moves publicized in social media frenzies. Daily, new pages or chapters evolve that ultimately will be spliced into series that give us looks back at the early 2000s.
Well, watching the 60s and 70s was tough enough with the footage and voices that have survived over the years. We only can imagine what it would be like in another 50 years, to look back over this era, and try to make sense of it within the-then bigger picture.
Dear Friends: So complicated! We acquiesce to an internet that gives us voices. Diana