For journalists, being branded an enemy of an insecure and vindictive president is nothing new.
On June 28, 1973, I arrived in my office, the Vancouver bureau of United Press International, to find the news I had been waiting for.
WASHINGTON (UPI) – Here is a verbatim list of the White House “enemies” supplied the Senate Watergate committee Wednesday by John W. Dean.
The previous day, Dean, a weasel turned rat, had told the committee that during his years as counsel to President Paranoia, the Nixon administration compiled the list so it could “use available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.”
There were 202 names: politicians, business and labor leaders, lawyers and academics, and celebrities such as Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Jane Fonda and Barbra Streisand.
The largest number – 56 – in any category was under media.
Tricky Dick hated the press.
So, it was hardly shocking that early in his presidency the enemies list started to take shape.
I clipped the list from the UPI teletype machine and taped it to a wall in my Vancouver office. It stood nearly four-feet high.
I focused on the media section. Among the most familiar names to me were journalists whose work I admired – Pete Hamill, Mary McGrory, James Reston, Tom Wicker, Gary Wills, Richard Rovere, Daniel Schorr, Sander Vanocur.
I had been with UPI in my hometown of New York during the 1972 presidential election, covered some of the campaign, watched poor George McGovern ignored every time he tried to make an issue of Watergate.
After the Nixon landslide, as the breadth of the scandal unfolded, I was in Vancouver, 3,000 miles from the action in Washington.
I tried to grab a piece of the story when I tracked down a fellow named John Meier – with connections to Nixon’s brother Donald and a shady deal with Howard Hughes – living just south of Vancouver. But all I found was a nice family in a big, new house. No smoking guns.
Still, though I failed to earn a place among Nixon’s enemies, I penciled my name and Hunter Thompson’s on my copy of the list after I read he was pissed at being excluded.
Most conspicuously missing were Woodward and Bernstein and Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post.
At the zenith of their Watergate coverage, Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler had said:
“I read the other day where Mr. Bradlee was giving a speech and he said the Nixon administration is committed to our destruction – referring to the press – that this administration is committed to the destruction of the free press.
“There has been nothing as long as I have been press secretary where we have ever involved ourselves in a program of destruction of the free press. We respect the free press. I respect the free press. I don’t respect the type of shabby journalism that is being practiced by the Washington Post, and I have stated that view to you.”
After the Post’s Watergate revelations helped send all the president’s men packing – off to jail, in most cases – and boot Nixon from the White House, there was a new appreciation for the Fourth Estate.
Seven presidents who followed at least professed a respect for a free press and possessed the cognitive ability to comprehend the difference between fact and fantasy.
Enter Drumpf, who thinks the Fourth Estate is the fourth mansion down the road from Mar-a-Lago and has adapted the old Nixon playbook as mein kampf (my fight).
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake – phony, fake,” Drumpf said to cheers at the annual right-wing reichstag known as CPAC outside Washington last week. “A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people’ – and they are. They are the enemy of the people.”
Each Jew is a sworn enemy of the German people … If someone wears a Jewish Star, he is an enemy of the people.
Press credentials became the new Star of David in Drumpfworld during the campaign, exemplified by his supporters chanting “Jew-S-A” at reporters.
The Creep in Chief and his blissfully ignorant followers appear bent on making politico and Pinocchio synonymous.
I’ve got no strings
To hold me down,
To make me fret, or make me frown.
I had strings
But now I’m free
There are no strings on me …
Down where the Volga flows
There’s a Russian rendezvous
Where me and Ivan goes,
But I’d rather go with you – hey!
In the final presidential debate last October, there was this exchange:
Clinton: “Well, that’s because (Putin would) rather have a puppet as president.”
Trump: “No puppet, no puppet.”
Clinton: “And it’s pretty clear …”
Trump: “You’re the puppet.”
Clinton: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit …”
Trump: “No, you’re the puppet.”
I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.
I want you all to know that we are fighting the FAKE PRESIDENT. HE’S FAKE – phony, fake … HE IS the enemy of the people.