The secret taping did not begin with Nixon

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Feb 01, 2009 The secret taping did not begin with Nixon

One thing that made me fond of vehemently disliking Nixon starting in the early 1970s was his non-stop or near non-stop secret audiotapings of conversations from the Oval Office. Then, several years ago, I learned his two Democratic predecessors were frequent secret audiotapers, and that Lyndon Johnson showed Nixon the taping system at some point between Nixon’s 1968 electoral victory and taking office.

Recently, I learned that all this secret taping started with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and continued uninterrupted straight through Nixon.

In any event, on January 31, 2009, the New York Times addressed a controversy among historians about some allegedly material errors in Stanley Kutler’s 1995 creation and compilation of transcripts from the Nixon White House tapes, in terms of alleged omissions and failure to designate when at least one conversation between John Dean and Nixon ended and started up again. The controversy brings into question about whether Dean was more culpable than previously generally thought by Watergate historians.

If this much error can result from transcripts apparently carefully arranged by a historian given access to the Nixon White House tapes, imagine how many human errors are made in failing to accurately portray allegedly criminal acts observed by a cop. Jurors need to know this. Jon Katz

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