The Nixon Memo: Political Respectability, Russia, and the Press

Overview

An absorbing example of political journalism, The Nixon Memo is a case study of Richard Nixon's relentless quest for political rehabilitation. At issue is the key role of this former president of the United States (best known for his involvement in the famous "watergate" scandal) in the post-cold war debate about aiding Russia in its uncertain revolution.

The story begins on March 10, 1992. Nixon had written a private memo critical of president George Bush's policy toward ...

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Overview

An absorbing example of political journalism, The Nixon Memo is a case study of Richard Nixon's relentless quest for political rehabilitation. At issue is the key role of this former president of the United States (best known for his involvement in the famous "watergate" scandal) in the post-cold war debate about aiding Russia in its uncertain revolution.

The story begins on March 10, 1992. Nixon had written a private memo critical of president George Bush's policy toward Russia. The memo leaked and exploded on the front page of The New York Times. Why would Nixon attack Bush, a fellow party member fighting for re-election? Why on an issue of foreign affairs, which was Bush's strength? The questions are as intriguing as the answers, and distinguished journalist and scholar Marvin Kalb offers a suspenseful, eye-opening account of how our conventional wisdom on United States foreign policy is shaped by the insider's game of press/politics.

This story of Nixon's Machiavellian efforts to pressure the White House, by way of the press, into helping Boris Yeltsin and Russia sheds new light on the inner workings of the world inside the government of the United States. Marvin Kalb read the documents behind the Nixon memo and interviewed scores of journalists, scholars, and officials in and from Washington and Moscow. Drawing on his years of experience as a diplomatic correspondent, he identifies and illuminates the intersection of press and politics in the fashioning of public policy.

"An absorbing and often compelling argument that Richard Nixon directed his own political rehabilitation on the world stage, using presidents, lesser politicians, and the press as his supporting cast. This is a first-class job of unraveling a complex and usually unseen tapestry."—Ted Koppel

"With Marvin Kalb's captivating account, Richard Nixon continues to fascinate us even in death."—Al Hunt

An absorbing example of political journalism, The Nixon Memo is a case study of Richard Nixon's relentless quest for political rehabilitation. At issue is the key role he played during his final years in the post-cold-war debate about aiding Russia. Drawing on his years of experience as a diplomatic correspondent, Kalb identifies and illuminates the intersection of press and politics in the fashioning of public policy.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Political aficionados will immediately recognize Kalb's name because of his long career as a political analyst for CBS and NBC. Now director of Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, he provides here a case study of media, politics, and policy formulation revolving around a memo Richard Nixon wrote and leaked to national media. Critical of the Bush administration for not being more proactive on generating financial support for Russia's fledgling Yeltsin government, the memo circulated during a crunch time for Bush, who was trying to beat back a challenge from the political right led by Pat Buchanan. Kalb portrays Nixon's Byzantine intrigues and courting of the press, which he had so often excoriated, as the efforts of a man who was obsessed with being in the public eye and who longed to regain the elder statesman respectability he lost after Watergate. Kalb interviewed numerous journalists, scholars, and public officeholders to make this most interesting case. Excellent reading for political pros, academic analysts, and the C-SPAN crowd.-Frank Kessler, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph
Booknews
A March 1992 memo critical of George Bush's policies toward the former Soviet Union lies at the center of this analysis of how insiders shape American foreign policy. Richard Nixon's private memo, leaked to The New York Times as his fellow Republican fought for re-election, was part of a Machiavellian effort to use the press to pressure the White House into helping Boris Yeltsin and Russia. Journalist and media scholar Kalb read the documents involved and interviewed reporters and government officials in Washington and Moscow to illuminate the intersection of press and politics in fashioning public policy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. The Idea
2. "I'm One of the Most Hated"
3. "To Give History a Nudge"
4. Bingo!
5. "Who Lost Russia?"
6. Enter the Press
7. The Conference: First, Nixon . . .
8. The Conference: . . . and Then Bush
9. "The Tide Turning"
10. The Ultimate Irony
11. Shadow Minister
12. The Final Nixon
Epilogue: Memories of Watergate
Appendix: The Nixon Memo (March 1992)
—How to Lose the Cold War
Bibliography
Index

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