Upset with critical television coverage of the Vietnam War, President Nixon told Attorney General John Mitchell in 1971, "We have to screw the networks. They've got to be screwed. They're terrible people. They're a bunch of bastards." Then, to be sure he'd made his point, the president added, "I want you to screw them and screw them good."
With two months to go until the 1972 election, President Nixon was already salivating at the post-election prospect of making his oponents' lives miserable by auditing their tax returns. To avoid the perception that this would be a vendetta against Democrats, chief of staff H. R. Haldeman suggested, "We'll pull alot of Republicans, too, and just don't look at those after we pull 'em."
"We've got to do it," the president said, "even if we've got to kick [IRS commisioner Johnnie M.] Walters's ass out first and get a man in there."
And what kind of guy did President Nixon want as Commisioner of the Internal Revenue Service? "I want to be sure that he is a ruthless son of a bitch, that he will do what he's told, that every income tax return I want to see, I see. That he will go after out enemies and not go after our friends. Now, it's as simple as that. If he isn't, he doesn't get the job."
And why was it, he wondered, that his opponent George McGovern's income tax files had not been investigated? "There are so many damn Democrats at the IRS," his counsel John Dean said. "It would have to be an artful job to go down and get that file."
"There are ways to do that," said the president. "God damn it, sneal in in the middle of the night."
Two months before the 1972 election, President Nixon ordered that a spy-"one that can cover him around the clock, every place he goes"-be planted in the Secret Service detail he had ordered for Sen. Edward Kennedy in the wake of the assasination attempt on George Wallace.
"We might just get lucky and catch this son of a bitch [commiting adultery]," the president gloated. "Ruin him for '76. It's going to be fun."
In another conversation with Kissinger, President Nixon pointed out that the only place the two disagreed "is with regard to bombing. You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians and I don't give a damn. I don't care."
Explains my answer. All excerpts from his taped convos.
Of course, Jackson was also crazy too, probably even moreso than Nixon.