Good old Richard Nixon hated the press.
“Never forget,” he tells national security advisers Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig in a conversation on December 14 1972, “the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy, the professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times.” Nixon to Al Haig.
“I really need a son of a bitch,” Nixon said, “who will work his butt off and do it dishonorably.” Because it wasn’t as though this would be a fair fight. “Do you think, for Christ sakes, [that] the New York Times is worried about all the legal niceties? … We’re up against an enemy, a conspiracy. They’re using any means. We are going to use any means.
Haig: Yes sir, very significant, this, uh, Goddamn New York Times exposé of the most highly classified documents of the war.
Nixon: Oh that, I see-
Nixon: I didn’t read the story but, uh, you mean that, that was leaked out of the Pentagon?
Haig: Sir, it, uh, the whole study that was done for McNamara, and then carried on after McNamara left by Clifford, and the peaceniks over there. This is a devastating, uh, security breach, of, of the greatest magnitude of anything I’ve ever seen.
Nixon: Well, well, what, uh, what’s being done about it then – I mean I didn’t, uh
Nixon: Did we know this was coming out?
Haig: No we did not, sir, uh.
Haig: There are just a few copies of this multivolume report.
Nixon: Well what about the, well what about the, uh, let me ask you this though, what about the, uh, what about Laird, what’s he going to do about it, is, uh, now, I’d, I’d just start right at the top and fire some people. I mean whoever, whatever department it came out of I’d fire the top guy.
Mitchell: I don’t know how they can look at this Freedom of the Press in the light that they do. It just makes them above and beyond the government [unclear].
Kissinger: Well it’s preposterous-
Nixon: Now don’t-don’t think that-that despite this, don’t think this is a big bonanza [unclear]. Shit’s gonna hit the fan now, there must be more stuff in these documents, isn’t there?
Kissinger: That would be right but of course now [unclear-“if it”?] leads to a situation where all our enemies in the bureaucracy can leak all of the documents of our administration [unclear].