Thursday, August 22, 2013
It took 40 years, but the last 340 hours of Richard Nixon's White House tapes are now public.
For decades, the secrets of the tapes have trickled out. Listeners can hear Nixon's conspiratorial voice cutting through the clinking coffee cups, the sirens in the distance and the thumps when he plopped his feet on the desk.
Without the tapes, the Watergate investigation could well have dried up. Instead, the tapes' expletive-deleted revelations riveted the nation and brought down a president. And even as Watergate slips further in the rearview mirror, a legacy of distrust and cynicism endures, passed from one generation to the next in dinner-table conversation and digital clips on YouTube.
That's not all bad, scholars argue. People watch more closely, demand more accountability.