Friday, April 16, 1971 - 11:28pm - 11:31pm
Richard Nixon, Ronald Ziegler
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Yeah?

White House Operator: Mr. President, I have [White House Press Secretary] Mr. [Ronald L.] Ziegler, and he's going to still try and find [White House Communications Director] Mr. [Herbert G.] Klein for us.

President Nixon: Oh, Ziegler's all right. Fine.

White House Operator: The President.

Ron Ziegler: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Hello, Ron?

Ziegler: Yes, sir. I'm in a phone booth here. There's a reception taking place with a dance and—

President Nixon: Good, good.

Ziegler: Everyone, everyone, and I haven't even asked, “What did you think?” People were simply volunteering to me that they thought it was an excellent performance.1

President Nixon: They liked it, huh?

Ziegler: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: They didn't respond too enthusiastically, but the room was not that kind of a room.

Ziegler: The thing of it is that a couple of the, [Mexico Ledger publisher] Bob White, for example, told me, who's a good friend, as you know.

President Nixon: He's a good man, yes.

Ziegler: He told me that the people he has talked to, and they talk to him straight, said that overall the attitude is that it was a great performance. He said that a number of them said you know, we didn't know whether we should've clapped or not, because we're editors.

President Nixon: Yeah, I know.

Ziegler: They said that the wives were the ones who were clapping. And he said that many of them began, you know, to clap even though they didn't know whether they should or not at a press conference like that.

President Nixon: But the wives were clapping, yeah.

Ziegler: But for example, [William D.] Cotter from [a] Syracuse paper.

President Nixon: Who? Syracuse, yeah that's a good paper.

Ziegler: He's a good man and thought it was great. White, [Washington Star editor] Newbold Noyes said there's never been anything like it.

President Nixon: Was he pleased, Newby?

Ziegler: Absolutely.

President Nixon: He's a nice guy.

Ziegler: A couple people have said it was a virtuoso performance. And everyone says that the questions were good, and the president handled them beautifully.

President Nixon: There were good questions. Yeah.

Ziegler: A lot of them—

President Nixon: Tell, tell…I want you to go up to [Los Angeles Times publisher] Otis Chandler and tell him he asked great questions. Will you do that?

Ziegler: Yes, sir. But a lot of them are talking about the way you handled the [FBI Dir. J. Edgar] Hoover thing.2 And there's overall support of the way you handled the Hoover thing.

President Nixon: Yeah, where I said well after all you can't put the old man out, you know, when you're kicking him in the ass.

Ziegler: That's right. But a lot of them are talking about the figures you used. You know, the 300 and the 50 and the less than before and so forth.3

President Nixon: Yeah. And incidentally I hope they all noticed that that ‘61, ‘62, ‘63 when Bobby Kennedy was the Attorney General.

Ziegler: They got that. They got that. [Charlotte News editor C.A.] McKnight, the next president—

President Nixon: Yeah.

Ziegler: Thought it was—

President Nixon: From Charlotte?

Ziegler: Yes.

President Nixon: How is he?

Ziegler: Excellent. Everyone who I've talked to, and I've talked to a great number here, even [humor columnist] Art Buchwald thought it was great.

President Nixon: Buchwald? What'd Buchwald say? [laughs]

Ziegler: He thought it was great. He said, Buchwald said it was a great performance.

President Nixon: Why don't you get a hold of [National Review editor] Bill Buckley and see what he thought?

Ziegler: I've been looking for him. I don't see him here.

President Nixon: Let me know if you find him and call me back. Will you?

Ziegler: Well, Herb's here too. Would you like—

President Nixon: Yeah, I want to talk to Herb. Yeah.

Robert Ziegler: He's down there now.

President Nixon: Have him call me back, but you get a hold of, of . . .

Ziegler: Buckley.

President Nixon: Buckley. Because it's interesting, because he's a hardliner. And see what Buckley thought. You know?

Ziegler: OK, I'll try and find him.

President Nixon: Fine, fine.

Ziegler: If I don't I'll take to you in the morn—

Nixon hangs up.


1 Nixon had taken questions earlier this evening at the convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. (↑)

2 Nixon was asked whether criticisms of Hoover might hasten his retirement. (↑)

3 Nixon said the number of wiretaps had dropped 50 percent in 10 years and that there were only 300 FBI taps by court orders in the previous 3 years. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.