Allen's Blog

Posts tagged ‘Richard Nixon’:

George McGovern (and Walter Cronkite) at the 1972 Democratic Convention

George McGovern on stage at the 1972 Democratic National Convention So here we are, at the very end of a presidential election campaign which, whatever its outcome, is the most bitter in my memory. And at the same time comes word of the death of George McGovern, the Democratic nominee from the 1972 race. A highly-decorated WWII bomber pilot, and later a U.S. Senator from South Dakota, McGovern’s loss to Richard Nixon in ’72 was by an enormous margin, in part due to their opposing views on the Vietnam War.

George Wallace supporter at 1972 convention I was in Miami for the Democratic Convention. There was a lot of confrontation, both in the streets (over the war) and in the convention center (over various candidates). There was much support for George Wallace, the Alabama governor and segregationist who had survived an assassination attempt earlier that year and addressed the convention from a wheelchair. But in the end it was McGovern and his running-mate, Thomas Eagleton who stood on the podium as the nominees. Eagleton soon left the ticket, after the disclosure of his previous electroshock treatments for depression.

George McGovern, Thomas Eagleton, and their wives at the 1972 DNC

Photojournalists and their state-of-the-art gear at the 1972 Democratic National ConventionThe gear that I and others in the press corps used to cover the convention, along with a great many rolls of Tri-X, is part of ancient photographic history now; I don’t think I had a lens longer than 200mm on my Nikon Fs. But looking through my files for the McGovern images, I came across a few frames that I had never printed before – Walter Cronkite in the CBS News ‘skybox’ from which he anchored the network’s total coverage of the convention. Thought I’d include one for those of you who remember him and the days when the three networks’ coverage were all the video options available.

Walter Cronkite in the CBS News booth at the 1972 DNC

“This Was Air Force One…”

I just learned of the death, earlier this week, of Col. Ralph Albertazzie, who piloted Air Force One during the Nixon administration. That brought to mind the photograph I made at Andrews Air Force Base on August 9, 1974, as the Nixon family boarded Air Force One for the final time.

Nixon boarding Air Force One

Col. Albertazzie commanded that flight, and the attached obit, quoting from his book, “The Flying White House,” notes the exact time and location when Air Force One changed its call sign to SAM 27000. That was the moment that Gerald Ford was sworn in as President, and Nixon became a private citizen.

Gerald Ford's first speech as President

Applause for Gerald Ford

I managed to make it back to the White House in time for the swearing in and later got a look at the Oval Office without any sign of its previous occupant or the new President.

Empty Oval Office

“The End of the Story”: Nixon Resigns, Ending the Watergate Scandal

Today marks the 36th anniversary of of Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency. I was in Washington, working for The New York Times Magazine on what was to be the last in a series of long-form stories dedicated to Watergate and its aftermath. I remember that the issue was to be called “The End of the Story,” and that while most journalists (and most of the country) felt that resignation, rather than an impeachment trial, would be the outcome, the exact timing was in doubt.

Newspaper reading 'Nixon Resigning On TV Tonight'

I was on Capitol Hill, photographing one of the members of the House Judiciary Committee, when he took a phone call indicating the resignation would come that evening. He suggested (and I already knew) that the White House was the place to be. From that moment, things played out very quickly. I remember taking a moment to shoot the picture of the young man in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just because it tied the event to the location.

When President Nixon addressed the nation that evening, I chose to be in Lafayette Park, across from the White House. It probably should have been a more somber occasion, but Nixon was such a polarizing figure that, in the park and other public places, the atmosphere was festive. After all, the illegal activities that were denied for so long had now been confirmed, and millions of Americans felt vindicated in their dislike of the man and his closest associates.

Tom Brokaw watching Nixon resigning with the White House in the background

These two pictures from the park were not published the next day (or ever) but I think tell the story. Tom Brokaw, then 34 and the White House correspondent for NBC News since 1973, watched and reported on Nixon’s speech from Lafayette Park, with the White House as his backdrop and surrounded by crowds who could see Nixon on the same TV set that Brokaw was using as a monitor. The hand-lettered signs were all anti-Nixon (the one that still stands out: Jail to the Chief.) I do remember taking a published picture later that evening on Pennsylvania Avenue — a jubilant crowd carrying a long white banner: Happy Days Are Here Again.

Tom Brokaw watching Nixon resigning on television

Anyway, the resignation officially took place at noon the following day, and I had a great position at Andrews Air Force Base as still-President Nixon boarded Air Force One with his wife, family members, and aides for the flight to California. No big wave as he entered the plane, just the image of a disgraced president slowly climbing the stairs with Pat. At the bottom of the frame, his daughter, Tricia Nixon Cox, and her husband, who boarded after her parents.

Nixon boarding Air Force One

From there, it was a very quick drive back to the White House and the swearing-in of Gerald Ford as our next president. The next big story of the summer? Evel Knievel and his failed attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. More on that later.

This post concludes our three-part series on the Watergate scandal. Click here if you missed our earlier posts on Watergate, with photos from the Senate Watergate hearings and Nixon’s televised address on Watergate.