On Nov.17, 1973, President Richard Nixon traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando in hopes of squashing the Watergate scandal. The Magic Kingdom turned into the Tragic Kingdom for the president as he delivered his most infamous sound bite.
Nixon addressed the annual convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, which included a live televised question-and-answer session with the president. In response to a question Nixon said: “… people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
But evidence was mounting to the contrary. Four days after Nixon’s Orlando press conference, the Washington Post reported that there was a mysterious 18.5 minute blank in secret Oval Office tapes Nixon surrendered to a U.S. Senate committee. The blank occurred during an Oval Office conversation on June 20, 1972 (three days after the Watergate break-in) between Nixon and his chief of staff Bob Haldeman.
Within a year of his Orlando speech, Nixon would resign from office.
Did you know?
- Nixon, while finishing his studies at Duke Law School, applied to the FBI in 1937 to become a special agent. Urban legend has it that he was rejected because he did not pass the mental evaluation and he failed to hit the target in his firearms test. His FBI application and the bureau’s interview notes refutes this, however. Nixon was approved for the special agent position, but the approval was canceled because Nixon was not immediately available to take the position because he was studying for the California Bar Exam at the time.
- Bill Clinton was the first president to publicly invite Nixon back to the White House. Clinton was also the first president to seek Nixon’s advice, which primarily focused on Russian issues.
- Nixon was a member of the “Barnaby Jones” fan club. The 1970s-era television show starred Buddy Ebsen, who gained fame as Jed Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Nixon was such a fan that he attended a Barnaby Jones Luncheon Club meeting in 1985 where Ebsen was the guest of honor.