The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 3, 2014

Watergate as seen through eyes of Dick Cavett show

NEW YORK (AP) — PBS is marking the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's resignation by running a documentary on the Watergate scandal as seen through the prism of Dick Cavett's late-night talk show at the time.

People with memories of Watergate remember developments unfolding on the evening news or the gripping Senate hearings shown on daytime TV, but fewer recall that Cavett's ABC program featured appearances by an array of pivotal figures. Even the former host.

"I didn't remember how much there was," Cavett told The Associated Press on Monday. "I watched some of it the other day and they were new to me."

From 1972 to 1974, Cavett interviewed many major Watergate figures, including Nixon aides John Ehrlichman, Alexander Haig, G. Gordon Liddy and Jeb Magruder, as well as several members of the Senate committee investigating the case. Cavett's show even taped a special edition from the room where the Senate hearings were held.

The documentary "Dick Cavett's Watergate" features fresh interviews with reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, former Nixon aide John Dean and Cavett. PBS announced Tuesday it would air Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. EDT — 40 years to the hour after Nixon announced to the nation that he was quitting.

"I had no choice" but to spend time on it, Cavett, 77, recalled. "It was just the most fascinating thing in the world."

Cavett's coverage didn't earn him friends in high places. He's mentioned in Nixon's infamous White House tapes some 26 times, including once when the president mused aloud in colorful language about ways the government could get back at him. Cavett later learned that virtually every member of his program's staff had their tax returns audited.

"It's a strange feeling to see the most powerful man in the world, not yet a criminal one, denouncing you," he said. "It's kind of a creepy feeling."

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