This month, I have been mostly listening to two new podcasts for me. The first of these is Slow Burn, a podcast from Slate.com exploring aspects of the Watergate scandal. There’s an open political agenda here – comparing the slow drip of sleazy stories from the Nixon White House to the abundance of stories coming from the Trump administration. There’s nothing killer, no knockout against Trump (yet); but maybe this is what a scandal unfolding looks like.
In the days immediately after the Watergate break in, there were bizarre and disturbing stories in the news, with Martha Mitchell the wife of the Attorney General being tranquillised and imprisoned by hired goons; cheques from the break in being linked with republican donations. Then came investigations, some stymied by Nixon. Then the oval office tapes became known. The information is interesting, and not necessarily in the main narrative of Watergate as it is told. Sometimes it would be nicer to have the main narrative before spinning off on a tangent, but it should be a fresh take for even those familiar with the story.
Direct comparisons to the events surrounding Trump are made, and the many figures in the current Republican party are involved enough to not come across well. It does steer clear of commenting too deeply however – largely limiting its analysis to presenting both governments as having a similar tendency towards chaos and sleaze. We can’t say that Trump is going to end like Nixon, but if he was this is probably what it would look like from the sidelines.
Season two will be on the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Not as interesting a topic for me, but Leon Neyfakh did delve into some of the unfounded conspiracy theories (mostly by Mae Brussell) on Nixon – so I have no doubt that he can do similar for Clinton. The podcast is smooth and professionally produced, and I’m definitely happy to get more of it.