Dick Cavett says Watergate was fun. A dangerous threat to American democracy, sure—but nonetheless fun. Over two years beginning in June 1972, Cavett became a “Watergate addict.”
That might sound crass, but for the fact that Cavett, as the host of the ABC late-night fixture The Dick Cavett Show, was one of the first major journalists to bring serious attention to the scandal. Only two days after five burglars were caught in the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Complex, Cavett asked Sen. Ted Kennedy about the intruders’ connections to the Nixon White House, and would later interview nearly all of the names the scandal made famous, including Alexander Haig, G. Gordon Liddy, Woodward and Bernstein, and many others. The White House certainly took note of Cavett’s coverage; his name surfaces on the Nixon tapes 26 times.
In the first members-only bonus episode of Slow Burn, our new podcast series about Watergate, host Leon Neyfakh talks to Cavett about what it was like to live through the unfolding scandal. Neyfakh and Slate’s Jeffrey Bloomer also reflect on the life of Martha Mitchell, the subject of Episode 1, and debate whether we will ever wax nostalgic about the Trump era.
Season one of Slow Burn was produced by Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons. Bonus episodes for the season were produced by Leon Neyfakh and Jeff Friedrich.