Okay, the film Frost/Nixon got me interested the “historical” interviews between David Frost and President Richard Nixon. The previews of the film left me with the impression that the interviews and subsequent television special consisted of scathing, dramatic exchanges that painted President Nixon as a liar, cheater, and overall bad guy. Because “true” films are rarely honest translations of what really happened, I knew it was on me to make my own decision.
I found a copy of the 88 minute PBS television special from 1977 and what I found was not a bumbling, evil, or corrupt President, but a bumbling, evil, and corrupt journalist. These 88 minutes were culled from the original 28 hours of interviews and purposefully edited to show Nixon in the worst possible light – that is the FIRST sign of yellow journalism. Mr. Frost took readings from official transcripts out of context, consistently attempted to twist President Nixon’s responses, and just generally attempted to lay traps and set up his interview subject.
Before you dismiss this as ramblings of a right-winger… read the years of entries on this blog and you will see that I am very far from a right-winger… nor am I a left-winger. These ideologies both are fraught with tortuous stupidity and short-sightedness. I am no fan of Richard Nixon, but also, I am no fan of “gotcha” journalism. As someone peripherally involved in journalism, this piece by Frost embarrasses me and I assume that the dramatized film version will be that much worse.
I applaud the act of interviewing and giving tough questions to our elected officials (although it should happen while they are still in office) but I think that Frost did more to hurt journalism’s access to these people with this hack job.