What was behind "Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares"? Jan 10, 2017 12:38:04 GMT -5 maudes harold and stranger67 like this
Post by starviego on Jan 10, 2017 12:38:04 GMT -5
On August 3, 1970, about a month into the TLB trial, President Nixon held an impromptu news conference in the hallway of a Federal Courthouse in Denver, Colorado, where he was scheduled to give a speech, when he started talking about Charlie Manson:
www.thecrimson.com/article/1970/8/4/nixon-calls-manson-guilty-attorneys-move/ Aug 3, 1970
Nixon... criticized the press, saying that it tends to "glorify and to make heroes out of those who engage in criminal activities."
Referring to the Manson case, Nixon said, "here is a man who was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason."
Nixon said that "as far as the coverage was concerned [Manson] appeared to be rather a glamorous figure."
The Press didn't seem to mind the criticism. The story quickly went 'viral,' using today's parlance.
Bugliosi, pg441 (The next day)
"You could see the headlines on every newsstand. The car radio had periodic updates."
According to an account in Time magazine, reporters dashed to the press rooms and filed bulletins that swept the country.
Ironically, the President's remarks seemed to help, not hinder, the glorification of the crimes:
Bugliosi, pg 440
"It isn't every criminal who merits the attention of the President of the United States. Charlie had made the big time."
Bugliosi, Shinn, and Fitzgerald
The statements by Nixon threw the trial into an uproar. The defense attorneys called for a mistrial. The next day(Aug 4) Charlie picked up the LA Times, that defense lawyer Daye Shinn admits he 'accidentally' brought into the courtroom, and flashed the headline at the jury. By so doing, however, he sabotaged the likelihood that any later guilty verdict would be overturned on appeal, as he had "invited error."
The three bubblehead co-defendands didn't help matters when they rose up and chanted in unison: “Your honor, if the President thinks we’re guilty, why go on with the trial?”
The press and the historians have played the President's words as some dumb foot-in-mouth moment, but I think Nixon did that deliberately--to solidify in the public's mind that the villain was guilty. The statement was made just one month into the trial, before much of the damaging testimony against Charlie had come out, when many in the legal community thought there was a good chance Charlie would walk, and at a time when Charlie was considered a counter-cultural hero by some. Others also voiced this suspicion:
Robert Dallek, a presidential historian, said in an interview that Nixon’s comments, while seemingly a gaffe, reinforced his stance in the prevailing cultural wars and seemed calculated.
Paul Fitzgerald, attorney for Krenwinkel, also seemed to have doubts:
"Fitzgerald, when told the President’s secretary said Nixon intended to use the word “allegedly,” replied: “The President always strikes me as a man in control of his faculties.” "
The next day in chambers Kanarek charged the President with conspiracy. “The District Attorney of Los Angeles County is running for attorney general of California. I say it without being able to prove it, that Evelle Younger and the President got together to do this.”
As the District Attorney of Los Angeles County, Evelle Younger of course had a personal stake in the outcome, but why would the politicians in Washington give a damn whether Manson was found guilty, not guilty, or partly guilty? Did Younger call in a political marker(probably via Attorney General John Mitchell, who was standing next to Nixon when he made the statement)? Or did the Feds have their own reasons for wanting to make sure Manson went away for good? I suspect they did it to preclude the possibility that Charlie would at some point get out of jail/prison and start talking about the real motivations for the crime. He was a wild card, and he HAD to be silenced.
Attorney General John Mitchell
However it was done, it was a dirty little trick played on Charlie.