Thursday, April 8, 2010

Martha Mitchell Effect -> “Martha's hysteria then was overt, but despite a certain amount of public skepticism, it turned out that her cries about official skulduggery had a solid basis in fact.” May 21, 1973 – TIME

The Martha Mitchell effect is a process by which a belief is mistakenly diagnosed as a delusion by a psychiatrist. This is named after Martha Beall Mitchell (the wife of John Mitchell, the Attorney-General in the Nixon administration) who alleged that illegal activity was taking place in the White House. At the time her claims were thought to be signs of mental illness, and only after the Watergate scandal broke was she proved right (and hence sane). Read more 

The Nation: The Misfortunes of Martha 
Monday, May 21, 1973 – TIME 

…The pressure inside Martha mounted for two days and finally erupted in another late-night phone call to Helen Thomas. While her twelve-year-old daughter Marty begged her not to talk, she said deliberately: "If my husband knew anything' about the Watergate breakin, Mr. Nixon also knew about it. I think he should say goodbye, to give credibility to the Republican Party and to the United States. I think he let the country down. Mr. President should retire." 

Next day John Mitchell issued a public statement berating U.P.I, for treating what Martha said as anything more than "fun and games." But Martha Mitchell obviously was, to the breaking point, totally in earnest.
 Read complete article - TIME ---- Photo LIFE - Martha Mitchell

The Nation: Will the Real Martha Mitchell Please Hang Up? 
July 02, 1973 – TIME

...Telltale blunders, however, gave the caller away. Though the accent sounded Southern, the voice was too gravelly with whisky, and the speech too ungrammatical, for Martha. The impostor went on to confess: "I am half drunk—I do drink a little bit. Why shouldn't I drink a little bit?" Anyone who has received a call from Martha Mitchell knows that she consistently denies having downed a drop of alcohol before getting on the phone. The impersonator said she had attended the state dinner for Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev the night before (actually, Martha was at her Manhattan apartment), and expressed genuine fondness for Pat Nixon (who, in point of fact, has infuriated Martha). Strangest of all, the woman offered this defense for John Mitchell's innocence: "My husband is so stupid he hasn't got sense enough to know whether it is raining or snowing outside. He couldn't have done all these things." Read complete article TIME  

An excerpt from the book - 
Front Row At The White House - My Life And Times 
by Helen Thomas, Scribner, 1999

from pages 203-204

    In December 1971 a wire story ran about Vice President Spiro Agnew's gag Christmas gift list. Included on the list were: "For Martha Mitchell, a brand-new Princess phone. For John Mitchell, a padlock for a brand-new Princess phone."

 "Why did Martha Mitchell call you?" someone asked me after I filed my first story based on one of her many telephone calls in which she expressed her outraged a few days after the Watergate break-in.

I wasn't the only reporter she called, but I did take her seriously and I wrote about what she told me. Sometimes the stories made it to the wire and sometimes they go spiked. But Martha perhaps put the answer best herself when she told an interviewer, "Helen knows me well enough to know I'm not going to give her a line of bull. We just kind of fell into each other's arms. Several other reporters had been recommended to me, but when I talked to them they were cold fish. They were calculating, and, I thought, unwilling to stick their necks out. Helen Thomas, I knew would print the truth no matter what it cost her personally, and I wanted the truth to be known."(1)

I don't think the dust will ever entirely settle on the Watergate scandal, but I do think Martha deserves more than a footnote in its history. She should be remembered as the woman who tried to blow the whistle on what was going on, but sometimes her stories seemed so out there, it was close to impossible to get anyone to listen. However, I listened and I wrote and I'll let history decide.

I do remember her telling me early on in her time in Washington, "Politics is a dirty business," and I remember equally well a memorable remark her husband made shortly after they arrived: "Watch what we do, not what we say." Read more - Front Row At The White House - My Life And Times by Helen Thomas -- book --- Photo 

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“Someday, maybe, there will exist a well-informed, well considered and yet fervent public conviction that the most deadly of all possible sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit.” Erik Erikson

Kids Are Being Hurt!!!

…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

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