Remembering Jimmy Breslin's 1977 takedown of Frost and Nixon
Rumpled. Brash. Always trying to look at life through the lens of the common, working American. That was Jimmy Breslin. For more than five decades, Breslin was a fixture of New York journalism, notably for the New York Daily News.
Breslin died earlier this week in his New York City apartment. He was 88.
Breslin, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, once declared himself "the best person to ever have a column in this business."
Back in 1977, Breslin spoke with former As It Happens host Barbara Frum about the notorious Frost-Nixon interviews, a series of interviews conducted by British journalist David Frost that disgraced former-president Richard Nixon. Here's an excerpt from that conversation:
Barbara Frum: You know, I got the sense that Frost was just a frustrated DA [District Attorney] last night. He wanted to do the judging that a lot of people wanted to do.
JB: Frost is a frustrated disc jockey. Not even smart enough to be a DA. C'mon.
BF: What was the point of doing the show in your opinion, what's the point of skewering the man in public?
BF: Yeah, that's an interesting point, for that kind of money, that Nixon would humiliate himself again.
JB: He'd do it again next week! Pay him, he'll do anything. It's known as a whore, isn't it?
BF: It's interesting, isn't it, because he doesn't need it. He keeps professing to be interested in history but what does he need this for?
BF: There were so many questions last night, Mr. Breslin, that were begging to be asked, and weren't. At one point, Nixon said, "I know how I coulda gotten away with this, do you want to know how I coulda done it?" And it revealed endless months of second-guessing himself and Frost never plunged into that whole area.
JB: Sure. I mean, it's a basic thing, the man lied for 780 days. That's from the day of the burglary to the day he admitted his culpability in the whole cover-up. And never once did Frost grasp the magnitude of that, of a man lying to his country for that length of time. Now, as you're talking to him at this very moment, he barely admits he lied. He says, "One or two times I lied, I only did it to protect my friends." You know, that's the oldest thing in the world. "I done it for the wife and kids," the hold-up man said. C'mon.
To hear Barbara Frum's full conversation with Jimmy Breslin, click Listen.