Martha Mitchell’s Revenge: Why the Watergate Wife Is Having a Moment


The Prescient Martha Mitchell

Martha sat down with the BBC’s David Frost in 1974, telling the journalist she was onto the shady behavior of Nixon’s men as far back as 1968, when her husband first served as his campaign manager before becoming attorney general. 

“But you see, I was brainwashed,” she explained. “I was told that this is what goes on in campaigns.”

She agreed with Frost’s take that her story about being kidnapped in 1972 was incredible. “The whole thing is incredible!” Martha exclaimed, throwing her hands up. “It’s like reading a James Bond novel. You can’t believe it. I can’t believe what’s happened to me.”

Martha had nothing to say about Nixon, but “as far as John Mitchell is concerned, as I said the other night in the States, he’s dead. Absolutely dead. He doesn’t exist.”

Before he could be impeached, Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974.

On Jan. 1, 1975, John Mitchell was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and perjury. Sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison, later reduced to one to four years, he ended up serving 19 months—not starting until June 2, 1977—in a minimum-security facility before being paroled due to health concerns.

“It could have been a hell of a lot worse,” he said at first. “They could have sentenced me to spend the rest of my life with Martha Mitchell.”

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