redfeth.gif (6856 bytes)ARCHIVES

of  the


of the



No. 007






Distributed as part of the
TRANSFORMING SOCIOLOGY SERIES of The Red Feather Institute, 8085 Essex, Weidman, Michigan, 48893.


Some could gaze and not be sick
But I could never learn the trick.
There's this to say for guile and guise
They often bring their own surprise.
               ...adapted from Housman

Dramatizing Social Reality  
Dramaturgical analysis is an analytic framework dealing with 
the ways in which social reality is constructed.  The major assumption of a
depoliticized dramaturgical analysis is that elements from the
theatre may be used as metaphor by which to understand the folk
methods by which social reality is constructed in everyday life. 
The radical approach rejects the notion of dramaturgy as metaphor
and views dramaturgy as ideology used, in its repressive modes, to
construct a fraudulent "social" life-world.  
     The utility of the elements of theatre as analytic categories
with which to do a qualitative analysis is not in dispute as
between conservative and radical practitioners of the art. 
Costumes, roles, actors, scripts, directors, cues, rehearsals,
audiences, performances, impressions given off, props, critics,
editings and dramatic moments serve us well whether we are trying
to understand the funeral as theatre or the market as make-believe. 
     Where radical and conservative analyses do part company is in
the question of whether the world of theatre is a convenient
heuristic device with which to understand how social reality is
constructed by intending human beings...or whether the art, craft,
and skill of the artisans from the world of "just pretend" are
actively engaged in mediating human behavior in the marketplace,
polity, welfare and other institutions.  
     The position advanced here is that "metaphor" transforms into
ideology the moment a dramatist hires out to a manager to shape the
behavior and consciousness of human beings in the production of
social relationships.
Politics, Ideology and the Creation of Culture.   
In the analysis  which follows, one feature of the dramaturgical format 
is especially central to an understanding of the adoption of the theatrical 
format in the world of politics:  the political mass audience, as a structural 
feature of theatre, is generated out of a mass society as a solution to the
problem of legitimacy in a stratified society.  In American politics, 
dramaturgy is used to create a mass political audience with 
which to garner political power and to marshall political legitimacy.
Structural Sources of Political Dramaturgy   The mass political                                          
audience is a logical replacement for the interactive political
party since it is a form by which a few political leaders can
manage the behavior of the mass of voters as the problem of
legitimacy grows.  The mass audience is preferable as a mediator of
political behavior in that a mass audience is even more passive in
the creation of culture (art, music, drama, ideology, policies,
science and literature) than is the traditional political party.
     Traditional political parties have several disadvantages: 
they tend to respond to local needs; they tend to be controlled by
local politicians who restrict access to its power in order to get
advantage for self or client; they tend to make politics messy by
presenting conflicting demands on national politicians; and they
embody political principles which often get in the way of executive
     A mass political audience is much less messy.  Such an
audience can be generated on the bases of very few unproblematic
causes: patriotism, family values, crime, sexual probity, capital
punishment and God.  A wealthy candidate can appeal directly for
political power without connections to party or faction...can run
for national office without serving time in the ranks and forging
the ties so essential to nominations and support.  
     A mass political audience is composed of disassociated
individuals who base their political opinions on privatized
advantage extending not much further than the family system.  In
such a political system, the private viewing in the home suffices
to the demands of citizenship...it is the very cheapest price one
can pay for citizenship.  
     In a society where individualism trumps collective needs, such
a system answers to the political impulse.  Without a good and
comprehensive health care system, retirement system, transport
system, educational system or housing programs, prudent persons
must think first of themselves.  Prudent persons must reduce
politics to private advantage and personal issues.
     In a society where most major decisions are made in the
private sphere: interest rates, investment plans, pollution
practices, pricing policy, job expansion, educational projects,
location of medical practices and a thousand other market
decisions...in such a system where there is no effective national
policy, the prudent person tries to work the system of mass
politics as much as possible.  
Strong Presidency; Weak Polity     
Mass-mediated politics, then, make it much easier for power to
be concentrated in the office of a president.  Without the
collectivity exercising power to offset that of a president, such
a president can depoliticize the economic facts of life by a policy
of privatization...yielding to the marketplace and to quasi-
monopolies.  In such a political system, housing, health care,
employment, interest rates, educational, transportation, investment
and pollution decisions are made at state level if at all in any
public forum.  
     Capitalism, as a system, requires that most production and
distribution policies be made in the private sphere.  Capitalists
put together shifting coalitions of corporate power blocs with
which to control the sector of the political economy of interest to
them.  Capitalists use a bit of surplus value with which to
preselect Congresspersons [over 95% of whom are reelected each term
with the aid of such money], to preselect congenial presidential
candidates and to oppose tax policy...especially at the federal
     In the U.S., where the costs of capitalism are escalating with
the loss of foreign markets to Japan, Germany and the socialist
"conspiracy," more and more of the funding of politicians by
corporations place more and more politicians in the service of
corporate capitalism thereby exacerbating the conflict between the
public and the politician.  The financial dependence of the poli-
tician upon the corporation renders the political party, even with
its limitations in the creation of political culture, a liability. 
     At the same time, the ability of the capitalist state to fund
the programs of social justice in America...mean spirited and
cheapjack as they are...puts political legitimacy in scarce supply. 
Dramaturgy can help redeem the bought politician as well as the
failed promises of social justice for all.  
     The mass political audience, as a passive consumer of expertly
packaged political culture prepared by a highly selective tightly
controlled advertising agency, is more manageable than a party, the
members of which can get out of hand and respond to the crises in
capitalist in ways awkward to power, wealth and privilege.
     In foreign affairs, the needs of semi-monopoly capital
requires a very, very strong presidency unshackled by public
opinion.  Mass opinion, the opinion of persons taken one at a time,
is preferable to the interactionally rich and the informationally
rich politics of a truly public opinion policy process in that such
semi-citizens get excited only about narrowly focussed issues. 
Foreign policy questions are beyond the scope of concern for most
persons taken one at a time...they are interested in mortgage
payments, food prices, interest rates and next year's
automobile...marketplace questions outside the purview of a
depoliticized polity.
     With the aid of the C.I.A., the State Department, various
special services of the military, international aid agencies, and
foreign mercenaries, the strong president can supervise the welfare
of the world capitalist system giving American capitalists and
American workers a slight edge in the international marketplace. 
Thus, the president of the United States abrogates that presidency,
turning the country over to the capitalist class and power blocs at
the state level while assuming the Presidency of the World
Capitalist System.
Law and Theatre. 
   Many have noted the curious mix of lawyers and
public relations persons involved in the Nixon
approach to governance.  The mix is thought to be puzzling in that
lawyers are seen to deal with serious matters while P.R. people are
known to practice the dramaturgical arts without restraint. 
Lawyers deal in real life matters: crime, divorce, real estate
transactions, contracts, torts, and wills.  Public relations people
are much closer to the world of make-believe and just-pretend. 
They make their clients look good and help them pretend to be
something more than they are.
     A closer look suggests there are formal affinities between
lawyers and P.R. men not often aired.  Both professions deal in
social paradigms whose reality quotient is problematic; both are
charged to frame a scenario of explanation favorable to their
client; both have to operate in a forum where much is at stake;
life, power, limb, property and social esteem.  Both must deal with
a tough jury.  Both work with a fund of knowledge which is
imprecise and contradictory.  The natural talents of people in the
law as well as people in public relations lend themselves to
service in a dramaturgical politics.
     Both the lawyer and the public relations person attempt to
counter evidence that the actions of each client are in conflict
with the interests of the general or special public.  Both are
dealing with unknown others whose position in the social order
place them far enough from the backstage such that they have only
limited technical competence to judge actions against visible
standards of performance.  The particular mix of lawyers and P.R.
persons has a sound social rational in terms of the division of
     While publicists have expertise in constructing an original
social paradigm in which the clients' actions are to be understood
as functional; the lawyer has expertise in opposing a social
paradigm in which the clients' actions are understood as
harmful.  The lawyer helps create an alternate, probable social
paradigm in which the clients' actions are to be understood as
innocent of social injury.  
     The interpretation made in the following analysis is that
there were two social paradigms under construction by the Nixon
team:  an official, publicly visible paradigm in which the values
of a democratic society are sustained and a second, nonvisible
social paradigm which was bracketed from and which superseded the
public paradigm under construction by the public relations
     Much of what transpired in the various Watergate hearings may
be understood as a contest between the Nixon team to enforce the
first paradigm while the efforts of Judge Sirica, various congress
persons and the special attorney were to reconstruct and make
visible the second paradigm.  In the end, power determined which
social paradigm was adopted--Mr. Nixon resigned before the climax
occurred; a very poor show from a dramaturgical point of view.
BACKSTAGE AT THE WHITE HOUSE       The transcripts of the White                                
House tapes of the Watergate and allied affairs provide a rich
source of materials for dramaturgical analysis.  At almost every
meeting of Mr. Nixon and his aides, considerations about how best
to manage impressions, stage events, cast persons in given roles,
rewrite various events, downplay intent, upstage an investigatory
body or create diverting drama are to be found.  
     In this section, the central problematic is to lay out, in
qualitative terms, the way in which theatre is made to interface
with politics in the Nixon White House.  In the last section, the
problematic will be to account for that interface...under what
social conditions does theatre come to be deployed in the sociology
of fraud; political fraud in this case.
     The Watergate hearings constituted a source of great concern
to the Nixon team.  The tapes of White House conversations of 28
February, 1973 reveal that the central concern was to stage a
production which would protect the political legitimacy of Nixon
and, by extension, his policies at home and abroad.  In the final
part of this essay, I will present some estimate how very important
were those policies to the survival of the world capitalist system.
Staging Political Reality     In the first excerpt, John Dean,                            
legal counsel to the President, is concerned with the pace of the
D.   Here it is.  You see, the Baker theory is that he wants to
     have a big slambang thing for a whole week and then he thinks
     interest in the whole thing will fall off.  And he is right
     about that.  But his interest in having a big slambang for a
     week is that we will bring all the big shots up right away. 
     The big shots you could bring up.  They could bring up Stans. 
     They have to put him on, and they've got to put Mitchell on. 
     They would like, of course, to get Haldeman, Ehrlichman and
     In order to counter the efficacy of the opposition in making
the backstage paradigm visible, in the same meeting, Dean suggests
the Nixon team move to stage the hearing in the most boring way
D.   I think it would take a lot of the teeth out of the--you know-
     -the stardom of the people are trying to build up to.  If
     Stans has already gone to a hearing in another committee,
     obviously they will use everything they have at that time and
     it won't be a hell of a lot.  It confuses the public.  The
     public is bored with this thing already.
P.  Yeah.
     In the next excerpt, Nixon and Dean interpret the actions of
the Kennedy team as also engaging in stage-managing.  For modern
political functionaries at the federal level, all politics is a
stage production directed by elected and non-elected power brokers.
D.   I am convinced that he has shown that he is merely a puppet
     for Kennedy in this whole thing.  The fine hand of the
     Kennedys' is behind this whole hearing. There is no doubt
     about it. When they considered the resolution on the Floor of
     the Senate I got the record out to read it.  Who asked special
     permission to have their staff man on the floor?  Kennedy
     brings this man Flug out on the floor when they are debating
     a resolution.  He is the only one who did this.  It has been
     Kennedy's push quietly, his constant investigation.  His
     committee did the (unintelligible) subpoenas to get at
     Kalmbach and all these people.
     The excerpt above makes it clear that the dynamics of
governance in Washington is concerned as much with the politics of
reality staging as with the values implicit in the democratic
paradigm:  undistorted communication between government and public,
full participation in policy formulation; justice and honesty in
the use of power.  The ideology of theatre is seen to trump the
ideology of democracy.
     With respect to the casting of the actors; the February 28
tapes show Nixon suggesting that Kalmbach will make a good witness,
Colson cast as a "presidential advisor" (in order that he may
properly decline to testify on grounds of executive privilege).  
     Mr. Nixon suggests Mr. Stans as a leading man since "Stans is
very clean." In this backstage conference, the Nixon team is trying
to protect the more vulnerable actors off stage.  Colson can be
cast as an aide to Nixon but Chapin cannot be since, as Nixon
points out, it would be an obvious fraud to cast both as aides.
Managing Impressions: Studying Lines
  In the March 13 meeting, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Dean were concerned 
about how best to manage the impression of cooperation.  In
the social paradigm held to be normal as between a president and
the public, the president is expected to be responsible for
enforcing the laws.  In the course of events, the Senate Committee
has taken the initiative and Mr. Nixon is faced with the difficult
task of creating an appearance of cooperating with a lawful
investigation without much in the way of substance offered.  
     The audience to be impressed with this cooperation is not the
Senate Committee but rather the American public.  The gambit used
is a particularly happy one; it is to not "interfere" with the
Committee.  The script calls for Mr. Nixon to not comment because
that is the Committee's responsibility.  Mr. Nixon is to feign a
wish to not compromise the integrity of a Senate Proceeding.  
     The next effect of these presentments is to convince the
public that the normal social paradigm remains intact.  In the
excerpt below, Mr. Nixon goes over his lines:
P.   I am not going to comment on something being investigated by
     the Committee.  As I have already indicated, I am just not
     going to comment.  Do you approve such tactics?  Another
     question --?  
D.   Did Mr. Chapin's departure have something to do with his
     involvement with Mr. Segretti?
P.   (inaudible) What about Mr. Dean?  My position is the same.  We
     have cooperated with the Justice Department, the FBI--
     completely tried to furnish information under our control in
     this matter.  We will cooperate with the committee under the
     rules I have laid down in my statement on executive privilege.
      Now what else?
D.   Well, then you will get a barrage of questions probably, on
     will you supply--will Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr.
     Dean go up to the committee and testify?
P.   No, absolutely not.
D.   Mr. Colson?
P.   No, absolutely not.  It isn't a question of not--Ziegler or
     somebody had said that we in our executive privilege statement
     it was interpreted as meaning that we would not furnish
     information and all that.  We said we will furnish information
     and all that.  We said we will furnish information, but we are
     not going to be called to testify.  That is the position. 
     Dean and all the rest will grant  you information. 
     Won't you?
D.   Yes.  Indeed I will!
Diverting Horribles      In the background of every administration,
                         there are some events which cast doubt on
the degree to which that administration honors the publicly known
and cherished political paradigm.  
     Mr. Dean suggests that release of some previous "horribles"
would be helpful.  Not only is attention diverted from Watergate
but Watergate could be understood as well within the normal
paradigm: break-ins and other crimes are a routine, if
unpublicized, White House practice.  Nixon and Dean want to control
drama and intrigue in their production of the Watergate Scandals. 
The dramatic values of the opposing cast and crew are to be
diminished and their production is to fail in Peoria.
13 March, 1973 Meeting:
D.   Now the other thing, if we were going to use a package like
     this:  Let's say in the Gray hearings--where everything is
     cast that we are the political people and they are not--that
     Hoover was above reproach, which is just not accurate, total
     (bullshit).  The person who would destroy Hoover's image is
     going to be this man Bill Sullivan.  Also it is going to
     tarnish quite severely . . .
P.   Some of the FBI.
D.   . . . Some of the FBI.  And a former president.  He is going
     to lay it out, and just all hell is going to break loose once
     he does it.  It is going to change the atmosphere of the Gray
     hearings and it is going to change the atmosphere of the whole
     Watergate hearings.  Now the risk . . .
P.   How will it change?
D.   Because it will put them in context of where government
     institutes were used in the past for the most flagrant
     political purposes.
P.   How can that help us?  How does it help us?
P.   I am being the devil's advocate . . .
D.   I appreciate what you are doing.  It is a red herring.  It is
     what the public already believes.  I think the people would
     react:  (expletive deleted), more of that stuff!  They are all
     bad down there!  Because it is a one way street right now . .
P.   Do you think the press would use it?  They may not play it. 
D.   It would be difficult not to.  Ah, it would be difficult not
     The shabby morals of Dean and Nixon are revealed in an effort
to gain political advantage by pointing to others with the same
shabby morals.
Casting Bit Players:  (Herb) Kalmbach, Mitchell, and Stans.
13 March, 1973 Meeting:
P.  Anyway we don't want to back off of him.
D.  No, he is solid.
P.   He will--how does he tell his story?    He has a pretty hard
     row to hoe--he and Stans have.
D.   He will be good.  Herb is the kind of guy who will check, not
     once or twice, on his story--not three times--but probably
     fifty to a hundred times.  He will go over it.  He will know
     it.  There won't be a hole in it.  Probably he will do his own
     Q & A.  He will have people cross-examine him from ten ways. 
     He will be ready as John Mitchell will be ready, as Maury
     Stans will be ready.
P.   Mitchell is studying, is he?
D.   He is studying.  Sloan will be the worst witness.  I think
     Magruder will be a good witness.  This fellow, Bart Porter,
     will be a good witness.  They have already been through grand
     jury.  They have been through trial.  They did well.
     Not only may one rely upon Mr. Stans, Mr. Mitchell and others
to study their lines well; some of them have had extensive
experience on the witness stand and will not be likely to blow
their lines.        
          I'll tell you whose not informed.  It's those 
          stupid kids.  They pick the rhetoric that they
          want to hear right off the top of an issue and
          never finish reading to the bottom.  And the
          professors are just as bad if not worse.  They
          don't know anything.  Nor do these stupid
          bastards who are ruining our educational
                              ...Atty General John Mitchell
     It is not apparent in these excerpts but later on in his own
appearance before the Senate Select Committee, Mr. Dean reports
that he coached many of the witnesses at length how to give the
semblance of credibility using information from within the Grand
Jury obtained from the Justice Department.  Mr. Dean himself did
not follow the White House script and gave forth a story which
compromised that script.  
     The two stories together, the official version of the Nixon
production team and that of Mr. Dean exemplifies divergence between
the social paradigm held forth for public accountability by the
Nixon team and that paradigm of the unaccountable exercise of
partisan power to subvert the democratic process, narrow as it is.
Mocking up an Investigation   
On the 20th of March, 1973, it became clear to Mr. Nixon that executive
privilege meant executive silence.  Such silence did not sit well
with the various audiences attending to the drama unfolding.  The
press was constructing an interpretation of sinister involvement by
the entire White House.  The friends of the administration needed
some talking points.  It would be difficult to speak to one public
and not to another, so the idea of a spurious, well contained
investigation was proposed by Mr. Nixon.  
     This was to be the Dean Report but Mr. Dean, later, decided to
protect himself.  It then became the Ehrlichman Investigation. 
These mock-up had only short runs since other, less contrived,
investigations rendered them useless.  However, it is clear in this
excerpt that a cover-up is in progress.
     At one point, Dean suggests a useful prop...a piece of paper
that appears to be a legitimate exercise of Executive Privilege but
is really part of the backstage handlings of impressions for a mass
political audience.  Nixon approves.
20 March, 1973 Meeting:
P.   You've got to have something where it doesn't appear that I am
     doing this in, you know, just in a--saying to hell with the
     Congress and to hell with the people, we are not going to tell
     you anything because of executive privilege.  That they don't
     understand.  But if you say, "No, we are willing to" and
     you've made a complete statement, but make it very incomplete. 
     See, that is what I mean.  I don't want a, too much in chapter
     and verse as you did in your letter, I just want just a
D.   An all around statement.
P.   That's right.  Try just something general.  Like "I have
     checked into this matter; I can categorically, based on my
     investigation, the following:  Haldeman is not involved in
     this, that and the other thing.  Mr. Colson did not do this;
     Mr. so and so did not do this.  Mr. Blank did not do this'
     Right down the line, taking the most glaring things.  If there
     are any further questions, please let me know.  See?
D.   Uh, huh.  I think we can do that.
P.   That is one possibility and then you could say that such . .
     It might be very salutary.  You see our own people have got to
     have confidence or they are not going to step up and defend
     us.  You see our problem there, don't you?
D.   And I think at the same time it would be good to brief these
     people on what executive privilege means, so they can go out
     and speak about it.  Some of them are floundering.
P.   And why it is necessary.
D.   I thought about having someone prepare some material that can
     be put out by the congressional people so they can understand,
     people can understand.  It is tremendous to have a piece of
     paper that they know they can talk from.
P.   Pointing out that you are defending the Constitution;
     responsibility of the separation of powers; and we have to do
     This excerpt reveals some of the dynamics at work.  Central to
these is that reality compromises the political legitimacy of
Nixon; that make-believe is preferable to an authentic version of
Watergate and that Mr. Nixon had departed from his role as
something understood to be a president to something more akin to a
And an Image of National Security  
The simplistic politics of mass audiences responds very nicely
to patriotic themes in such plays.  The script writers include this
gambit in order to make the Watergate Scandal invisible.  
21 March, 1973 Meeting:
D.  I talked to Liddy once right after the incident.
P.   The point is this, that it is now time, though, that Mitchell
     has got to sit down, and know where the hell all this thing
     stands, too.  You see, John is concerned, as you know, about
     the Ehrlichman situation.  It worries him a great deal
     because, and this is why the Hunt problem is so serious,
     because it had nothing to do with the campaign.  It has to do
     with the Ellsberg case.  I don't know what the hell the
H.  But what I was going to say--
P.   What is the answer on this?  How you keep it out, I don't
     know.  You can't keep it out if Hunt talks.  You can see the
     point is irrelevant.  It has gotten to this point.
D.  You might put it on a national security grounds basis.
H.  It absolutely was.
P.   National security.  We had to get information for national
     security grounds.
P.   With the bombing thing coming out and everything coming out,
     the whole thing . . I think we could get by on that.
P.   On that one I think we should simply say this was a national
     security investigation that was conducted.  And on that basis,
     I think the same in the drug field with Krogh.  Krogh could
     say feels he did not perjure himself.  He could say it was a
     national security matter. 
P.   Bud should just say it was a question of national security,
     and I was not in a position to divulge it.  Anyway, let's
     don't go beyond that.  But I do think now there is a time when
     you just don't want to talk to Mitchell.  But John is right. 
     There must be a four way talk of the particular ones you can
     trust here.  We've got to get a decision on it.  It is not
     something--you have two ways basically.  You really only have
     two ways to go.  You either decide that the whole (expletive
     deleted) this is so full of problems with potential criminal
     liabilities, which most concern me.  I don't give a damn about
     the publicity.  We could rock that through that if we had to
     let the whole damn thing hang out, and it would be a lousy
     story for a month.  But I can take it.  The point is, that I
     don't want any criminal liabilities.  That is the thing that
     I am concerned about for members of the White House staff, and
     I would trust for members of the Committee [to reelect the
     President: it was the group which engineered the break-in at
     Watergate].  And that means Magruder.
Morality and Theatre    
 Mr. Nixon, Mr. Dean, Mr. Ehrlichman and
 Mr. Haldeman were not entirely frank with
Mr. Kliendienst, Mr. Ford, or Mr. Peterson.  The backstage use of
these men for dramaturgical purposes underscores the extent to
which techne triumphs over praxis.  Praxis refers to conscious,
self-controlled acting as contrasted to techne, a blind, externally
motivated behavior in the classic Greek distinction.  Those persons
used by the stage managers become a mere technical apparatus.  
     Much of the criticism directed at the indicated felons by
Judge Sirica has to do with their moral responsibility to transcend
orders and to act autonomously or to transcend position and
evaluate the moral standing of orders.  Herein lies a central
danger of a dramaturgical society; in the marketplace, in the
classroom, in law, religion, and politics, the staging of behavior
of masses of people constitute an assault on human dignity not yet
understood by the psychologists, sociologists, P.R. and advertising
people so enthusiastically involved in such endeavor. 
     Morality lodges as much in the larger structures of society as
it does in the psyche of the individual.  When players are the
puppets of playwrights, then the morality of the play is the
morality of the writer; not the players...the players yield their
morality and their human dignity.
     The two social paradigms at conflict are seen side-by-side in
the final soliloquy, above, of Mr. Nixon.  He begins to say there
are two ways to proceed--by the time he has finished the sentence,
he has specified both ways to himself, evaluated both, and
discarded one.  By the time he has verbalized the one involving
"criminal liabilities," to be completely open and go with the
paradigm of law, order, and executive responsibility he has
rejected it.  The real point is that he doesn't want criminal
liabilities irrespective of the liability incurred under the public
paradigm of law and order.
     If there is any place at which Mr. Nixon's decision to cover
up is clear, it is in this passage.  So the backstaging at the
White House takes the James Bond route and scripts the events "as
if" they were done for reasons of national security.  That this is
a post hoc scripting may be understood from the conditional mood of
Mr. Dean's remarks and those of Mr. Nixon.  The standard use of
"might say" and "could say" indicates that these things were not
said or even thought prior to the event but rather are adduced
after the fact as plausible ways to construct the legal meaning of
the activity of Mr. Colson.
Staging the Investigation    
 Although some effort was given by the White House to stage manage the
Senate Hearings, no one seriously believed that Senator Ervin,
Senator Weicker, the investigatory staff and others could be
"wired" completely.  At the 21 March, 1973 meeting, Mr. Nixon
inquired as to the possibility of a special Grand Jury.  The point
of the Grand Jury was to establish a forum in which events could be
managed and information withheld from the Senate Select Committee. 
     And, of course, grand jury proceedings are secret; one has a
right to take the 5th Amendment; one has the right to legal counsel
and it is much better than a hearing open to reporters and the
21 March 1973
P.   John Ehrlichman, of course, has raised the point of another
     grand jury.  I just don't know how you could do it.  On what
     basis.  I could call for it, but I--
D.   That would be out of the question.
P.   I hate to leave with differences in view of all this stripped
     land.  I could understand this, but I think I want another
     grand jury proceeding and we will have the White House appear
     before them.  Is that right John?
D.   Uh huh.
P.   That is the point, see.  Of course!  That would make the
     difference.  I want everybody in the White House called.  And
     that gives you a reason not to have to go before the Ervin and
     Baker Committee.  It puts it in the executive session, in a
H.   Right.
D.   That's right.
H.   And there would be some rules of evidence, aren't there?
D.   There are rules of evidence.
P.   Rules of evidence and you have lawyers.
H.   You are in a hell of a lot better position than you are up
D.   No, you can't have a lawyer before the grand jury.
P.   Oh, no.  That's right.
H.   But you do have rules of evidence.  You can refuse to talk.
D.   You can take the 5th Amendment.
P.   That's right.
H.   You can say you have forgotten too, can't you?
D.   Sure but you are chancing a very high risk for a perjury
P.   But you can say, I don't remember.  You can say I can't
     recall.   I can't give any answer to that I can recall.
H.   You have the same perjury thing on the Hill don't you.
D.  That's right.
P.  Oh hell, yes.
H.   And the Ervin Committee is a hell of a lot worse to deal with.
P.   The grand jury thing has its own view of this thing.  Suppose
     we have a grand jury thing.  What would that do to the Ervin
     Committee?  Would it go right ahead?
D.  Probably.  Probably.
     Given the stagings of something to be entitled a Grand Jury,
the question arises of casting the male lead:
P.   If we do that on a grand jury, we would then have a much
     better cause in terms of saying, "Look, this is a grand jury,
     in which the prosecutor--How about a special prosecutor?  We
     could use Petersen, or use another one.  You see he is
     probably suspect.  Would you call in another prosecutor?
D.   I would like to have Petersen on our side, if I did this
P.   Well, Petersen is honest.  There isn't anybody about to
     question him is there?
     The script depended upon Mr. Nixon having control of the
Special Prosecutor of the Grand Jury.  Mr.  Petersen's honesty
together with deference to authority would be most useful to a
carefully controlled "Grand Jury Investigation."  As with other
stagings, this one was counterproductive.  Mr. Petersen was not
installed as the star of the show; Mr. Cox proved ungovernable; Mr. 
Dworsky took Mr. Nixon to court to produce evidence and the Supreme
Court would not validate the social paradigm of an autonomous
president unaccountable save the most extreme remedy; impeachment
for High Crimes.
     Values of justice, of legal accountability, of public
accountability,  of separation of the executive and judicial
branches are, in this setting in hostile opposition to the values
of in-group loyalty, protection of agency, as well as the
credibility of Mr. Nixon.  The solution to this conflict is a
dramaturgically engineered investigation which provides the
illusion that there is no such conflict in values.  
     Later, when this stagemanaging fails, Mr. Nixon attempts to
obliterate the value conflict by appealing to different values, his
personal relationship with the Soviet leadership and the crucial
factor that relationship plays in keeping the peace as well as the
interest of the public in a strong, unsullied presidency.  Mr.
Nixon argues, in sum, that a social paradigm centered around
national security from the communist menace is preferable to one
centered around the democratic process.  One is therefore expected
to accept the dramaturgy of Mr. Nixon even though one knows the
account has been manufactured on a post hoc basis.
A Facsimile of Bold Disclosure     One option suggested as                                
stageworthy was the possibility of a Dean Report. It would have the
dramatic effect of boldness and a built-in guarantee of protection
for Mr. Nixon if it collapsed as a believable performance.  The
"Dean Report" tactic as a containing operation is discussed at
several points, backstage and front stage as well.  At no point was
this script intended to be compatible with a social paradigm of
authentic agency by the President on behalf of fair trial and equal
standing before the law for all the President's men involved.  
     It was always compatible with the social paradigm of
unconstrained presidential power.
     As between the alternatives, the "Dean Report" is preferable
since it is less likely to collapse and has the F.B.I., together
with unnamed others, as scapegoats upon whom Nixon might rely.  The
backstage context that their testimony was coached would not appear
in the public version.
21 March, 1973
H.   After a little time, the President is accused of covering up
     that way.
E.   Or is there another way?
P.   Yeah, like...
E.   The Dean statements, where the President then makes a bold
     disclosure of everything which he then has.  And is in a
     position if it does collapse at a later time to say "I had the
     FBI and the grand jury, and I had my own counsel.  I turned
     over every document I could find.  I placed in my confidence
     young people and as is obvious now (inaudible).
     In the Ehrlichman plot, the President looks good as something
called a President since he is to appear to take the initiative in
rooting out crime in the White House...and there is a built-in
ending in which Mr. Nixon says, sadly,  "I put my trust in these
young people and they betrayed that trust...whatever can one do
with such scoundrels?"
     The parts cast for Mr. Dean, and later Mr. Ehrlichman, were
never to be part of a self-fulfilling prophecy by which later
behavioral events were to match to prophecy of truth, integrity,
and justice in the public statements of Mr. Nixon about the Dean
"Report" or the Ehrlichman Report.  These values were to be
dramaturgically simulated while other values; in-group loyalty, a
strong presidency, and a favorable verdict on the Nixon tenure in
office by historians were prime values.  
     There was a hierarchy in the last set of values listed with
Mr. Nixon's historical image accorded prime standing.
The Play's The Thing; Wherein We'll Keep the Safety of the King. 
     The magnitude of the discrepancy between the social drama
prophesied in Mr. Nixon's public statements about the meaning of
the Dean Report and intended action is seen when, in the same
conversation in which the spurious Dean Report is proposed by Mr.
Nixon, there follows a discussion of:
          "cutting it (off) at Liddy," 
          "total control and commitment over all of the (Watergate)
          "giving Hunt $110,000 to get that control, avoiding
          criminal liability for those close to the presidency,
          keeping it off Herb (Kalmbach), off of Bob (Haldeman),
          off Chapin, and, if possible, off Strachan and off
     For the most part it is Nixon who makes these points.  The
technical problem in achieving this protection of the inner circle
of the White House is Mr. Magruder.  In that 21 March conversation,
Mr. Nixon understands that silence from the Watergate burglars can
be bought for around $1,000,000; that after the Nixon team is out
of office their silence becomes less a political problem.
                    As my husband has said many times, some of the
                    liberals in this country, he's like to take
                    them and exchange them for Russian Communists
                                        Martha Mitchell
21 March, 1973 Meeting:
D.   That's right.  Let's face it. I think Magruder is the major
     guy over there.
H.  I think he's got the most serious problem.
P.  Yeah.
H.   Well, the thing we talked about yesterday.  You have a
     question, where you cut off on this.  There is a possibility
     of cutting it at Liddy, where you are now.
P.   Yeah.
D.   But to accomplish that requires a continued perjury by
     Magruder and requires...
P.   And requires total commitment and control over all of the
     defendants which in other words when they are let down...
H.   But we can, because they don't know anything beyond Liddy.
D.   No.  On the fact that Liddy they have hearsay.
H.   But we don't know about Hunt.  Maybe Hunt has that tied into
     Colson.  [Charles Colson is part of the inner circle...he
     later goes to jail; gets converted to religion and goes on the
     Bible circuit].
P.  I think Hunt knows a hell of a lot more.
     Nixon's response was to explore the possibilities of Mr.
Magruder's being compromised...and thus unreliable rather than the
possibilities of the public interest being served by such
testimony.  Mr. Nixon had his best shot at the "bold disclosure,"
the "full" cooperation at which he had made public reference.    How-
ever, in the evening of 21 March, $75,000 was delivered to the
lawyer for Mr. Hunt.  This behavioral event invalidated the
prophecy implicit in Mr. Nixon's public use of the Dean Report. 
Mr. Nixon's instruction to Mr. Dean to keep the report general; to
say that so-and-so did not do this, that so-and-so did not do that
also belied the prophecy given out to the public that someone
called a president will make a thorough investigation.  
     The fact that the results of that investigation are scripted
before it occurs - in the face of repeated statements by Dean, Gray
and others that so-and-so is most certainly culpable only adds
emphasis to the fraudulent character of Mr. Nixon's "bold"
disclosures on stage.
The Sociology of Fraud: Theory and Practice
Had Mr. Nixon's audience understood
that his bold disclosures were only carefully crafted
images, and had they shared values with him (as did 
many conservative groups), the substantive
emptiness of the image of honesty and justice would not be
offensive any more than would an audience be offended by a stage
presentation of "Oedipus Rex." 
     We know that the character playing Oedipus does not really
kill the character playing the father of Oedipus in that play nor
does he really have incestuous relations with his own mother.  We
know that the actors are only playing a role.  The emptiness of
images, prophesies, illusions, and semblances is not an exercise in
the sociology of fraud, there is no discrepancy of values; no
systematic distortion of the knowledge process.
     When both discrepancies occur together, value discrepancy and
empty prophecy in the context of a social paradigm, then the
sociology of fraud obtains.  
                         The dualistic nature of subjective
                         knowledge and objective reality is, in
                         the sociology of fraud, a human artifact.
     The theoretical speculations of the symbolic interactional
school relating to the necessary role of prophecies in the
construction of social reality no longer hold.  The theoretical
speculations of the dramaturgists with respect to the role of play,
games, and simulations in the construction of social reality no
longer hold.  The value discrepancy destroys the very social
paradigm under construction rather than sustains it as would be the
case in a 'real' stage play.
Make Believe and Social Facticity  

There are interesting exceptions to the destructive potential of
images in social life, not relevant to the White House actions.  In
the opening phase of face-to-face social encounters, one often must
simulate interest, concern, understanding as well as pleasure in
states of copresence.  This simulation of reality ordinarily fades
as, through ongoing symbolic interaction, shared interests and
meanings and states of emotional orientation are indeed
constructed...one gradually comes to be glad to know another
                                             Thus are social
                                             facts born of
                                             fictive acts.
     In this exception, however this is no great value discrepancy. 
People do share the same values and can check out subsequent
actions of social others for compatibility with those values in
routine social life.  Deception often is prelude to
authenticity...however, backstage at the White House, it is
unrelieved treason to democratic values and Constitutional
protections.  Mr. Nixon knows this.  He resigns rather than risk
being held in account for his part in the subversion of democratic
A Dean Masquerade   

Mr. Dean has several roles in the Nixon stage managing team
If Mr. Nixon is the producer, Mr. Dean is the director in the Watergate 
cover-up; he is also cast as a special presidential investigator.  
In the former role, he needs political protection; in the latter role, 
he needs credibility.  In order to serve these values, a third role is 
cast for him; that of Presidential Counsel.  
     He has been, in name and in deed presidential counsel. Now he
is to be Presidential Counsel for public purposes and the director
for private purposes.  Thus is reality and make-believe conflated.
     In the public paradigm, the social value of privileged
communication between lawyer (Mr. Dean) and client (Mr. Nixon) is
to be used to advance the private values of self-protection for
those close to Mr. Nixon with some degree of criminal liability
including Mr.  Dean.
     Masquerading as a lawyer enables Mr. Dean to continue in his
role in the cover-up without jeopardy by giving off the impression
of having no operational role in dealing with the key figures in
the cover-up rather than the impression of coaching, instructing,
deciding, and executing a cover-up of a crime as previous White
House tapes indicate.
     Mr. Dean was especially active in organizing the money to pay
for Hunt's silence and in using the President's name to extract
advance information from the Justice Department.  By means of quick
change artistry, Mr. Dean is to act the part of the President's man
in the cover-up but to switch to the role of the Presidential
Counsel in any forum in which he is asked to testify.
     In this masquerade is found a subversion of the intent of
lawyer-client confidentiality.  Such confidentiality is not
intended to mask the culpable involvement of a lawyer in one
setting by reference to his status as lawyer in another--and yet it
is precisely this which is scripted by Mr. Nixon.
D.   One issue that may come up as the hearings go along is the
     fact that the focus on this book is that Dean knew--as you all
     know I was all over this thing like a wet blanket.  I was
     everywhere--everywhere they look they are going to find Dean.
P.   Sure.
H.   Well, I don't think that is bad.
E.   I don't either.  You were supposed to be.
P.   You were our investigator.  You were directed by the President
     to get me all the facts.  Second, as White House counsel you
     were on it to assist people in the Executive Branch who were
     being questioned.  Say you were there for the purpose of
     getting information.  That was your job.
D.   That's right.
P.   But the main point certainly is that Dean had absolutely no
     operational activity.  The wonderful thing about your position
     is that as far as they are concerned--your position has never
     been as operative.
H.   That is true--even in the private sessions then--you
     volunteered to give them a statement on the whole question of
     your recommendation of Liddy which is the only point of
     possible kind of substantive culpability that you could have
     and now you can satisfy all of those actions--that is if you
     want to.
P.   At the President's direction you have never done anything
     operational, you have always acted as counsel.  We've got to
     keep our eye on the Dean thing.
     Presumably, society values lawyer-client confidentiality as a
means to provide due process and full legal protection to the
client, not to the lawyer acting as culpable agent for the client
in a series of criminal actions.  On 27 March, 1973 Mr. Ziegler,
press secretary at the White House, was instructed to present Mr.
Dean-the-presidential-lawyer rather than Mr. Dean-the-presidential-
aide at the daily press briefing...the President's men were to use
the nightly news broadcast as a stage.
(Note:  Z = Ron Ziegler, White House Press Secretary)
Z.   Then if I am asked a question about whether or not Dean would
     appear before the grand jury, if I am asked that question--
P.   Why don't we just say, "well, this is a matter that is not
     before us.  " Point out that he is counsel to the President,
     counsel to the White House--use the White House.  Say, "He is
     the White House counsel and, therefore,  his appearance before
     any judicial group therefore, is on a different basis from
     anybody else," which is basically what I, you know when I
     flatly said Dean would not appear but others would.  You know,
     I did say that, and of course--
     In any authentic news program, it is incumbent upon reporters
of something called the news to give enough background so viewers
can make sense of it...sense in epistemological terms.  In the
American media, and other news media distorted by wealth and power,
the media become part of the structure of mystification.  Rather
than minimize the alienation of subjective understanding, such use
of news increases it.  The quality of a public sphere depends upon
a news media oriented to the co:respondence of objective reality
and subjective understanding.  Democracy, in turn, depends upon a
well designed, well operating public sphere.  In Watergate, the
Washington Post reporters set a precedent not yet well met in the
news media.
Upstaging the Senate Hearing       Two goals were in serious                                   
jeopardy by the Senate investigations: the elections of 1974 and
protection of the participants involved in criminal conspiracy to
subvert the political process in the 1972 presidential election. 
Mr. Haldeman proposed a Dean extravaganza which would neutralize
the Senate hearings, drag out the investigation until after 1974
and give Mr. Nixon the 'final stroke,' that of pardon on his last
day in office.  
     The official line is that no one is above the law...but.  But
the value of a fair hearing trumps all other considerations.  A
nice thought but one which would carry more weight were the
President's men equally concerned with a fair hearing for those
Democrats whose reputation and fortune were subverted by secret
things done in the night at their direction.
     The scenario below lays out the concept of a "super-panel."
with which to upstage the only forum in which anyone hurt by the
Nixon team could possibly get a fair hearing.  Haldeman first gives
Nixon his lines:
H.   Now, no man is above the law and that is a basic principle we
     must operate on, but under these circumstances there's no
     possibility of a fair hearing and every man is entitled to the
     protection of the law and the public is entitled to the facts
     in this matter.  But the people who are in charge and are
     involved are entitled to fair treatment.  People who are
     involved, well wasn't any (unintelligible) in being involved. 
     So, I've created a super panel which will have the cooperation
     of all investigative agencies.  All the people who have been
     charged in this matter have volunteered to submit their
     entire--their facts--to this panel.
P.   Be questioned by it.
H.   And be questioned by it.  They've agreed to waive their right
     to trial by jury.
P.   What (unintelligible)
H.   And the panel is empowered to act to remove anybody that it
     sees fit because of involvement, to level fines and to impose
     criminal sanctions.  The defendants in the Watergate trial,
     the men who have already been--can also submit any information
     that they want.  
P.   Right.
H.   Will be faced with the fact that all information developed by
     the committee and all other sources will be turned over to the
     Justice Department for criminal prosecution.  There will be no
     judgment until all the facts are received by the commission
     and then the commission will make public all of its findings
     and the reasons for all actions taken.  They will proceed in
     secret and their decisions will be final and not subject to
     appeal.  And the people appearing before them will voluntarily
     submit to that.  What (unintelligible) is appeal.
P.   Wonder if the President has the power to set up such a thing. 
     Can he do that sort of thing?  You know, that's the whole
     point.  I don't think so.
E.   Executive process.
H.   By voluntary--
H.   He feels that there are a lot of advantages on this and two
     major internal ones.  It will take the panel a long time to
     get set up, get its processes worked out, get its hearings
     done and make the findings and then you'll probably be past
     the '74 elections which'll be desirable.  Secondly, the
     President maintains the ultimate stroke on it, because he
     always has the option on January 19 to pardon anybody who
     (unintelligible) a pardon.    So the potential ultimate
     penalty anybody would get hit in this process could be about
     two years.  His view could be to put--you need to get someone
     on the panel who knows politics.
     Again, the proposal is to use the powers invested in the
presidency for dramaturgical presentations not in consonance with
the social paradigm in which those powers are delegated from the
people to a person to act as its agent.  Mr. Nixon and his team
exhibit a fine indifference to the public trust implicit in that
paradigm.  Someone has said, in the Judiciary Committee hearings
that, in all the thousands of pages of testimony, not once has Mr.
Nixon asked what his constitutional duties and constitutional
limits are.
     That is not precisely true.  In this meeting he does ask the
question and apparently, not as a "devil's advocate."  However, Mr.
Ehrlichman and Mr. Haldeman respond as though Mr.Nixon has not
asked whether a president had such power but rather, how a
president might create a plausible basis for arrogating such power
unto his office.  They immediately suggest two ways.
Casting a Villain:  John Mitchell as Evil Embodied
In stage life, prophecies are made which are not taken to be models of seriously
intended events to come.  In social life, prophecies are prelude to a series of 
behavioral events which validate the prophecy on the one hand and are given 
meaning by the prophecy on the other.   
     In the offstage dealings of the Nixon team, there are many false
prophecies of cooperation, of thorough investigation, of valid
assignment of criminal responsibility for those involved.  At no
time are these prophecies held to be seriously intended paradigms
for mediating their own behavior.  There is one case in which
future state of affairs is envisioned in which the Attorney General
of the United States, John Mitchell is to be thrown to the audience
as evil incarnate...and thus, it was hoped, exculpate Mr. Nixon.
 Mr. Mitchell is to be the "big enchilada" which would quiet the appetites of the
Watergate investigators.  He is high in the administration, not a
direct part of the White House team and was thought to have agreed
(signed off) on the Liddy package of political subversion.
     The problem was to get him to admit culpability and resign in
order to protect against further inroads of the high echelon
officers in the Nixon administration.  Mr.  Nixon fully intended
that later performance match the prophecy if possible.
27 March, 1973 Meeting:
P.   Well, what is Mitchell's opinion though?  You mean to say--
     let's see what he could do.  Does Mitchell come in and say,
     "My memory was faulty.  I lied?"
E.  No.  He can't say that.  He says   ah, ah
P.   "That without intending to, I may have been responsible for
     this, and I regret it very much but I did not realize what
     they were up to.  They were--we were--talking about apples and
     oranges." That's what I think he would say.  Don't you agree?
H.   I think so.  He authorized apples and they bought oranges. 
P.   Mitchell, you see, is never going to go in and admit perjury. 
     I mean he may say he forgot about Hunt-Liddy and all the rest,
     but he is never going to do that.
H.   They won't give him that convenience, I wouldn't think, unless
     they figure they are going to get you.  He is as high up as
     they've got.
E.  He's the Big Enchilada.
H.  And he's the one the magazines zeroed in on this weekend.
P.  They did?  What grounds?
H.   Yeah.  (unintelligible) has a quote that they maybe have a big
     fish on the hook.
P.  I think Mitchell should come down.
A Venture into Reality   Mr. Haldeman is instructed by Mr. Nixon
                         to call Mitchell to Washington from New
York.  The meeting with Mr. Mitchell is set up for the next
morning.  The tape of that meeting was not released to the public. 
 Later conversations indicate a decided preference for Mitchell to
accept full responsibility thereby exculpating Mr. Nixon and tuning
down interest in more investigation.
     It is at this point that the private White House script comes
as close to the social paradigm presumed to hold as between a
president and a citizenry as in any of the backstage deliberations. 
From the behavioral events to this point, it seems a reasonable
interpretation to make that Mr. Mitchell bore central
responsibility for the Watergate intrusion and that Mr. Nixon had
no prior knowledge.  A good case could be made that the values
implicit in the paradigm used in American political activity would
be satisfied by Mr. Mitchell's assumption of responsibility and
     Even if this were standard operating procedure in the Nixon
administration with Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Haldeman knowing the
full measure of the Nixon enchantment with power as well as
understanding the license they had to advance that interest, still,
the central effect of Mr. Mitchell's fall from grace would be a
serious constraint on the extension of presidential power.  In the
real-politik of American life, this result would have been
satisfactory to all but the purest conservatives and liberals.
     In another place, the final act scripted by the White House
dramatic group is set forth and discussed, but at this point, an
ending sacrificing Mr. Mitchell but salvaging others appeared to be
given serious consideration.
Belief and Betrayal     
 The social construction of reality is not
possible without belief, innocence and
faith.  In real life, disbelief is suspended in order to help each
other act on the level of innocent and uncritical discourse. 
Social reality does not exist ontologically, apart from the
thoughts and actions of believing human beings.  When people
believe in the social presentments of each other; believe in the
situation as defined collectively; believe in their right to act as
a party to such an occasion...when all this happens, the reality
quotient of social forms is as high as that of physical realities
which do exist ontologically.  
          Social reality is more complex than physical reality in
          that it has both ontological and epistemological
          dimensions which determine its facticity.
     If we go into a restaurant and someone presents herself as a
waitress, we suspend our disbelief that she is not.  Were we to
disbelieve, we would ask for identification and references.  Our
insistence that the waitress prove she is, factually, a waitress
would cause consternation and incredulity.  Whenever grounds for
disbelief enter into the real world, the reality process must stop;
those concerned must move to a meta-discourse and evaluate the
validity of those grounds for belief.  It takes time to sort out
truth claims.  It tends to stigmatize those who are so challenged. 
In such a case, a restaurant manager would simply ask the
disbeliever to leave.  But the facticity of the relationship
between two people as 'customer' and 'waitress' would not have
emerged as a social entity.  No belief; no reality.
     One must take a great many things on faith in building social
life worlds...those who have ever had reason to lose belief in a
spouse will recall what an existential shock it is to innocent
belief and will remember the great mischief done to the process by
which marriage is constructed.  In such a case, the reality
quotient of marriage bottoms out.  The same is true of politics, of
therapy, of teaching and of preaching when the suspension of
disbelief is no longer possible.
     Disbelief in the social presentments of others must be
suspended in order to treat them as though they were really
doctors, mechanics, mothers or whatever social role they now stand
ready to embody.  Disbelief in picnics, parties, classes, courts,
and hospitals would subvert the reality process.  In the sociology
of fraud, repeated insults on belief leads to cynicism...a sort of
holding back on naive commitment to the sociology of it all at
     In the world of make believe, the suspension of disbelief is
achieved by an understanding on the part of the viewers that they
do not thereby lose anything--they are not any the more gullible
nor any the less competent adults by a voluntary suspension of
disbelief.  It is not great fault to laugh and weep at a movie or
play but it does imply a bit higher reality quotient than full and
competent adults should give...more belief in the authenticity of
the events in the play that the situation calls for...and certainly
an inability to see clearly the larger framework in which the
activity occurs...that of make believe.
     In the sociology of fraud the capacity of an audience for
suspension of disbelief is utilized to gull an audience into a
social paradigm hostile to the value structure assumed to be
mutually pursued.  A good con artist gives attention to details
which otherwise would be of small consequence.  Some small slip can
trigger recourse to reality checks not usually made when faith
     Reality checks call for more stringent standards of internal
coherence than are usually demanded.  Nixon, being a practiced
liar, knows how tangled a web of lies can become when one practices
to deceive.  In the excerpt below, Nixon double checks to determine
whether a story...false...would seem plausible.  He does the basic
research into whether the polity will suspend disbelief of the
explanation of why money was given to the burglars by the Inner
     The use to which this basic research was put did not
contribute to a social paradigm of mutually shared values as
between Mr. Nixon and his audience, but rather led to a
dramaturgical presentation in which the audience was not to
understand that it was only "just pretend" but rather that the
script as written had been "for real" as far as the parties
involved at the time were concerned...they really believed that
they were giving money as charity rather than as bribe.  In a
"real" play, factual events can be at odds with each other and one
is not greatly distressed...we know the 'non-game' event to be a
mistake, an error or a freudian slip.  These we can overlook and
get on with our reality.
     It is important to understand that Nixon, in this excerpt, was
betraying the belief in him-as-president acting, instead, as Nixon-
as-co:conspirator in a crime.  The articles of Impeachment were a
true indictment of Nixon who had, in sociological terms, departed
from the role of the president to embody the role of the crook. 
Later, I will explain why Nixon and his team could, in good
conscience, do such things.
     When the sociology of fraud may be suspected, basic research
is even more crucial to the generation of naive trust.  Note that,
among themselves, they accept that the money transferred was a
payoff...for silence, rather than humanitarian aid to their
families as would be staged for mass consumption.
30 March, 1973 Meeting:
P.   All right.  Let me just take a minute further and run out the
     Hunt thing, and then the grand jury.  I want to get all the
     pieces in my mind if I can.
E.   Sure.
P.   Hunt's testimony on payoff, of course, would be very
E.   Right.
P.   Is he prepared to testify on that?
E.   Apparently so, that's what they say, that he will, and that he
     will implicate O'Brien and Parkinson.  And then, of course,
P.  O'Brien and Parkinson?    [Lawyers for the burglars who got
                              the money from the Inner Circle for
                              legal fees and living expenses]
E.  The lawyers.
P.  Were they the ones that talked to Hunt?  
E.   Well, he says they were and that they handed him the money.  He
     in turn handed it to his wife and she was the go-between for
     the Cubans.
P.  Yeh.  For what purpose?
     [...and later in the tapes there is concern for Kalmbach who
     provided the payoff funds...Hunt organized the break-in and
     had a direct connection to the Inner Circle]
P.   Hunt then is going to go [public].  Now that raises the
     problem on Hunt with regard to Kalmbach.  He [Kalmbach] has
     possible vulnerability as to whether he was aware, in other
     words, the motive, the motive, [the motive for giving the
     crooks tens of thousands of dollars...donated illegally as it
     turns out; more crimes in the White House].
E.   This doesn't add anything to do with Kalmbach's problem at
P.   What happened on that?  Dean called Kalmbach?  And what did
     Dean call Kalmbach about?
E.   He said we have to raise some money in connection with the
     aftermath, and I don't know how he described it.  Herb said
     how much do you need, and
P.  It was never discussed then?
E.   Presumably Dean told him, and Herb went to a couple of donors
     and got some money and sent it back.
H.   Dean says very flatly that Kalmbach did not know the purpose
     of the money and has no problem.
P.   Dean did know the purpose?  Hunt testifies--so basically then
     Hunt will testify that it was so-called hush money.  Right?
P.   Would it reduce his sentence?
E.   Have his sentence reduced.
H.   He'd be served the same purpose by not saying it was hush
     money, by saying he gave it to these guys I [Hunt] had
     recruited for this job and I.....was concerned about their
P.   That's right, that's what it ought to be and that's got to be
     the story that
P.   Will be the defense of these people, right?
E.   Only defense they have, (unintelligible) and so forth.
H.   That was the line they used around here.
P.   What?
H.   That was the line they used around here.  That we've got to
     have money for their legal fees and family.
P.   Support.  Well, I heard something about that at a much later
H.   Yeah.
P.   And, frankly, not knowing much about obstruction of justice,
     I thought it was perfectly proper.  [rehearsing lines]
Dramatic License
    The excerpt above, perhaps more than others,
reveals the dramatic license which will be used
to place a context around the transfer of funds to Mr. Hunt.  One
such feature is in the ambiguity of meaning of events themselves. 
The transfer of money has no intrinsic meaning; not even that the
item transferred was money or that it was in fact transferred.  
     Bills of the kind manufactured by the mint lose their standing
as money when withdrawn from circulation; it is the social meaning
assigned to the bills which makes it money.  Without competent
testimony by someone sociologically there, the meaning of the money
as payoff is problematic.  And, without a receipt, it is unclear
whether money has been transferred or merely stored.  Given the
power of the presidency, it will be presented as if it were
'really' humanitarian aid.  
     In authentic, demystified construction of social reality,
there is considerable dramatic license to invent and to experiment. 
This license to venture outside the normal modes of acting in order
to clarify and to illuminate...to highlight and to improve insight
is testimony to human genius; it is a surprise and a delight to be
party to such a use of drama.  However, put to the sociology of
fraud, it is depressing and productive of cynicism.
                                                       Truth is good health
                                                    and safety and the sky.
                                                  How meager and how vocal,
                                                        an everlasting lie.
                                                  				....E. Dickenson
     But Congress, the Courts and the media also have social power
vested in them.  In this instance, they define the money as hush
money...their definition of the situation holds...and thus is
history writ.  Mr. Nixon does the basic research in order to gauge
the credibility of a public story that the money paid to the
Watergate burglars was for "family support" and "legal fees" in the
context of sympathy and concern for wives, children, and adequate
legal aid rather than "bribes" or "hush money" purchasing "silence"
in the obstruction of justice.     
     He appears to be satisfied that this interpretation has
sufficient credibility to gull the audience and instructs his team
to advertise it.
The Boundaries of Social Space     A most significant technical                                
feature in the determination of criminal culpability for the cover
up has to do with the boundaries of the event sequence.  Whether or
not someone is inside the Inner Circle which engineered the cover
up of the burglary [it's called misprision of a felony...and is a
felony], is problematic when it comes to social space.  
     The boundaries of social space are quite different from those
of physical space.  One can be physically present and
sociologically outside; one can be physically remote from the scene
of a crime and be fully present in sociological terms.
     There is sufficient connectedness of this event with other
behavioral acts to construct a meaning (one of several possible) of
presidential involvement in a suborning of a witness...E. Howard
Hunt and misprision of a felony.
     There is also sufficient looseness to argue that Mr. Nixon's
behavioral events lay outside the boundaries of any event sequence
prophesied and carried out as "bribery." 
     Then there is the question of prophecy itself.  In order to be
in social space, one must be party to the process by which a
situation is defined...prophesied...as a crime or a cover-up.  Mr.
Nixon has sufficient basis for arguing that he never understood the
social prophecy about to be staged was anything meant to be
bribery.  One could, however, argue that the correspondence of that
prophecy was close enough to the subsequent events as well as the
overall context to support inference of a bribery prophecy even if
it were explicitly not the verbal meanings assigned to it by Mr.
Nixon.  Else why talk of the possibility of culpability for
Social Time    It is a peculiarity of social reality that one can
               be involved in a social event outside the ordinary
run of time.  In the case of the bribery, Mr. Nixon joins the act
of crime after it has been 'committed.'  
                    Thus the boundaries of social space are not
                    coincident with the boundaries of social time.
     By joining the conspiracy some days after it started, the
boundaries of social time were stretched to include Mr. Nixon. In
the social forensics of criminology, One must pay attention to the
elastic boundaries of social space and social time.  Who said that
physics and chemistry are the hard sciences?
Social Power and Social Magic.
Heretofore, Mr. Dean has been one of the principle authors,
stage managers, directors, producers, and actors performing before
the public on behalf of a White House ensemble.  In the excerpt
which follows, the shifting boundary between actors and audiences
is illuminated.  Mr. Dean ceases to be, epistemologically, a co-
conspirator and becomes a prop to be used by the Inner Inner Circle
which uses the power of the office of the President to reconstitute
Mr. Dean.
     Mr. Dean follows Mr. Mitchell as a prop to be used in
furtherance of the Nixon paradigm.  As with Mitchell, he ceases to
be part of the acting ensemble and stands in the uncertain zone
between actors and audience--he is neither of one or the other. 
Later, he will clearly be used as a prop and thus become part of a
hostile audience to be managed, played to, impressed upon, and
     There is a fascinating point to be taken here.  All social
reality is constructed.  There is a sort of social magic involved
in the construction of it.  In this instance, Mr. Dean, an
ontological entity, was transformed from an insider in partnership
with the President's team to an outsider.  Mr. Nixon had the social
power...delegated to him for more honorable purpose...to make such
magic.  He used it against Mr. Dean.
     Mr. Dean however, was later given social power of a different
sort.  He was called before the Hearing, named a witness and, in
that social life, was able to do Mr. Nixon great harm.  He was a
key sorcerer in the transformation of Mr. Nixon from something
called a President into something called an ex-president.  Social
magic requires social power...whose magic is greater depends, in
real sense on whose social, economic and moral power is greater.  
     One can shift levels and use physical power to dispel social
magic.  But as long as people define something as real, it has a
good possibility of becoming real...with enough social power.
30 March, 1973 Meeting:
P.   No.  No, Bob, the point that I make is let's suppose they get
     Mitchell.  They're going to say now what about Haldeman, what
     about Chapin, and what about Colson and the rest?  I've got to
     have a report indicating--you've got all those Segretti
     projects.  I want somebody to say, now look, here are the
     facts.  Of the White House people (unintelligible).  There are
     no other higher-up.  The White House (unintelligible).  Put a
     cap on it.  And second, then face the Segretti crap.
E.   In forcing this out, Dean remains a problem and here's--let me
     just read you what I've come to on that.  "John Dean has not
     involved himself in this matter as your counsel for several
     months and properly so. I should not continue to fill in for
     him," meaning me, "for several reasons, including the
     impermissible demands on my time that were involved.  You need
     a full-time special counsel to follow these related problems
     who can advice you of the legal niceties from his experience
     in constitutional criminal and (unintelligible) law practice. 
     I'll be happy to continue to consult with him, etc.  I do not
     recommend that Dean take a leave.  That is neither in nor out. 
     He has involved himself to the extent described above.  Either
     that requires dismissal, or it does not.  And that choice
     should be made at once.  If he is discharged, the U.S.
     attorney and the grand jury should be (unintelligible).  "But
     I think you've got to bite the bullet on Dean, one way or the
     other, and pretty quick.
H.   All right, but recognize that that kills him.  Dean's reaction
     basically he says that that kills him.
P.   Well, let's see what does Dean say when you tell him that?
E.   He doesn't agree with that.  [Dean doesn't agree that he
     should be murdered...sociologically speaking].
Changing Paradigms and Fair Notice: The Soul of Honesty.
 The same external conditions which decided the Nixon team to write
 Dean and Mitchell out of the play, led Mr.  Magruder to decide to testify 
 before the grand jury.  Mr. Magruder was putting the White House on 
fair notice that he was changing from the officially given paradigm
(dishonest) of the White House to the officially given paradigm
(honest) of the Justice Department.  
     It is important to note that Mr. Ehrlichman did not urge fair
notice to Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Dean, or Mr. Magruder when the White
House team has changed the way in which they related to the
ensemble.  Some measures of the dishonesty of the Nixon ensemble is
available from this duplicacy.  
     In social life, one is expected to advise others who are
within the same social paradigm whether one is in or out; and
whether the paradigm has changed.  When the paradigm is changed,
the values implicit in a given structure of action are changed. 
Failure to notify significant others of such a paradigmatic change
has the effect of misleading them as to the values pursued.  
     In analyzing the White House practices in constructing stage
life and social life, there is frequent mismatch between actors and
directors, ensemble on the one hand and audience on the other about
the paradigm utilized.  On the occasions such as the one in the
excerpt below, when one party fails to inform another of a change,
social betrayal exists.  Yet it is possible, as we shall see in the
last section for belief to be subverted without betrayal...a case
all too frequent in conflict relations.
     In the micro-politics of social life, those parties commanding
more power can defend themselves if the switch is discovered; those
less powerful, more dependent cannot and thus are more likely to
give fair notice in order to deflect anger or to retain support. 
Such imbalance of power explains why Magruder warns the President's
men but Nixon doesn't bother to warn those whom his team will throw
to the investigating committees.
14 April, 1973:
P.  Magruder.
H.   He has had him in there for 45 minutes, but he still
     (unintelligible).  I called Magruder--it took a long time to
     get him--he was not available--and I was trying to get him
     through his office but his lawyer said he could reach him in
     about an hour which he did and had him call me.  Jeb
     [Magruder] said--I started out by saying now there have been
     some developments and we have reviewed this whole thing with
     the President and he thought it was important to have you and
     your lawyer meet with John Ehrlichman right away and get up-
     to-date on where things stand from this side.  He said--fine,
     I can do that, I can't make it until about four o'clock.  That
     was the way it was left--but he then said--you know this whole
     thing--I don't know the situation but it is all done now.  I
     said, what do you mean?  He said I decided late last night
     with my lawyers that I am going to go ahead--you told me to do
     what my lawyers told me to do.  You said you couldn't advise
P.  Is that what you told him?
Improvising    In the repertoire of every great ensemble, the              
ability to respond to the exigencies of the moment is manifest. 
From many sources, the White House is aware that the "egg is
becoming unscrambled." In the excerpt which follows, Mr. Ehrlichman
and Mr. Nixon discuss another mock-investigation to take to the new
Attorney General by five p.m. in order to give the appearance of
their breaking the case.
14 April, 1973:
P.   The purpose in doing this is what?
E.   The purpose of doing it is--
P.   The White House has conducted an investigation and has turned
     it over to the grand jury.
E.   Turned it over to the Justice Department.
P.   Before the indictments.
E.   Right.
P.   How much are you going to put out?
E.   I think I would let them drag it out of me in a way.  I don't
     know, I just really haven't thought that part through.
P.   Because if they say why did the White House wait for Justice
     Department to do all this--
E.   Did the White House know, is probably the way this would, in
     turn, come.
P.   Yes, as a matter of fact.
E.   We have been at work on this for some time.  President first
     ordered it.
P.   Independent investigation.
E.   Needed it known.
P.   I had ordered an independent investigation at the time McCord
     had something to say.  Right.
E.   All right.
P.   At that time you conducted an investigation.
E.   And that--at the time I was ready to report to you my
     tentative conclusions, and they were no more than that, you
     felt that they were sufficiently serious--well, you felt that
     one overriding aspect of the report was that some people
     evidently were hanging back feeling that they were somehow
     doing the President a favor.  That the President had me
     personally transmit to them his views that this ought to be a
     complete open thing; that may or may not have played some part
P.   Jeb Magruder's subsequent disclosures to the grand jury?
E.   In any event, rather than for us simply to hold the
     information in the White House, we turned it over to the
     Justice Department for whatever disposition they wanted to
     make of it.
Moral Contamination     
 Mr. Dean had originally been cast as the
 "Presidential Investigator," but he became
contaminated by involvement in a social-life role which would
impair his performance in the part.  Mr. Ehrlichman has learned
enough to improvise and has sufficient talent and backstage
information to know how to replace Dean in that role.  The scenario
of a special presidential investigator had been previously worked
out, but the time seemed more propitious for prompt recourse to it
than any previous time.  
     In stage life, the moral standing of an actor has no great
bearing on his acceptability in a given part.  In social life,
moral standing has great bearing on the sort of roles into which
one may properly be cast.  In the former instance, there is public
knowledge of psychological distance between actor and role; in
social life, one assumes no such distance--the performer has some
moral commitment to the role and that moral commitment brooks no
moral contamination if the presentment is to be taken seriously.
     There is a sociological school which argues that bureaucracies
and other large scale organizations convert moral actors into mere
technicians.  Under that analysis, moral commitment to a role is
irrelevant.  Such involvement replaces technical expertise for the
moral dimension of social life.  The same replacement attends a
stage presentation:  technical competency in a performance rather
than moral commitment to it. 
     The merit of this approach, explicit in the writings of the
Frankfurt school and others is that one has a sociological
framework in which to understand moral collapse rather than a
religious or psychological framework.
     The larger question upon which to ponder in the White House
dealings as in all merely technical discourse is whether social
life can survive in any social mode of form without a set of fairly
explicit value orientations based on distinctly human values. 
There seems little doubt but that patterned activity can be
sustained without relating back to human values but whether that
patterned behavior sustains social life is another question.  
     Suicide rates, rates of infant mortality, crime, drop-out
rates, rates of psychological depression may be the quantitative
indicators of the collapse of life to purely technical modes
unattached to a framework of human values.  When  theatre overlaps
politics; when that theatre is oriented to the management of human
beings rather than the celebration of the human project, then the
moral bases in politics is lacking.
          The sources of human morality are to be found in the
          character of the social forms available as much as in
          childhood training or in privatized modes of worship.
The Rehearsal and the Performance    
   One of the few occasions  in which a dramaturgical
event is available to us in both the form rehearsed and performed
side by side occurs on the evening of the 14th of April.  In the
performance, Mr. Ehrlichman gives a superb presentation of the main
points scripted earlier in the day.  The performance was played to
Mr. Kleindienst, the Attorney General.  It is based on the 27 March
scripting (which see).
     In this performance, Ehrlichman enacts the role of a special
Presidential Investigator for the benefit of Attorney General
Richard Kleindienst [Kliendienst replaced Mitchell who quit under
fire...recall that it was in the Office of the Attorney General
that much of the larger plan to destabilize the campaign of the
Democratic Presidential Candidate.  Kliendienst is really an
Attorney General while Ehrlichman is a stand-in for Dean who had
been playing the part of the President's investigator until he
defected to the world of seriously intended social reality from the
world of make believe and just pretend.
Telephone conversation:  Ehrlichman and Kleindienst,  April 14, 
1983.     (Approximately 6:00 p.m.)
K.  Hi, John.
E.  Hi, General.  How are you?
K.  Pretty good, how are you?
E.  How was the golf?
K.  Half good and half bad.
E.  First half good?
K.  Well, the middle was good and . . .
E.   I want to bring you up to date on what I have been doing.  For
     about the last three weeks--well, since I saw you, before I
     saw you in San Clemente--the President has had me trying to
     gather together, as you know, a certain amount of law and
     facts to be in a position to kind of substitute for Dean, and
     to advise him on the White House involvement, in this whole
     transaction.    Yesterday,  I gave him my summary and,
     admittedly, it was hearsay, but some of it pretty reliable. 
     And the whole thing fit together pretty well as, at least, a
     working hypothesis.  One of the things that I told him what
     that I had encountered people who appeared to be reticent to
     come forward because they somehow felt that the presidency was
     served by their not coming forward.  So he had me today, in a
     series of conversations with people, to straighten them around
     on that point.  The first one I talked to was your
     predecessor.  Then I talked to Magruder, and--
K.   It's pretty hard to talk to those two when they have testified
     under oath before a grand jury.
E.   Well, as it turns out, I was just a little late in talking to
     Magruder, because he was just coming back from telling
     everything to the U.S. attorney.  He has decided to come
K.   No kidding?  Magruder?
E.   Yep. He had his informal conference minutes before he came in
     to see me.
K.   Would that be inconsistent with his testimony before the grand
E.   Dramatically inconsistent.
K.   (expletive removed)!
E.   And he implicates everybody in all directions up and down in
     the Committee to Re-Elect.
K.   Mitchell?
E.   Yep, cold turkey.  My instructions after I had completed--
     well, I might say I also talked to a couple of other people
     who are around here just to pass the word to encourage them to
     testify, if the only reason they were not testifying was some
     concern about the presidency.  Also, being very careful to say
     that I recognized everybody had rights, and that I didn't mean
     in any way to indicate that they should not avail themselves
     of their full rights.  Now, Magruder then-
K.   Let me ask one thing--
E.   Yep.
K.   As a result of what you just told me, it would indicate there
     is a substantial case of perjury against Mitchell and Magruder
     in the first instance.
E.   Yep.  No question.
K.   So, complicity in the overall conspiracy?
E.   More than just a participation in a conspiracy, Dick.
K.   They would be principals?
E.   Yes, they are principals.
K.   Uh, I can't believe John Mitchell would have ever known that
     and let it go on.
E.   Well,  I must say that my conversation with him was reassuring
     in that regard.  He is very steadfast in his protestations of
     innocence.  Well, the Magruder case is not only testamentary,
     but is circumstantial--is persuasive to me.
K.   But Mitchell denied it?
E.   I saw Mitchell first.  I didn't have all of this Magruder
     business.  Now, here I am a citizen of the United States and
     the designated inquirer of a body of information.  My purpose
     and intent is to advise you of this when I got finished with
     this process and tender this information for whatever purpose
     it would serve, recognizing that up until just a few minutes
     ago it was almost entirely hearsay.  Magruder has just
     unloaded on me the substance of his conversation with the U.S. 
     attorney--informal conversation.  And I find that I now have
     very little to add to what Magruder had already given to the
     U.S.  attorney.
K.   That's not good.
E.   I felt that I should go forward and at least advise you of
     this and to--
K.   John, at this point, it seems to me that you are going to have
     to be very careful.
E.   Let me spoil your afternoon completely, will you?  One of the
     things Magruder told me was--and his attorney who was with him
     corroborated --was that they are very concerned about Dean's
     facility for advising people at the committee of the
     proceedings of the grand jury.  [treason to Dean]
K.   (unintelligible)
E.   Well, he was apparently informing Magruder and others of what
     the grand jury was saying and doing.
E.   And Silbert or someone else said to his attorney, well, we
     know the source of Dean's information and it was from higher
K.   That is pretty speculative, because I don't think Henry
     Petersen would have told him.
Impressions Given Off    
In the foregoing excerpt, Mr. Ehrlichman
contrived several dramaturgical images
which do not correspond to the behavioral events to which they
purport to give an account.  Central to every dramaturgical
performance in real life and on stage is the success with which
impressions are given off and the degree to which they succeed in
creating a given social paradigm.  Among these non-supported images
include the following:
     1.   The impression of a presidential summary.  There was
          summing up but not the result of a charge designed to
          help Mr. Nixon act as president.
     2.   The dramaturgical impression of Presidential antipathy
          for reticence on the part of the involved.  The actual
          events suggest that freedom to testify or not to testify
          was adjusted carefully to protect Mr. Nixon.  The
          impression given off by Mr. Ehrlichman to Mr. Kleindienst
          was quite the reverse.
     3.   The impression of concern for civil rights.  An earlier
          passage suggests that the script would call for
          prejudicing rights as a tactic for ensuring "you don't
          get anybody in jail." In this case testimony by Mr.
          Magruder was a fait accompli and testimony by Mr.
          Mitchell unlikely.
     4.   The impression that Mr. Mitchell was a principal in the
          case.  This impression had the effect of minimizing Mr.
          Haldeman, Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Nixon as principals; the
          dramaturgical effect central to all of the staging of the
          past few days.
     5.   The impression that Mr. Ehrlichman is acting as a bona
          fide citizen doing his duty rather than as an actor
          merely giving forth lines.
     6.   The impression that Mr. Ehrlichman has nothing of
          substance (even if hearsay) to add to the Magruder
     7.   The impression of routine concern about Mr. Dean's access
          to privileged information from the grand jury.  The fact
          was that Dean, knowing the drama to be produced, leaked
          information as directed by Nixon.
     All in all it was an admirable performance by a skilled
performer using a minimum of words to construct several useful
impressions.  Part of the usefulness of the impressions above is
Mr. Kleindienst' response to them in the social paradigm thought to
obtain between himself and the White House.  He did not have direct
knowledge he was being treated to a performance from the world of
theatre.  He, believing and trusting in Ehrlichman's performance,
would later be reluctant to prosecute others in the course of duty
as chief law enforcement officer of the United States.  By virtue
of this naive (and necessary) trust, a subtle conversion of staged
life occurs and enters into social life as "the real thing." 
     To engineer a convincing impression for the benefit of Mr.
Kleindienst is a political act.  Anytime one party engineers the
beliefs, understandings and behavior of another, a political act
has transpired.  If the engineering does not involve a mutual
awareness on the part of all parties, then political fraud has
transpired.  When Mr. Ehrlichman was rehearsing and being
auditioned by Mr. Nixon earlier in the day, there was mutual
awareness of the social paradigm out of which both were operating. 
This was not the case in the Ehrlichman/Kleindienst conversation. 
Mystifications in Mass Media       
Most of the time, when people see a play or a movie, they know full
well that it is situated well within the boundaries of make-believe, never-
was, just-pretend and what-if.  By the time children are seven or eight,
they have learned to draw the mid-line between make-believe and 
seriously intended symbolic interactions.
The Watergate Players tried to mystify that mid-line...they tried to
push some manufactured events into the realm of for-real and to push
other such events onto the realm of just-pretend and never-was.
Immediately after the Kleindienst call, attention turned to how best to play to a wider
audience the vignette which went so well before an audience of one. 
The solution is to plant a question with a reporter for Mr. Ziegler's press briefing
on the morrow.
14 April, 1973 Meeting:
P.   Ehrlichman should get out the facts that he has made this
     investigation, that we weren't drug kicking and screaming into
     this thing.  I don't know.
E.  I may have a legal problem.  I'll talk to Dick tomorrow.
P.  Yeah--it may be a real problem.
E.   And if it's not a legal problem, I '11 have a question Monday
     for Ziegler on what Mitchell was doing at the White House. 
     "Just say he was here talking to me."
P.   "The whole matter has been referred to the proper
E.   Yeah, he'll have to.
P.   And he'll say, "Oh that's been given to the proper
     authorities." That's what I would think.
     Now news, reporters, networks, and press conferences are part
of the "real" world of prophecies meant to be taken seriously even
if fraudulent.  In this instance, the more obvious use of "news" in
the politics of reality construction is manifest.  Someone who
purports to be a reporter is to ask something which purports to be
a question in something which purports to be a press briefing.  
     Those who are "sophisticated" will immediately know that much
in the way of news is manufactured much of it bearing little
relationship to prior or forthcoming events.  The point here is not
to rehash a cynical view of news conferences but rather to stress
the theoretical point that mass media provide a structural link
between stage managers and their audiences.  The dramaturgy of
fraud depends upon the fact that that which is presented is defined
as "news" by reporters rather than exposed...and thus undefined as
"plants" by those same reporters.  
     A theory of reportage which discourages such background
information; the so-called 'objective school' of reportage, is a
political instrument of fraud rather than a neutral party to
information flow.  Such reporters themselves create the
dramaturgical semblance of reporting rather than its substance. 
All democratic societies need a practice of reportage which enables
citizens to see 'through' the mystifications of those who produce
and direct the sociology of fraud in order that they use their
social power to defeat the fraud.  The Washington Press, oriented
as it is to private profit and personal career seldom meets the
standards of emancipatory reportage.
     The political advantage available to those who permit
themselves to be converted from reporters into press agents is
primarily one of access to inside information.  This patronage is
valuable to the career of one working the media but is hostile to
the public values proclaimed by a free press.  
     A press which subscribes to a principle of reportage so
objective that careerists need not appraise the reader/viewer of
the managerial meaning of news plants is not really a free press
but rather irresponsible to its public.  It is more accurate to
call it a "kept press."
Self and Society:  Constructing the President     
In the process of constructing
social reality, a first step is to establish what Goffman refers to
as "copresence"; a state of mutual sensitivity and shared
orientations to runs of thought,  emotion and actions of each
party.  The political effect of copresence, once established, is
that each party is partner in constructing the social self of
others situationally present.  Thus, mind, self and society can be
     In this excerpt, one can see that the social fact called a
President Nixon is really a collective product.  Mead's point that
social psychology is a social product is well supported.  Even
presidents are a complex and ever changing process.  Presumably the
acting self is the chief author, director, and actor in such a
production...but again, power is an intervening variable.  Mr.
Nixon has more power than most in greater variety but still he is
an amalgam of different elements.
     Social roles, when embodied in the behavior of the parties
concerned constitute a coherent and existentially real part of the
shared self structure of each of the actors.  It is in this respect
that it is valid to state that self (the social identity embodied)
and society (the social role programmed) are twinborn.  
     More to the point, it is valid to state that mind is social;
i.e., a joint product of two or more persons.  That is the sense in
which Mead held that mind and self were something more than that
residing inside the skin of a given social being. When the linkage
between self and society are strong, then the fact and forms of
power become increasingly important in the transactions wherein
self is constructed.  
     In the case of Mr. Nixon, there is an extensive use of power
to construct the social role, hence self structure of those who
extend copresence to him.  And, with Mr. Nixon, those who
participate in the construction of the social role of "the
president" and, thereby in the construction of his social identity,
have considerable social power.  At each point in the presentment
of self, Mr. Nixon believes that he is the president but in the
question of protecting Mr. Dean, Mr. Haldeman and Mr. Mitchell, Mr.
Nixon understands at some non-verbal level that he is protecting
himself in quite the technical meaning of "himself."  He and they
are one as long as they share a role-set.    
     In so far as Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Dean have been crucial to
the construction of the role of the president, they have shared in
the personal esteem of Mr. Nixon for an "himself." Mr. Nixon also
realizes that his own personal esteem is a variable which is linked
to the public esteem of Mr. Dean, Haldeman, Mitchell and others of
"our fellows." 
     In almost any passage selected, one can see Mr. Ehrlichman and
Mr. Haldeman tailoring the thoughts, responses, feelings and
understandings of Mr. Nixon.  In as much as Mr. Nixon is in the
role of the president, Mr. Ehrlichman is tailoring the behavior set
linked to that role--and in more coherent fashion than if the task
were solely that of Mr. Nixon.  
     This is not a put-down of Mr.  Nixon as a person--the same
point can be made in every shared construction of self and society. 
However, in the excerpt selected, it is particularly easy to
observe the tailoring process; sometimes with Haldeman and
Ehrlichman shaping Mr. Nixon on what to say, to think and how to
feel; sometimes Nixon shaping Ehrlichman and Haldeman.
16 April, 1973 Meeting:
P.   Incidentally, I don't think it will gain us anything by
     dumping on the Dean Report as such.
E.   No.
P.   What I mean is I would say I was not satisfied that the Dean
     Report was complete and also I thought it was my obligation to
     go beyond that to people other than the White House.
E.   Ron has an interesting point.  Remember you had John Dean go
     to Camp David to write it up.  He came down and said, "I
P.   Right.
E.   That is the tip off and right then you started to move.
P.   That's right.  He said he could not write it.
H.   Then you realized that there was more to this than you had
     been led to believe.  (unintelligible)
P.   How do I get credit for getting Magruder to the stand?
E.   Well it is very simple.  You took Dean off of the case right
H.   Two weeks ago, the end of March.
P.   I want the dates of all those--
E.   I've got those.
P.   Go ahead.  And then--
E.   And then it culminated last week--
P.   Right.
E.   --In your decision that Mitchell should be brought down here;
     Magruder should be brought in; Strachan should be brought in.
P.   Shall I say that we brought them all in?
E.   I don't think you can.  I don't think you can.
H.   I wouldn't name them by name. Just say I brought a group of
     people in.
E.   Personally come to the White House.
P.   I will not tell you who because I don't want to prejudice
     their rights before (unintelligible).
E.   But you should say, "I heard enough that I was satisfied that
     it was time to precipitously move.  I called the attorney
     general over, in turn Petersen."
P.   The attorney general.  Actually you made the call to him on
E.   Yes.
P.   But this was after you heard about the Magruder strategy.
E.   No, before.
P.   Oh.
The Reviews    
The press and T.V. journalists were consistent in
the poor reviews given to all of Mr.  Nixon's
performances; formal and semi-formal.  Generally reviews varied
with party politics, conservative and very conservative partisans
giving Mr. Nixon credit for his presentments at face value-even
lauding his tenure in office.  The liberal/radical elements in
politics were very critical of Mr. Nixon's cover stories and
refused to honor any performance irrespective of its dramatic
quality, its internal coherence, or its polish as a staged event. 
     Each audience responded differently to the staging of the
meaning of Watergate and in that difference is a point of
intellectual leverage for understanding the dramaturgical
construction of social reality.  The central question is how to
understand the variation in response between these three audiences. 
     The thesis advanced here has to do with the social paradigm;
especially the interest sets and value sets for which each audience
worked to construct and to implement as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     Conservative Republicans and Democrats responded to the
Nixon dramaturgy out of one set of values.  This social paradigm
was one of the "New Federalism" which dismantles the power of the
federal government to police and restrain the activities of other
power centers.  The values implicit in the New Federalism appealed
to Southern conservatives in returning control of racial policy to
the states; especially in the area of education; appealed to the
small entrepreneur so hard pressed by federal bureaucracies; and
especially to monopoly capital in abandoning the efforts to
constrain corporate capitalism on profit rates, ecology matters,
truth in lending and advertising, product standards, labor policies
as well as the delicate transactions between business and political
     Mr. Nixon is a "good" president from the point of view of this
set of values.
     Both liberal and most radical audiences accorded a negative
review to Mr.  Nixon's presentments.  For the liberals, if Nixon
were not vulnerable on the point of economic policy, foreign
policy, fiscal policy and welfare policy; he certainly was
vulnerable on Watergate and his performances were critically
evaluated out of an opposite social paradigm.  In neither paradigm,
that of the conservatives nor that of the liberals, did values
associated with constitutional procedures, legal accountability and
"free" elections play a central part.  
     The liberal politicians were also vulnerable on the point of
contrived elections.  They did not pursue legal accountability once
Mr. Nixon was out of office nor were they moved to insist on
significant reform in these areas--they simply wanted Mr. Nixon out
assuming that control of the political apparatus would come to them
in 1976 and they could use the power of the state to redress the
worst effects of monopoly capital....and thus save it.
                    For the liberals, Watergate proved how well
                    the system works; for conservatives, it proved
                    how unfair were the critics; for radicals it
                    showed how superficial are politics and
                    justice in America.
     The far left operated out of a social paradigm in which the
coming and going of Mr. Nixon was of small moment.  In a system of
corporate capitalism, the fate of this president or that does not
matter much.  If anything, the continuation of Mr. Nixon in office
was preferable in a social paradigm which required an unweakened
Nixon acting effectively with his programs of fiscal policy which
advanced the historical moment of dramatic collapse of capitalism
from its internal contradictions.  
     In the socialist paradigm, the more the Nixon administration
transferred the social costs of corporate capitalism to the working
and white collar classes, the sooner would these classes rebel
against higher prices, higher unemployment, higher taxes, larger
welfare rolls, larger and more serious unemployment, and the
closing off of opportunity.  This audience maintained a discrete
silence.  The open support of Mr.  Nixon by the Soviet leadership
is understood, in part, by reference to this paradigm.
Ringing Down the Curtain: 
Constructing and De-Constructing   'The President.'
 Consistent with his performance from
about 1967 on, Mr. Nixon exerted much
effort to construct the meaning of his departure from the White
House in ways supportive of an image of himself as a "Great
American Statesman" interested in peace, prosperity, justice and
opportunity. In hostile contrast to that image is one drawn by Mr.
Nixon's most persistent critics as a cynical opportunist who
presided over a state apparatus dedicated to the welfare of
monopoly capitalism.  
     In the formal business of constructing social facticity, the
truth value of any given number of variables converge to produce
the final product.  Epistemologically, there is no truth other than
that collectively adopted as the official meaning for a given
social paradigm.    Since there are an infinite number of social
paradigms by which to interpret events, there can be an infinite
number of social "truths." 
     In the case of Mr. Nixon, the power variable was almost
sufficient by itself to establish the official meaning of his
presidency--now that he is out of office, most of the power is gone
and his meaning will be constructed by other power groups.
     In the excerpt to follow taken from the resignation address
before one of the largest live television audiences in history, Mr.
Nixon proposed this image of his meaning in public office:
     Good Evening.  This will be the 37th time I will have spoken
     to you from this office where so many decisions have been made
     that shaped the history of this nation.  Each time I have done
     so to discuss with you some matters which I believed affected
     the national interest.  In all the decisions I have made in my
     public life I have always tried to do what was best for the
          Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I
     have felt it was my duty to persevere, to make every possible
     effort to complete the kind of office to which you elected me. 
     In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me
     that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the
     Congress to justify continuing that effort.  I would have
     preferred to carry through to the finish no matter the
     personal agony that would have been involved.  And my family
     unanimously urged me to do so.  But the interest of the nation
     must always come before any personal consideration.  
          From the discussions I have had with congressional and
     other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate
     matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I
     would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions
     and carry out the duties of this office in the way the
     interests of the nation would require.
          I have never been a quitter.  To leave office before my
     term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. 
     As President I must put the interests of America first. 
     America needs a full-time president and a full-time Congress,
     particularly at this time with problems we face at home and
          To continue the fight through the months ahead for my
     personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and
     attention of both the President and the Congress in a period
     when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace
     abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
          Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at
     noon tomorrow.  By taking this action, I hope that I will have
     hastened the start of that process of healing which is so
     desperately needed in America.
     In this address, Mr. Nixon practices with consummate skill and
under considerable stress, the performer's art of structuring
meaning.  In defining his departure from office, he emphasizes the
withdrawal of support by Congress.  Another analyst, constructing
the meaning of that departure might have said that the resignation
was forced by his participation in the obstruction of justice.  In
the offering of a personal motive, Mr. Nixon creates the impression
that his central concern is for the national interest rather than
any concern to avoid being the first president removed by
impeachment proceedings.
     In the act of quitting office, Mr. Nixon asserts that he has
never been a quitter.  In evaluating his administration, Mr. Nixon
suggests that we can all be proud of that administration.  In
listing his achievements, he neglects to mention inflation,
unemployment, decline in health and medical care, the use of
Madison Avenue tactics in his campaigns or the effect of his
policies on the structure of opportunity for minority groups. 
Still less does he mention the increased support for repressive
regimes in the third world.
     There are other events of his presidency which could #e
assembled in support of a dramatic reading giving still other
interpretations of that presidency.  In the everyday methods of
constructing social reality, there are any number of events which
are omitted or defined as not occurring; belches, burps, bumps,
"false" starts, poor gambits, unacceptable lines, inadvertent acts
as well as many, many other events within any given social
paradigm.  In order to compose just that set of events out of all
possible events occurring, we say, excuse me, pardon me, I'm sorry,
I mis-spoke myself, I mean, you know, and the like-or perhaps we
simply behave as though a given act hadn't happened at all.  
     If the persons involved are operating out of a common paradigm
with shared values, such deletions are accepted routinely.  If
there is a suspicion of differing value sets, the deletions are
challenged.  In such challenges, the use of power is invoked. 
Power is seldom used where a shared paradigm obtains.
Conflict Methodology and Critical Dramaturgy    
  Conflict methodology entails the search for quality information under
conditions of conflict between classes, genders, age cohorts,
nations, and other social entities.  When social solidarity is
high, the knowledge process is transparent; the need for a formal
research process of limited utility.  It is when there are barriers
to information flow between people that a special methodology is
                    It is when there are skilled efforts to mask
                    or to dissemble that the communication process
                    needs the help of more formal research
     As a technique in conflict methodology, critical dramaturgical
analysis helps to clarify the role of power in the construction of
social meanings, social identities, social roles, as well as social
processes.  In every series of events, there are several technical
features that permit the intrusion of political power in the
reality construction process.  
     We have looked at many technical features of the reality
constituting process using the Watergate tapes as a source of data. 
The tapes clearly demonstrate a skillful and sustained effort to
subvert the knowledge process as it focussed on the break-in and
cover up of the break-in of the Watergate complex.  We have seen
that the Nixon Inner Inner Circle, used the elements of theatre to
mock up the dramaturgical image of a variety of social facts with
which to mystify their various audiences.
     Now comes judgment time.  It is necessary to go beyond the
facts of alienated theatre; alienated politics to understand the
conditions under which the interface between theatre and politics
comes to be distorted so.  The key to such an understanding has to
do with whether...or not...the use of the powers of the office of
the president of something taken to be a nation can fairly be used
to link politics and theatre in such a fashion.
     Political power, when deployed legitimately, helps make the
knowledge field more transparent to those with social standing. 
When it is used to cloud the knowledge field; to mystify the
parties concerned with constructing what is, putatively, a shared
symbolic environment; when power is used to force a set of policies
inimical to their objective interests upon others...then the use of
political power is illegitimate.  It was illegitimate within the
framework of democratic politics, international peace and social
justice considerations.
     In the case of Watergate, the use of political power by Nixon
to deceive the American polity was legitimate...within the context
of capitalist relations.  Remember the passage:
     ...our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace
     abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.
     It is, objectively and without qualification, in the interest
of a capitalist society to have peace abroad; prosperity at home
and a low inflation rate.  Peace is necessary in order to move vast
amounts of goods and raw materials from the third world to the
capitalist countries.  Think of what tomorrow would be like were
access to cheap oil to be cut off from Europe, North America or
Japan.  The economic machine would stop.
     Prosperity at home is necessary...indeed, the rationale...for
capitalism.  Without prosperity, political legitimacy would
dissolve; the social base of the capitalist state would shrink;
domestic markets would be unable to absorb the goods produced at
home and abroad.
     Control of inflation is necessary in order to stabilize the
world capitalist system which uses the dollar as its medium of
exchange.  It is necessary to keep political faith and political
legitimacy with a growing bloc of senior citizens who are on fixed
incomes and who have direct access to members of Congress.  Control
of inflation is necessary to keep competitive with foreign
corporations which, every year, grow more competitive.
     Richard Milhous Nixon and his central advisors, especially
Henry Kissinger knew exactly what must be done in order to maintain
the hegemony of the United States in the world capitalist system
and to maintain the system itself.
          Richard Nixon was the first President of the World
          Capitalist System.  His first duty was to preserve it. 
          His loyalties to the American voter and to the democratic
          process ran a dismal, distant second.  
     The Nixon-Kissinger team were very astute players on the world
stage.  They came to power just as American capital needed them to
deal with enemies at home and reorganize the world in its own image
     The U.S. was and is under a great many economic pressures at
home and abroad which tend to destabilize American capitalism. 
Demanding workers, civil rights advocates, ecology advocates,
senior citizens, a very spoiled leisure class demanding more
profits, over-loaded managerial staffs, increasing demand for
police and prisons, a growing load of welfare recipients, the
consumers movement...all these sectors of the population made
demands on the economic system.  The system itself was dependent
upon outdated equipment.  
     Abroad there was the loss of markets to industrialized Europe;
to the emerging Asian nations; to the socialist bloc and to local
capitalists in the 3rd world.  Foreign markets are essential to
capitalism since the workers in a given nation are not paid 100% of
the value of what they produce...the rest must be sold overseas in
order to realize profits.
     There were the 3rd world producers cartels which threatened to
reverse the flow of wealth from the poor countries to the rich. 
There were multinational corporations which would move vast amounts
of capital and millions of jobs out of North America.  There were
the socialist liberation movements in Southeast Asia, Latin America
and Africa which had to be dealt with.  
     With all these conflicting interest groups at work, there was
a need for restabilizing the world capitalist system before it went
into depression or before it moved toward socialism.  Nixon and
Kissinger engineered a new world order with the U.S.A. securely on
top.  It was, objectively, in the interests of American workers and
consumers for Nixon to continue in office.  Nixon knew this;
Kissinger knew this; Mitchell, Ehrlichman, and the other
President's men knew it.  
     Watergate was but the tip of the iceberg.  Stealing campaign
plans and getting evidence against democrats from their office in
the Watergate complex was but one small part of the much larger
effort to make sure that Nixon was re-elected.  He won handily but
he and his team had to deal with the aftermath while he and
Kissinger were attending to the larger job of american hegemony in
the world.
    As President of something called a nation, Nixon occupies an office 
from which several different kinds of power can be deployed with which
deal with the aftermath of Watergate.
     Given these technical features that undergird all
intersubjective understanding presented in the analyses above, it
is readily understood that differences in power enters into the
construction of social reality to resolve any problems with the
"real" meaning of events.
     There is much justification to a theory of power
stratification which states that all power differences function to
resolve conflicts in definition of the situation, conflicts with
social interpretation of events, as well as conflicts in the
selection of behavioral events said to be compatible with a given
social prophecy.  
     Ordinarily, the conflict is between parties with a grasp of
the socio-cultural paradigm at hand and those without a good grasp. 
In such a case, power is said to be legitimate since it keys off
the value-set implicit in the paradigm.
     Sometimes the conflict is between two parties each of which
has a good grasp of the social values implicit in two different
coherent paradigms and have the same standing as regards
legitimacy.  In both cases power is used to impose one social
definition on the other and is taken by all to be "official"
history of the social group.  In the former instance power is used
more gently and with due process.  In the second, power is wielded
ruthlessly and under the assumption that there is no shared social
paradigm.  Such is the nature of politics.
     Much in the way of the use of power by Mr. Nixon with respect
to the Congress, to the "enemies" on his enemy list, to the Courts
as well as the media operated as though there was no common social
paradigm which embraced all parties.  
     In this case, dramaturgical analysis permits us to understand
why the House Judiciary Committee voted out Articles of Impeachment
on the Watergate affair but not on the illegal bombing of Cambodia
by Mr. Nixon.  
     We can infer in the latter instance that there was a consensus
about the social paradigm out of which sufficient numbers of
Congressmen acted which permitted Cambodians to be bombed without
formal specification of the social prophecy at hand as "war" as
required by the Constitution.  Both Nixon and Congress interpreted
the War in Southeast Asia as a war against the 'communist threat'
that justified the use of physical power...since social power
seldom runs beyond the boundaries of the social unit that uses it.
     In the case of the Watergate affair, there was no sharing of
paradigm and so power entered into the resolution process.  The
Democrats did not understand the need to cut back on programs of
social justice; to neutralize the socialist revolutions and the
USSR; to discipline workers and consumers at home; to keep the
world capitalist system free from nationalism; to support
repressive regimes in the 3rd world or to use China against the
Soviet Union.  Nixon, Kissinger and most free world leaders from
Margaret Thatcher to Helmut Kohl understood the need for Nixon to
'lead the free world.'
     But since the power base of both parties key off the
compatibility of actions with values, Mr. Nixon was in a precarious
situation.  He had to subvert democracy while making it appear that
it was embodied in something called a national election...at least
he and his men thought he might lose.
     His power collapsed quickly as Congress used its power to
oppose his constructions and to impose its own.  
               As Simmel has said, power implies compliance by
               others; when others don't accept, power disappears. 
     Dean, Magruder, General Haig and other Washingtonians
gradually withdrew their support.  Exit Nixon.
     The millions of viewers who respond to the use of power in
constructing meanings had come to believe that what has been put
together by the Nixon team was a state of peace, justice,
opportunity, honest brokerage and quality service by the White
House.  Millions of persons who struggled on a subsistence diet,
whose taxes supported the infrastructure of corporate capitalism,
whose children were school dropouts or the marginally employed,
whose private lives were bland and imbued with a sense of quiet
despair were mystified when a person whom they respect in an office
which they still esteem tells them that these things are not
     Yet for millions of Americans, the good life they and their
children enjoy depended upon something like a Nixon as President of
the World capitalist system.  Carter was elected in 1976, he failed
to follow Nixon policies and the fiscal crisis of American
capitalism returned with a vengeance.  Mr. Reagan was elected,
became the second president of the world capitalist system and,
once again stabilized it at home and abroad.  For the 5% of the
world who benefit from capitalism...mostly in Europe and North
America, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Reagan look good.
     For the workers and peasants in the 3rd world whose labor
enriches that 5%; for the growing numbers in the underclass at
home; for the millions of small businesses and farms abandoned to
their fate by Nixogan; for the young men and women murdered by the
death squad and mercenaries run by the C.I.A., the prosperity of a
handful of white workers and capitalists is far too high a price to
pay for the loss of democracy and socialism.
     And the final word on Mr. Nixon: his recourse to allusions to
his mother, to his dead brothers, to the larger causes of peace and
welfare; the recourse to illusions of great sorrow and great joy,
to the gods of his viewers, these are cheap and theatrical ploys
which contradict whatever dignity and grace he may have mustered in
his other presentments.  Mr. Nixon is off stage and the nation is
better for it.  In speaking of the social conditions of the United
States in the 1972 election, Mr. Nixon had this to say:
                         As far as this kind of activity is
                         concerned, we expect it.  However, 
			 under no circumstances will I be 
			 affected whatever by it.
                                              ...Richard Nixon