Watergate hero gets no respect

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We admit it. We can’t resist THE SMOKING GUN, where the power of The Freedom of Information Act is taken to its logical and entertaining extremes.

Take, for example, a new addition to the site (this one didn’t require a FOIA — it’s in the NATIONAL ARCHIVES): The Watergate hotel security guard’s handwritten log of events the night of the infamous break in, when Nixon cronies sneaked into Democratic National Committee headquarters on the hotel’s sixth floor the night of June 17, 1972.

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9/23 – Tokyo gets toasty In sloppy, loopy elementary school cursive, overnight hotel rent-a-cop turned American hero Frank Wills begins to notice something awry when he comes on duty at midnight to find a door in the basement with its latch taped back to prevent it from locking:

12:20 a.m.: “B2 Level door stuff with paper. Both doors also one door on the other on B3 level was open the other stuff with paper and the door annex outside off (sic) office building was open.” Wills notes removing the tape and closing the doors, only to find that someone has retaped them when he returns 10 minutes later. According to the log, Wills called the police at 1:47 a.m. The interlopers were caught in the act minutes later. The rest, as they say, is history.

Whatever happened to Frank Wills? Before he died penniless this week, he had old reporters he was blacklisted in DC and couldn’t get a job because of his role in Watergate, so he moved back to Augusta, Ga. He did play himself in the film adaptation of “All the President’s Men,” but says he’s alienated by politics because he got nothing for essentially exposing a national scandal. “Not even from the Democrats,” he told the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE in 1997.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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