Conspiracy Watch: Teddygate

Was Hillary Clinton a twentysomething Machiavelli? A former Nixon staffer peddles the secret plot to make Ted Kennedy president.

Illustration: Peter Hoey

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


the conspiracy: Most Americans mistakenly think that Watergate is synonymous with President Richard Nixon’s abuse of presidential power. But the real scandal wasn’t a Republican White House run amok. Rather, the true outrage was a Democratic Congress that used an investigative witch-hunt to cover up its nefarious effort to install Senator Ted Kennedy in the Oval Office. Among the “Camelot conspirators”: Hillary Rodham, a suspiciously powerful and sneaky Watergate investigation staffer fresh out of law school.

the conspiracy theorists: Geoff Shepard, a former Nixon White House official with a 35-year-old chip on his shoulder and a new book to peddle, The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President. The Watergate-as-Kennedy-steppingstone idea has also been floated by Jerry Zeifman, former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, who claims that Rodham and other Democrats sought to drag out the scandal to “enhance the prospect of Senator Kennedy or another liberal Democrat being elected president in 1976.”

meanwhile, back on earth: Who cares, and why now? This new spin on Watergate sounds like a nonstarter. But never underestimate the potential for conservative radio and blogs to run with a wacky theory, especially one that discredits congressional inquiries into Republican high crimes and misdemeanors, and—even better—casts Hillary Clinton as a twentysomething Machiavelli and takes down Barack Obama’s biggest senatorial supporter.

Kookiness Rating: tin foil hattin foil hattin foil hattin foil hat (1=maybe they’re on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate