May 13th 2017 by defkatatak • 8 Questions • 167 Points
When I was a student at the University of Virginia, I interned for the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program through which I transcribed hundreds of hours of secretly recorded White House tapes. Presidents from the Eisenhower Administration to the Nixon Administration secretly recorded their conversations in the Oval Office, Executive Office Building, and Camp David. I mostly transcribed President Nixon's tapes, but I also transcribed a few of Pres. Kennedy's and Pres. LBJ's tapes.
I mentioned this in a /r/todayilearned thread about Pres. Nixon's secretly recorded tapes and received requests to do a AMA: https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/6at8be/til_richard_nixon_possessed_3700_hours_of_taped/dhhp6xp/
More about the Presidential Recordings Program: https://millercenter.org/about-presidential-recordings-program
My Proof: I'm happy to send my internship offer letter/ other email correspondence with my supervisor to an admin.
Edit: I because I pasted the wrong link earlier.
Haha yes, that's why I decided/ was asked to do a AMA! I think that presidents should secretly record their conversations in the interest of transparency and historical analysis. As far as most know, the secret recordings stopped with Pres. Nixon after Watergate, but I wouldn't be surprised if they continued. That said, the tapes shouldn't be a political tool to be used by a president (like Pres. Trump)- they should be an apolitical, historical tool.
Prior to this type of work, did you have a particular mindset, and did it change as a result of the "insider" knowledge, even if it was a "Monday morning quarterback" situation?
Interesting question! I've always been interested in politics and history, but I admittedly didn't know much about Pres. Nixon before I started transcribing his tapes beyond the Watergate scandal. I learned a lot about the day to day responsibilities of a president, such as meeting with staff members, debating appointees, planning campaign activity, entertaining VIPs in the White House, and trying to spin the news. I still think Pres. Nixon was a bad president, but I have a better understanding of who he was and what his motivations were. I spent so much time listening to his conversations that I consider him a "crazy uncle" type figure. Also, I came to realize how insecure and desperate he was (he would get drunk and talk to White House paintings and was desperate for validation from his staffers) and sort of felt sad for him.