January 20, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

The Saturday Night Massacre + 40

Today celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Saturday Night Massacre. This graphic treatment in tomorrow’s LA Times. Thanks to Susan Brenneman and Wes Bausmith for above and beyond the call help.

The firing of the special Watergate prosecutor Cox, by Nixon marks a moment in history when the nation changed by widespread immediate consensus that a politician had gone too far. It has implication for our times. We learned that he incredible cannot happen . . . until it does. Etc.

SNM Nixon 1

Nixon would not let go of tapes that are suspected of implicating him in the cover up.

SNM Cox 2


Special Prosector Archibald Cox needed those tapes for his investigation.

SNM Nixon 3


Nixon, of course, says no, claiming executive privilege.

SNM Sirica 4

Judge Sirica, a tough guy, doesn’t buy that.


SNM Nixon 5

Nixon comes up with a plan to release the tapes where they would be reviewed . . . by him!

SNM Cox 6

Cox calls it what it is: BS.


SNM Richardson 7

That’s all, Nixon says. On Oct, 20, Saturday, Nixon orders AG Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refuses and quits!


SNM Ruckelshause 8


Next in line was Dep. AG William Ruckelshaus. He quits too!

SNM Bork 9

Next Nixon goes to Solicitor General Robert Bork.  Bork says yes and fires Cox.


SNM Protest 10This becomes a huge story, reported in media in almost real time. That night young people gathered at the White House. The American people rose up and demanded action.  Leaders in Congress held a meeting that weekend to for the first time seriously discuss impeachment.

The people (well informed and) united will (mostly) never be defeated.

PS: Nixon was forced to hire a replacement prosector, Leon Jaworski, who, it turned out, was just as tough as Cox would have been. Every single player in Watregate, that includes cabinet members as well as many senior and junior lieutenants, went to prison. Except, of course, for You Know Who. Who by the way goes down in history primary, not for any achievements in the White house, but for Watergate, impeachment, resignation and disgrace. Justice was ultimately done.

Saturday Night Massacre Final150 w correx

Paul Conrad

Paul Conrad, who we lost this weekend, was an idol to me and all caricaturists and cartoonists who wondered at the power of ink on paper as a force in the world.  I slotted in here his Nixon as Richard III, a favorite of mine. His lines were simple but contained great energy and unraveled anger.  He, Mauldin and Herblock were the big three who went into battle in America’s clearest moments of truth.  Media played an important role.  It was fact-based then.  All three men had the power of major high circulation dailies behind them.  There isn’t an equivalent today.  LBJ and Nixon had as much to fear from the cartoonists as they did from the great editorial and column writers of the day. And Vietnam, Watergate and Jim Crow America were clear and vitally important targets.  Conrad did us proud.  And inspired this artist among many others.  Below is the LA Times remembrance by his friend Tim Rutten and the complete doc on Paul by Barbara Multer and Jeffrey Abelson. Happy to present it here.  Remembering Conrad today and always.

Paul Conrad was powerful, inspiring — and a friend

By Tim Rutten

He never lost his sense of outrage.

My friend Paul Conrad, who died Saturday at 86, was the premier editorial cartoonist of his generation and, for many years, this newspaper’s most visible public face. Outrage informed his journalism and animated his art. He woke up each morning angry about some new injustice and allowed sleep to overtake him each night only so that he could get up mad the next day and do it all again.

He was always and everywhere on the side of decency and ordinary men and women. His targets were the self-satisfied powerful, those indifferent to or antagonistic to our common good, and they included presidents — as in these cartoons — as well as governors, mayors, popes and corporate executives. Among his proudest accomplishments was making Richard Nixon’s enemies list.

Conrad had the strength to speak out so forcefully — through his incomparable drawings — because he was, in Yeats’ phrase, a “rooted man.” His values were rooted in the New Deal’s politics of remedy, in the social gospel of his Catholic faith and in the experience of the family he treasured beyond all else. The astonishing thing about his three Pulitzer Prizes was that he won them in three decades that were among the most tumultuous in modern American history. His willingness to engage our common condition, intensely and personally, was a hallmark of his work.

For those of us who came of age on The Times in the 1970s, he was an inspiration. Those of us who worked with him got up each morning hoping we’d live up to his example and knowing we’d fall short.


Today, on his birthday, we remember Pres.  Gerald R. Ford, 1974-77.  “Not a Lincoln”, he said, “but a Ford”.  A good stab at autobiography.  In fact he was a place-holder while the country caught its breath after 6 years of Nixon. He promised to Whip Inflation Now, told NY City to Drop Dead, sort of, but mostly will be remembered for pardoning Nixon, a guilty felon if ever we saw one (although small fry next to the still at-large Bush gang). The pardon may have cost him the election to Carter; also perhaps his accident-prone personae, brightly underlined in early episodes of Saturday Night Live. Here Nixon is his biggest bump. My favorite Ford line, “We gave Jimmy Carter the economy on a silver platter  . . . and he blew it.”