She was once as famous as Jackie O—and then she tried to take down a President. Martha Mitchell was the unlikeliest of whistleblowers: a Republican wife who was discredited by Nixon to keep her quiet. Until now.
This short Netflix documentary opened my eyes to the part that Martha Mitchell may have played in the downfall of Tricky Dick himself, U. S. President Richard Nixon. She was the wife of Nixon's Attorney General and later his 1972 re-election campaign manager, John Mitchell, considered to be the man who organised the Watergate break-in. For long enough she supported Nixon, but once she made public her distaste for the Vietnam War, she was seen thereafter by the White House as a loose cannon and a potential liability to the re-election campaign.
Once Watergate hit the headlines, she sought to deflect her husband's role in the plot by saying that the buck went all the way to the top, meaning the President himself. Sadly, after Nixon's resignation, her husband left her and is actually caught on camera after receiving his prison sentence, uttering words to the effect that he still preferred that prospect over spending any more time with his then estranged wife.
Lionised in her lifetime in the press, on TV and to the American public at large as a truth-teller until Nixon's dirty-tricks saw her discredited and branded as an alcoholic mental case, she later tried to relaunch herself as a talk-show host on TV before she was sadly stricken down with what proved to be a terminal illness and died aged only 57 in 1976.
We see Nixon in one of his famous interviews with David Frost (he also interviewed Martha, but we get only a tiny glimpse of that, unfortunately) say on record 'If it hadn't been for Martha Mitchell, there'd have been no Watergate." and this after she'd died.
To attract two such quotes from both these high-profile crooks John Mitchell and of course Nixon certainly leads one to believe the floral tribute at her funeral which bore the legend "Martha was right!".
I appreciated learning about her story, even if I don't share her politics. The problem with this documentary was it was just too short and seemed to treat every major event, once she found her voice, like they were bullet points.
It's like suddenly her husband has separated from her, then she's on TV doing chat shows, then she's dying and then she's dead. She may just have been a footnote on the downfall of a disgraced president, but he certainly was well aware of her and I think the film-maker here did her a disservice in not expanding on her story more than is done here.
That said, at least her story is out there and I for one am glad I caught this flawed but interesting documentary profile of this very interesting lady.
Reviewed by spacechick-75-911009 / 10
She told the truth about Nixon, and was kidnapped, drugged, and held prisoner
Say what you will, but Martha Mitchell was a woman of her time. The 1970s were a completely different time in history for women. Most women were relegated to just being hostesses for their husbands political parties. Women were supposed to be seen but not heard. If any political conversations went on, the women were not involved they were relegated to another separate room. Martha Mitchell did not fit this type cast of a woman. She did not hold her tongue when it came to her opinions. She, along with her husband John Mitchell (later went to jail for organizing the Watergate break in) ran the campaign to reelect President Nixon in 1972.
Martha Mitchell broke the Watergate story. She was held prisoner in a hotel suite in California, drugged, made to appear mentally ill by her own husband and Richard Nixon and his crooks.
We owe a lot to this woman for her bravery to not be silenced. Yes, she drank a bit much, but that doesn't make her unusual for the women of the 70's. It certainly did not make her unpopular. The press loved her. Nixon avoided the Press like the Plague. He was a crook and he was laid open into the light by Martha Mitchell who suffered from financial, social and personal tragedy. In the end, from one woman to another I can say she hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for bringing down an entire corrupt President and All of His Men. Thank you Ms. Mitchell.
Reviewed by dierregi2 / 10
Mountain out of a molehill
Being European and of a younger generation I had never heard of Mrs. Mitchell but I thought the documentary may be interesting because of the Watergate connection. Turns out it was rather exploitative of the current fashion of putting a woman center stage, even if her part in the story was at best marginal.
What I learned from this is that Mrs. Mitchell was a loudmouth who craved attention and who managed to turn a national scandal into personal drama. She was described as an alcoholic and, with due respect, she looked and sounded slightly intoxicated in a couple of interviews. The fact that her enemy was the despicable Nixon doesn't make her a heroine or a particularly palatable character... and what was that "My husband abandoned me in California!" Couldn't she organize her own transport instead of whining on the phone?
Finally, apart from her generic blabbering about her husband and Nixon doing "horrible things", these things always remained unspecified and I doubt she knew much about the real goings on, even if the biased narrative wants to make it look like Mrs. Mitchell was the direct responsibility of Nixon's downfall.