Whenever I have had my doubts I remembered the construction worker in Philadelphia because he came up to me and he said "Sir I got only one criticism of that Cambodia thing; if you'd gone in earlier you might've captured the gun that killed my boy three months ago." So you're asking me do I regret going into Cambodia?... No, I don't. You know what, I wish I'd gone in sooner. And harder!
I let them down. I let down my friends, I let down my country, and worst of all I let down our system of government, and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but now they think: "Oh it's all too corrupt and the rest." Yeah... I let the American people down. And I'm gonna have to carry that burden with me for the rest of my life. My political life is over.
You know the first and greatest sin of the deception of television is that it simplifies; it diminishes great, complex ideas, stretches of time; whole careers become reduced to a single snapshot. At first I couldn't understand why Bob Zelnick was quite as euphoric as he was after the interviews, or why John Birt felt moved to strip naked and rush into the ocean to celebrate. But that was before I really understood the reductive power of the close-up, because David had succeeded on that final day, in getting for a fleeting moment what no investigative journalist, no state prosecutor, no judiciary committee or political enemy had managed to get; Richard Nixon's face swollen and ravaged by loneliness, self-loathing and defeat. The rest of the project and its failings would not only be forgotten, they would totally cease to exist.
You have to set up that he has an anti-democratic personality. There's a reason they call him Tricky Dick.
The man lost twenty-one thousand americans and a million Indochinese during His administration. He only escaped jail because of Ford's pardon. Right now, I submit its impossible to feel anything close to sympathy for Richard Nixon. He devalued the presidency and He left the country that elected Him in trauma. The American people need a conviction, pure and simple. The integrity of our political system, of Democracy as an idea, entirely depends on it. And, in years to come, if people look back and say that it was in this interview that Richard Nixon exonerated Himself, that would be the worst crime of all.
Well, in boxing, you know, there's always that first moment, and you see it in the challenger's face. It's that moment that he feels the impact from the champ's first jab. It's kind of a sickening moment, when he realizes that all those months of pep talks and the hype, the psyching yourself up, had been delusional all along. You could see it in Frost's face. If he didn't know the caliber of the man that he was up against before the interview started, he certainly knew it halfway through the President's first answer.
Richard Nixon: That's our tragedy, you and I, Mr. Frost. No matter how high we get, they still look down at us.
David Frost: I really don't know what you're talking about.
Richard Nixon: Yes you do. Now come on. No matter how many awards or column inches are written about you, or how high the elected office is, it's still not enough. We still feel like the little man. The loser. They told us we were a hundred times, the smart asses in college, the high ups. The well-born. The people whose respect we really wanted. Really craved. And isn't that why we work so hard now, why we fight for every inch? Scrambling our way up in undignified fashion. If we're honest for a minute, if we reflect privately, just for a moment, if we allow ourselves a glimpse into that shadowy place we call our soul, isn't that why we're here? Now? The two of us. Looking for a way back into the sun. Into the limelight. Back onto the winner's podium. Because we can feel it slipping away. We were headed, both of us, for the dirt. The place the snobs always told us that we'd end up. Face in the dust, humiliated all the more for having tried. So pitifully hard. Well, to hell with that! We're not going to let that happen, either of us. We're going to show those bums, we're going to make 'em choke on our continued success. Our continued headlines! Our continued awards! And power! And glory! We are gonna make those mother fuckers choke! Am I right?
David Frost: You are, except only one of us can win.
Richard Nixon: You know those parties of yours, the ones I read about in the newspapers. Do you actually enjoy those?
David Frost: Of course.
Richard Nixon: You have no idea how fortunate that makes you, liking people. Being liked. Having that facility. That lightness, that charm. I don't have it, I never did.
David Frost: Are you really saying the President can do something illegal?
Richard Nixon: I'm saying that when the President does it, it's not illegal!