Below is a transcript from a May 13, 1971, conversation among President Richard Nixon, John D. Ehrlichman, and H. R. Haldeman. The dialogue was transcribed by Chicago Tribune reporter James Warren.
Among the shocking things Nixon is heard saying is his reference to gays in San Francisco:
Decorators. They got to do something. But we don’t have to glorify it. You know one of the reasons fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Designers taking it out on the women.”
On October 5, 1999, the National Archives made available to the public 445 hours of previously unreleased Oval Office tapes.
CNN has also made an abbreviated version of the audio recordings:
EHRLICHMAN: A panel show?
H. R. HALDEMAN: No, it’s a regular show. It’s on every week. It’s usually just done in the guy’s home. It’s usually just that guy, who’s a hard hat.
NIXON: That’s right; he’s a hard hat.
EHRLICHMAN: He always looks like a slob.
NIXON: Looks like Jackie Gleason.
HALDEMAN: He has this hippie son-in-law, and usually the general trend is to downgrade him and upgrade the son-in-law–make the square hard hat out to be bad. But a few weeks ago, they had one in which the guy, the son-in-law, wrote a letter to you, President Nixon, to raise hell about something. And the guy said, “You will not write that letter from my home!” Then said, “I’m going to write President Nixon,” took off all those sloppy clothes, shaved, and went to his desk and got ready to write his letter to President Nixon. And apparently it was a good episode.
EHRLICHMAN: What’s it called?
NIXON: “Archie’s Guys.” Archie is sitting here with his hippie son-in-law, married to the screwball daughter. The son-in-law apparently goes both ways. This guy. He’s obviously queer–wears an ascot–but not offensively so. Very clever. Uses nice language. Shows pictures of his parents. And so Arch goes down to the bar. Sees his best friend, who used to play professional football. Virile, strong, this and that. Then the fairy comes into the bar.
I don’t mind the homosexuality. I understand it. Nevertheless, goddamn, I don’t think you glorify it on public television, homosexuality, even more than you glorify whores. We all know we have weaknesses. But, goddammit, what do you think that does to kids? You know what happened to the Greeks! Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo. We all know that. So was Socrates.
EHRLICHMAN: But he never had the influence television had.
NIXON: You know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags. Neither in a public way. You know what happened to the popes? They were layin’ the nuns; that’s been goin’ on for years, centuries. But the Catholic Church went to hell three or four centuries ago. It was homosexual, and it had to be cleaned out. That’s what’s happened to Britain. It happened earlier to France.
Let’s look at the strong societies. The Russians. Goddamn, they root ’em out. They don’t let ’em around at all. I don’t know what they do with them. Look at this country. You think the Russians allow dope? Homosexuality, dope, immorality, are the enemies of strong societies. That’s why the Communists and left-wingers are clinging to one another. They’re trying to destroy us. I know Moynihan will disagree with this, [Attorney General John] Mitchell will, and Garment will. But, goddamn, we have to stand up to this.
EHRLICHMAN: It’s fatal liberality.
EHRLICHMAN: It’s fatal liberality. And with its use on television, it has such leverage.
NIXON: You know what’s happened [in northern California]?
EHRLICHMAN: San Francisco has just gone clear over.
NIXON: But it’s not just the ratty part of town. The upper class in San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time–it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.
Decorators. They got to do something. But we don’t have to glorify it. You know one of the reasons fashions have made women look so terrible is because the goddamned designers hate women. Designers taking it out on the women. Now they’re trying to get some more sexy things coming on again.
EHRLICHMAN: Hot pants.
NIXON: Jesus Christ.