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Fri Mar 22, 2019, 02:20 PM

Little-known story about the Watergate break-in: Trump Isn't first to be vexed by confidant's spouse

"In psychology circles, there’s an unofficial concept called “the Martha Mitchell effect.” It’s the tendency to diagnose someone as mentally ill simply because the story they tell is so bizarre, without checking whether the bizarre story is in fact true.

That’s what happened to Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of President Richard M. Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell. She was dismissed as “crazy” for her wild claims about the Nixon administration and issued a public ultimatum to her husband to choose her or the president."

George Mitchell was Nixon's Attorney General and re-election campaign manager. His wife, Martha Mitchell was nicknamed "the Mouth from the South" by press for her frequent controversial political comments to the media. When Nixon's "plumbers" were arrested while breaking into Democratic Party's headquarters in the Watergate Hotel, John Mitchell realized that his wife knew one of them and could connect him to Nixon. He phoned his wife's bodyguard and ordered him to prevent his wife from making any phone calls or speaking to the press. Having just heard the news about the break-in, she was already on the phone with UPI's Helen Thomas. The bodyguard ripped the phone off the wall and kept her confined and sedated in the hotel room for several days. The Nixon administration subsequently leaked rumors that Mitchell was mentally ill and an alcoholic to limit her credibility. John Mitchell did resign as a result, although he continued to stand by Nixon and was indicted as a Watergate co-conspirator. The ending to Marths's story is a sad one though. She died a few years later of cancer at the age of 57, "desperately ill and without friends and without funds" according to her lawyer.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2019/03/21/im-political-prisoner-how-martha-mitchell-became-george-conway-nixon-era/?utm_term=.fbc70d1674c8

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