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Frost-Nixon Interview Collection

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These materials were created by the Office of Richard Nixon and shipped to the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace following President Nixon's death in 1994. Kathy O'Connor, the former President's Chief of Staff, filed these materials with other "Sensitive" materials in folders and boxes color coded as "Lilac." The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace became part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in July of 2007. The Frost-Interview Collection was placed on "Courtesy Storage" with the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum until the Richard Nixon Foundation signed a deed of gift for a portion of the collection in December 2012 and transferred custody to NARA. The first portion of the collection transferred to NARA consisted of the video tape reels of the interviews. The transcripts of the interviews were transferred to NARA in 2013. The remainder of the textual materials of this collection were transferred to NARA in February of 2014.

Under the terms of a standard deed of gift, some materials which contain information of a personal nature or are security classified have been removed and placed in. a closed folder. A Withdrawal Sheet, NA Form 14021, with a description of each restricted document has been inserted at the beginning of each folder from which the material has been removed. A Document Control Record indicates the original position of the withdrawn item within the folder. The staff periodically reviews closed materials for the purpose of opening materials which no longer require restriction. Certain classified documents may be declassified under authority of Executive Order 13526 in response to a Mandatory Review Request (NA Form 14020) submitted by the researcher.

Extent:   4 linear feet, 5 linear inches
Approximate number of pages:  8,000

Historical Note

Former President Richard Nixon granted his first television interviews after leaving office to British journalist David Frost in 1977, which marked his return to public life. The agreement for the series of exclusive interviews was signed on August 9, 1975, exactly a year after Nixon's leaving office. However, the interviews were not conducted until 1977. Eleven interview sessions were recorded at a private home in Monarch Bay, California, between March 23 and April 20. The interviews were edited into four broadcasts that were sold in syndication to television stations around the world.

David Frost had earned notoriety in the United Kingdom in the 1960s by hosting the BBC televisions series That Was the Week That Was and The Frost Report. His career was considered to be in decline when he offered to pay the former President for an exclusive set of interviews. American television networks refused to carry the broadcasts because it was an example of "checkbook journalism." President Nixon was about to release his memoirs and agreed to the interviews as a way to start to rebuild his public image.

The interviews were a success in drawing public interest. An estimated 45 million viewers tuned in for the first broadcast which dealt with Watergate, the largest television audience for a political interview in history.

The interviews later becamethe subject of the play Frost/Nixon, which was released as a movie in 2008. David Frost went on to become a respected journalist and conducted several interviews with prominent political leaders. Richard Nixon wrote several books and provided his advice and expertise to several future Presidents on various foreign policy issues.

Scope and Content Note

This collection documents the preparation of President Nixon for the interviews. Members of his personal staff and former members of his White House staff created eleven briefing books for the President. The individuals involved included Frank Gannon, Pat Buchanan, Diane Sawyer, and Ray Price. Eleven briefing books were created for each of the major topics that were likely to be discussed, including the Vietnam War, United States-Soviet relations; Nixon's opening of relations with the People's Republic of China; a wide variety of domestic issues; Watergate; and the events leading up to the President's resignation from office.

It includes several draft versions of the briefing books that were identified as briefing binders. The binders include edits to the talking points that are handwritten by the staff members that participated and often made by President Nixon himself. There are also several pages of the President's handwritten notes. The collection also included loose and unfoldered materials that had no discernible arrangement.

The materials generated to prepare the President for the interviews make up the first three series of this collection.

The collection includes a copy of the original agreement/contract for the interviews signed by President Nixon and David Frost.

It includes four different versions of transcripts of the interviews. Preservation and original order for the transcripts was maintained by dividing them into series that document the order in which they were created. The Office of Richard Nixon created a set of transcripts designated as Speech File Drafts that appear to be the first drafts of the transcripts. The final series of the collection consist of the actual broadcast transcripts. Roughly 28 hours of interviews were edited down to four 90 minutes broadcasts.

Series Description

Boxes:   1-2
Series:   Briefing Books | Folder Title List
Spans:   January 1969-March 1977
Description:  This series is currently restricted under the terms of the deed of gift.

Boxes:   3-5
Series:   Briefing Binders | Folder Title List
Spans:   January 1969-March 1977
Description:  This series is currently restricted under the terms of the deed of gift.

Boxes:   6
Series:   Loose Briefing Materials | Folder Title List
Spans:   January 1969-March 1977
Description:  This series is currently restricted under the terms of the deed of gift.

Boxes:   6
Series:   Contract | Folder Title List
Spans:   August 1975
Description:  Contains a copy of the agreement reached by Richard M. Nixon and David Frost, David Paradine Films Ltd., Productions to conduct the interviews.

Boxes:   7-11
Series:   Transcripts | Folder Title List
Spans:   March 1977-May 1977
Description:  Contains daft transcripts of each interview session which include edits and corrections, the final draft of the transcripts, and the transcripts of broadcast versions of the interviews. The series is divided into four subseries for each type of transcript and are arranged chronologically by date of the interview sessions.

Folder Title List

Series I: Briefing Books

Series II: Briefing Binders

Series III: Loose Briefing Material

Series IV: Contract

Box 6

Nixon-Frost Interviews Contract, 08/09/1975

Series V: Transcripts
Subseries A: Speech File Drafts

Box 7

Day 1 (03/23/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 1 (03/23/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 1 (03/23/1977) - First Draft [1 of 2]
Day 1 (03/23/1977) - First Draft [2 of 2]
Day 2 (03/25/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 2 (03/25/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 3 (03/28/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 3 (03/28/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 4 (03/30/1977) [1 of 4]
Day 4 (03/30/1977) [2 of 4]
Day 4 (03/30/1977) [3 of 4]
Day 4 (03/30/1977) [4 of 4]
Day 5 (04/01/1977) [1 of 5]
Day 5 (04/01/1977) [2 of 5]
Day 5 (04/01/1977) [3 of 5]
Day 5 (04/01/1977) [4 of 5]
Day 5 (04/01/1977) [5 of 5]
Day 6 (04/04/1977)
Day 7 (04/06/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 7 (04/06/1977) [2 of 2]

Box 8

Day 8 (04/13/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 8 (04/13/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 9 (04/15/1977) [1of 2]
Day 9 (04/15/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 10 (04/18/1977) [1 of 2]
Day 10 (04/18/1977) [2 of 2]
Day 11 (04/20/1977) [1 of 3]
Day 11 (04/20/1977) [2 of 3]
Day 11 (04/20/1977) [3 of 3]
New York Times Coverage

Subseries B: Rough Drafts

Box 9

03/23/1977 [1 of 2]
03/23/1977 [2 of 2]
03/25/1977 [1 of 4]
03/25/1977 [2 of 4]
03/25/1977 [3 of 4]
03/25/1977 [4 of 4]
03/28/1977 [1 of 2]
03/28/1977 [2 of 2]
03/30/1977 [1 of 3]
03/30/1977 [2 of 3]
03/30/1977 [3 of 3]
04/01/1977 [1 of 4]
04/01/1977 [2 of 4]
04/01/1977 [3 of 4]
04/01/1977 [4 of 4]
04/04/1977
04/06/1977 [1 of 2]
04/16/1977 [2 of 2]
04/13/1977 [1 of 3]
04/13/1977 [2 of 3]
04/13/1977 [3 of 3]

Box 10

04/15/1977 [1 of 3]
04/15/1977 [2 of 3]
04/15/1977 [3 of 3]
04/18/1977 [1 of 2]
04/18/1977 [2 of 2]

Subseries C: Final Drafts

03/23/1977 [1 of 2]
03/23/1977 [2 of 2]
03/25/1977 [1 of 2]
03/25/1977 [2 of 2]
03/28/1977 [1 of 2]
03/28/1977 [2 of 2]
03/30/1977 [1 of 3]
03/30/1977 [2 of 3]
03/30/1977 [3 of 3]
04/01/1977 [1 of 3]
04/01/1977 [2 of 3]
04/01/1977 [3 of 3]
04/04/1977 [page 90 skipped] [1 of 3]
04/04/1977 [page 90 skipped] [2 of 3]
04/04/1977 [page 90 skipped] [3 of 3]

Box 11

04/06/1977 [1 of 3]
04/06/1977 [2 of 3]
04/06/1977 [3 of 3]
04/13/1977 [1 of 3]
04/13/1977 [2 of 3]
04/13/1977 [3 of 3]
04/15/1977 [1 of 3]
04/15/1977 [2 of 3]
04/15/1977 [3 of 3]
04/18/1977 [1 of 2]
04/18/1977 [2 of 2]
04/20/1977 [1 of 3]
04/20/1977 [2 of 3]
04/20/1977 [3 of 3]

Subseries D: Program Transcripts

Program #1 - Watergate 05/04/1977
Program #2
Program #3
Program #4
Program #5

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