International Newspaper Editorials Urge President Nixon to Resign
When President Richard M. Nixon made his nationally-televised address to the nation on Aug. 8, 1974, announcing he was resigning the presidency, the news came as a relief to an American public weary and frustrated by the Watergate scandal. The sense of relief was felt far beyond the United States, as the following international newspaper editorials reveal. These two newspaper articles, each summarizing international opinion, were printed in American papers on Aug. 8 without knowing the president planned to resign later that day.
This copyrighted article was printed by the Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas) on Aug. 8, 1974:
Western Papers Urge Resignation
Brussels (UPI)—Newspapers in the Western world, some in blunt editorials calling President Nixon a “liar” and a “crook,” urged him Wednesday to resign for the good of the United States and the world.
The Soviet press ignored Nixon’s vow that he will not resign and said East-West détente will go ahead regardless of “individual personalities.”
But the Western press bannered Nixon’s decision to stay in office.
“Nixon is dead—but he won’t lie down,” read the banner headline in the London Guardian, which said editorially:
“Better a mediocrity that a crook…the tapes have shown him to be both a liar and a crook.”
The London Daily Telegraph said Nixon’s refusal to resign “may be a credit to his toughness and, in a sense, there is something to be admired in his refusal to submit. It is not, however, any service to the world.”
“The need for the President’s resignation or for a very quick disposal of the impeachment proceedings is…more urgent than ever,” the Times of London said.
The London Daily Mail said Nixon “must nerve himself long enough to make the last presidential decision of his life. He must resign.”
Editorial comment elsewhere included:
Le Peuple of Belgium: under the headline “Richard the Cheater”: “(Nixon’s) political methods were not only those of a poker player, but of a man who cheats at poker. Now Richard Nixon must get out, without glory.”
France-Soir of Paris: “What an extraordinary person Nixon is. He is beaten and he knows it. But he refuses to admit defeat.”
Vienna’s Kronenzeitung: “The U.S. President has become an unbearable safety risk for the Western world as even his own party has lost confidence in him.”
Israel’s Ma’Ariv: “The world will have to accustom itself to the idea that in the near future, a new man will lead the American administration. But until the new government can function efficiently, a vacuum is created which implies many dangers.”
Politiken of Copenhagen: “We earlier wrote that Nixon is a criminal—now we have his own word that it was true.”
Stockholm’s Expressen: “Every day that Nixon clings to his post is dangerous to the whole world.”
This copyrighted article was printed by the Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) on Aug. 8, 1974:
Foreign Comment on Watergate Is Sudden, Intense
© New York Times Service
London—A storm of intense reaction to President Nixon’s latest Watergate disclosures is sweeping Europe, where the American political crisis has suddenly eclipsed all other issues in public debate.
In virtually every European capital, Nixon’s plight has been treated with banner headlines on the front page of the newspapers. Radio and television have been blanketed with special Watergate programming.
Many Europeans are taking the affair seriously for the first time, after regarding it from the outset as no more than a domestic American squabble of little consequence. Now the realization is setting in that Nixon’s ability to retain the presidency is in doubt.
In London, the bookmakers have stopped taking bets at any odds on the survival of Nixon as president. Only last week it was even money that the President would finish out his term of office.
In Rome, a public official said: “It is an interesting switch in the mentality of America. Before, no one dreamed of expecting that politicians would be completely honest. Now, with Watergate, they are suddenly supposed to be lily white.”
Newspaper comment has been the most caustic in memory. In Paris, Le Monde said in an editorial: “There is something pathetic in what must be called the uncontrollable agony of President Nixon…The most recent restatement of Monday, which is evidently not the last, is at the same time overwhelming and pitiful.”
The Guardian, normally one of Britain’s moderate newspapers, said yesterday in a front-page banner headline: “Nixon is dead—but he won’t lie down.” The lead news story beneath the headline said in its first paragraph: “He is displaying a masochistic determination to stay until the bitter end.”
In an editorial, the same newspaper said: “Better a mediocrity than a crook,” adding, “The tapes have shown him to be both a liar and a crook.”
The Times of London, calling for the President’s resignation, said: “Mr. Nixon is finished. There can no longer be any doubt about that after his extraordinary statement on Monday night.” The paper added that the President had “finally removed any lingering doubt about his guilt.”
The Daily Telegraph, perhaps Britain’s most conservative paper, editorialized that Nixon could no longer hope to maintain a viable presidency. “The sordid clique which he brought into the White House and with which he talked in a sleazy and obscenely vulgar style entirely absent from his talks and contacts with others seems to have corroded part of his character,” the paper said.
In Germany, the conservative Hamburg daily Die Welt took the unusual step, at least for a German newspaper, of running the text of one of the tape recordings involving a discussion between President Nixon and his former chief aide, H. R. Haldeman, about limiting the Federal Bureau of Investigation when it was looking into Watergate matters.
Despite their almost exclusive preoccupation with internal problems, two of Portugal’s leading newspapers featured stories and pictures of Nixon on their front pages. One of them, Diario de Noticias, spoke of the President’s “historic confessions.”
The only major newspaper in Italy still supporting President Nixon openly is the organ of the neo-Fascist Italian Social Movement, the most right-wing of the parliamentary parties. It said yesterday in a headline: “The White House rallies around Nixon.”
The left-wing Paese Sera commented: “Today America knows, beyond any doubt, that its 37th President has been a fraud.”
In Switzerland, both the 24 Heures of Lausanne and La Tribune de Geneve said the Watergate crisis had proven the strength of the American system. “The strength of the system has been demonstrated by the weakness of the man who is supposed to incarnate it,” wrote La Tribune.
L’Aurore, a conservative French daily, called President Nixon “an inventive gambler who does not leave the table when he is frantic.” It continued: “Even when he is in the process of losing his shirt and his honor, even if he drags down his family, his entourage and an entire country in his fall, the gambler stays riveted to his game.”
Another leading conservative paper, Le Figaro, was virtually alone among leading publications in maintaining its support of the President. “How can one put in balance what is, in sum, only the smudge of an election campaign with the work of a President who can be proud of having made peace with Mao and Brezhnev, who brought Europe to heel and who avoided the worst in the Middle East?” the paper asked. “Judged in its true perspective, the Watergate dossier does not hold.”