Dick Cavett was the host of “The Dick Cavett Show” and the co-author of two books, “Cavett” (1974) and “Eye on Cavett” (1983). He has appeared on Broadway in “Otherwise Engaged,” “Into the Woods” and as narrator in “The Rocky Horror Show,” and has made guest appearances in movies and on TV shows including “Forrest Gump” and “The Simpsons.” He currently operates a blog for the “Opinionator” section of the New York Times. Mr. Cavett lives in New York City and Montauk, N.Y.
Question: Why did Nixon dislike you?
Dick Cavett: The former, the erstwhile president and great un-indicted co-conspirator? I'm not sure exactly. The reason I find myself, and I learned this a couple years ago, and you can see it on You Tube, Cavett decides, Nixon Decides To Screw Cavett, I think it's titled, from the Nixon tapes, there he and Haldeman, his - for young folks, this was one of Richard Nixon's assistants, henchmen and lickspittles - said, "We've got to get Cavett." You know, who is, what is Cavett? Haldeman says, "Well, he's the worst, he's always loading the show with the - " Nixon cuts in with, "But what are we going to do?" Anyway, it contains the immortal line by the chief executive, "How can we screw him?" And Nixon's inevitable delivery, "Well, we're working on that," I think is how it went.
Partly it had to do with the fact that I testified that John Lennon should not be deported from the US, although Richard Nixon's administration and Richard Nixon wanted to. That again was Haldeman, there's a tape somewhere where Haldeman says, "You know, this Lennon, he could sway an election." And that was enough for Tricky Dick to hear. It's a shame about Nixon, I wrote two really good blogs about him in my New York Times online blog, Dick Cavett NY Times, I just read them, and they're better than I thought when I wrote them. One of them is very funny, very embarrassing at the same time, but I mention in them, the shame about Nixon is that he was certainly the most intelligent president we had had in a long time, and his remarkable brains and legal grasp and intelligence were so tragically wasted by his criminal personality.