What if We Could Eavesdrop On Conversations Taking Place in the Oval Office?

Since the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, several Presidents of the United States have used a secret taping system to record conversations, including phone calls, which are now available as a matter of public record (with some deletions for national security reasons).  Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon used this system extensively, with devastating consequences for Nixon.


The Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia has done a magnificent job of archiving and making accessible the presidential recordings linked to this site. (The picture just below was taken from their web page.) They have provided an amazing resource for the nation.


Click here for a Link to Transcripts and Audio Clips Secretly Recorded in the White House

Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon: Case Studies in Secrecy

  • What is most revealing about the way John Kennedy handled himself in the recording(s) you listened to?
  • How would you characterize Johnson's behavior on the tapes?
  • President Nixon made some highly damaging remarks on the tapes.  Can you explain how they led to his ouster?
  • What was public opinion like when, at the height of the Watergate crisis, it was learned that tapes existed which would prove what President Nixon had actually said in the Oval Office?