Nixon’s Enemies List
is the informal name of what started as a list of President Richard Nixon
’s major political opponents compiled by Charles Colson
, written by George T. Bell
(assistant to Colson, special counsel to the White House) and sent in memorandum
form to John Dean
on September 9
. The list was part of a campaign officially known as “Opponents List” and “Political Enemies Project.” The official purpose, as described by the White House Counsel
’s Office, was to “screw” Nixon’s political enemies, by means of tax audits from the IRS
, and by manipulating “grant availability, federal contracts, litigation, prosecution, etc.”
In a memorandum from John Dean to Lawrence Higby (August 16, 1971), Dean explained the purpose of the list succinctly:
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
The original 20 names in Colson’s memo (and his notes accompanying them) were as follows, although a master list of Nixon political opponents and another list, with a combined total of over 30,000 names, were developed later.
Verbatim text of Colson's original memo (with his comments)
"Having studied the attached material and evaluated the recommendations for the discussed action, I believe you will find my list worthwhile for status. It is in priority order."
- Arnold M. Picker, United Artists Corp., New York; Top Muskie fund raiser. Success here could be both debilitating and very embarrassing to the Muskie machine. If effort looks promising, both Ruth and David Picker should be programmed and then a follow through with United Artists.
- Alexander E. Barkan, national director of A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s Committee on Political Education, Washington, D.C.: Without a doubt the most powerful political force programmed against us in 1968 ($10-million, 4.6 million votes, 115 million pamphlets, 176,000 workers—all programmed by Barkan’s C.O.P.E.—so says Teddy White in The Making of the President 1968). We can expect the same effort this time.
- Ed Guthman, managing editor, Los Angeles Times national editor: Guthman, former Kennedy aide, was a highly sophisticated hatchetman against us in '68. It is obvious he is the prime mover behind the current Key Biscayne effort. It is time to give him the message.
- Maxwell Dane, Doyle, Dane and Bernbach, New York: The top Democratic advertising firm—they destroyed Goldwater in ’64. They should be hit hard starting with Dane.
- Charles Dyson, Dyson-Kissner Corporation, New York: Dyson and Larry O’Brien were close business associates after ’68. Dyson has huge business holdings and is presently deeply involved in the Businessmen’s Educational Fund which bankrolls a national radio network of five-minute programs, anti-Nixon in character.
- Howard Stein, Dreyfus Corporation, New York: Heaviest contributor to McCarthy in ’68. If McCarthy goes, will do the same in ’72. If not, Lindsay or McGovern will receive the funds.
- Allard Lowenstein, Long Island, New York: Guiding force behind the 18-year-old “Dump Nixon” vote drive.
- Morton Halperin, leading executive at Common Cause: A scandal would be most helpful here. (A consultant for Common Cause in February-March 1971) (On staff of Brookings Institution)
- Leonard Woodcock, United Auto Workers, Detroit, Michigan: No comments necessary.
- S. Sterling Munro, Jr., Senator Henry M. Jackson’s aide, Silver Spring, Maryland: We should give him a try. Positive results would stick a pin in Jackson’s white hat.
- Bernard T. Feld, president, Council for a Livable World: Heavy far left funding. They will program an “all court press” against us in ’72.
- Sidney Davidoff, New York City, Lindsay’s top personal aide: a first class S.O.B., wheeler-dealer and suspected bagman. Positive results would really shake the Lindsay camp and Lindsay’s plans to capture youth vote. Davidoff in charge.
- John Conyers, congressman, Detroit: Coming on fast. Emerging as a leading black anti-Nixon spokesman. Has known weakness for white females.
- Samuel M. Lambert, president, National Education Association: Has taken us on vis-a-vis federal aid to parochial schools—a ’72 issue.
- Stewart Rawlings Mott, Mott Associates New York: Nothing but big money for radic-lib candidates.
- Ron Dellums, congressman, California: Had extensive EMK-Tunney support in his election bid. Success might help in California next year.
- Daniel Schorr, Columbia Broadcasting System, Washington: A real media enemy.
- S. Harrison Dogole, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: President of Globe Security Systems—fourth largest private detective agency in U.S. Heavy Humphrey contributor. Could program his agency against us.
- Paul Newman, California: Radic-lib causes. Heavy McCarthy involvement ’68. Used effectively in nationwide T.V. commercials. ’72 involvement certain.
- Mary McGrory, Washington columnist: Daily hate Nixon articles.
When this list was released, Daniel Schorr read it live on television, not realizing that he was on the list until he came to his own name.
Master list of political opponents
According to Dean, Colson later compiled hundreds of names on a “master list” which changed constantly. The full list includes many notable people and publications, including Jane Fonda, Bill Cosby, Barbra Streisand,The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Actor Paul Newman stated that his inclusion on the list was one of his greatest accomplishments.
In Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Hunter S. Thompson expresses disappointment in not having been included on the list.
Carl Djerassi's autobiography The Pill, Pigmy Chimps, and Degas' Horse states that President Nixon awarded him the National Medal of Science when he was on the Enemies List. He learned this from an article in the San Francisco Examiner a few months later.
In the Simpsons episode "Homer's Enemy" (Season 8, Episode 23, first broadcast May 4th 1997) Nixon's enemies list was referenced when Moe the bartender admits to also having many enemies and pulls out a list to illustrate. It is revealed that Moe's enemies list was simply Richard Nixon's but with Nixon's name scratched out.
Moe: As hard as it is to believe, some people don't care for me, neither.
Homer: (shakes head) No, I won't accept that.
Moe: No, it's true. I got their names written down right here, in what I call my, uh, "enemies list".
Barney: (takes the list from Moe and reads it) Jane Fonda, Daniel Schorr, Jack Anderson... Hey, this is Richard Nixon's enemies list! You just crossed out his name and put yours.
Moe: Gimme that! (snatches the list and writes down) Barney... Gumble..."