Eighteen Five

It is the most infamous segment of time in American political history. It is the eighteen-and-a-half-minute gap left on the Watergate tapes, the result of an attempted erasure of the material by then-President Richard Nixon himself. For over 40 years, historians, conspiracists, and Nixon’s friends and foes alike have puzzled over the contents of the mysterious gap, but the answer was thought forever lost.

Until now.

Modern advances in magnetic restoration technology, as well as great leaps forward in sound editing with the advent of the digital age, have at long last made it possible to reconstruct the conversation over the lost 18 1/2 minutes. For the first time, this site presents excerpts from the restored gap, a surprising series of moments between Nixon and his top aide, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman. Candid, revelatory and sometimes shocking, it is a remarkable portrait in sound of our most controversial ­ and notorious ­ leader.


“So, what do you think of that Joey Heatherton?”

“I don’t think about her, Bob. I’m a married man.”

“I saw her on that Hollywood Squares show last year. Whoo-ee! Quite a looker, I must say.”

“I’m sure she’s great, Bob. Now, what about these goddamn plumbers, squeezing us?”

“She was on Klimbim, too.”

“What the fuck is Klimbim?”

“Some German show. I saw it when I was over there with the Cubans. It’s like Laugh-In.”

“Can’t we concentrate on the matter at hand?”

“Do you think I have a shot with her?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“You could pull some strings. You’re still the president.”

“This is really more of a Kissinger thing, Bob.”


“Do you like to do it like that, Bob?”

“Er…like what, Mr. President?”

“You know. From back there.”

“Um…do you?”

“What? Of course not, Bob! For Christ’s sake!”

“Uh…well, um. Me neither, then. I mean, too.”

“I bet Liddy does.”


“Oh, you know. He just seems like the type.”


“I didn’t even want to go to China. It was that fucking Kissinger’s idea. Those people stink, Bob.”

“Uh huh.”

“Nothing but noodles and ping pong and wall-to-wall Commies. I think that’s where dope comes from too.”

“Uh huh.”

“The only thing we got out of the whole goddamn deal was checkers.”

“Uh h…what?”

“Checkers! That’s all we got from those red bastards!”

Checkers? Your dog?”

“No, for fuck’s sake, Bob, Chinese checkers! Christ! Why don’t you listen to me?”

“Sorry, sir.”


“So what do you call this again, Bob?”

“It’s called ‘4’33″‘, Mr. President. It’s by John Cage.”

“Let’s listen to it now.”


“…and so, that’s how I authorized the break-in at the Watergate Hotel as part of my plan to interfere with the Democratic National Convention.”


“I planned the whole thing. I had complete knowledge of it from start to finish.”

“Mr. President, I…”

“And, of course, ever since that time, I have been actively covering up the entire thing, as you are of course aware from these conversations we’ve been having, and are in fact still having at this very moment.”

“Dick, for God’s sake! Don’t you realize how incriminating this is?”

“Jesus, Bob, don’t be such a pantywaist. I’m going to erase all these tapes. Now quit being such a nervous Nellie and go tell Ford to put on the nurses’ outfit and get in here.”


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