Conspiracy Watch: Teddygate

Was Hillary Clinton a twentysomething Machiavelli? A former Nixon staffer peddles the secret plot to make Ted Kennedy president.

Illustration: Peter Hoey

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


the conspiracy: Most Americans mistakenly think that Watergate is synonymous with President Richard Nixon’s abuse of presidential power. But the real scandal wasn’t a Republican White House run amok. Rather, the true outrage was a Democratic Congress that used an investigative witch-hunt to cover up its nefarious effort to install Senator Ted Kennedy in the Oval Office. Among the “Camelot conspirators”: Hillary Rodham, a suspiciously powerful and sneaky Watergate investigation staffer fresh out of law school.

the conspiracy theorists: Geoff Shepard, a former Nixon White House official with a 35-year-old chip on his shoulder and a new book to peddle, The Secret Plot to Make Ted Kennedy President. The Watergate-as-Kennedy-steppingstone idea has also been floated by Jerry Zeifman, former chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, who claims that Rodham and other Democrats sought to drag out the scandal to “enhance the prospect of Senator Kennedy or another liberal Democrat being elected president in 1976.”

meanwhile, back on earth: Who cares, and why now? This new spin on Watergate sounds like a nonstarter. But never underestimate the potential for conservative radio and blogs to run with a wacky theory, especially one that discredits congressional inquiries into Republican high crimes and misdemeanors, and—even better—casts Hillary Clinton as a twentysomething Machiavelli and takes down Barack Obama’s biggest senatorial supporter.

Kookiness Rating: tin foil hattin foil hattin foil hattin foil hat (1=maybe they’re on to something, 5=break out the tinfoil hat!)

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate