Supported by

The Atlantic Selects

The Day Nixon Cracked

May 02, 2015 | 831 videos
Video by Scott Calonico

The most bizarre moment of Richard Nixon's presidency happened on May 9, 1970. Days after the Ohio National Guard killed four college students at Kent State University—and less than two weeks after the invasion of Cambodia began—the president took an impromptu, late-night walk to the Lincoln Memorial with Manolo Sanchez, a White House valet. Nixon stumbled across dozens of student protesters at the site, with whom he engaged in bizarre, rambling debate. Scott Calonico, a filmmaker with a fantastic eye for American history, recounts the event in this fascinating documentary.

The documentary is largely based on the never-before-published photographs of a protestor, Bob Moustaskas, and memos recorded by Nixon later that day. When the tapes were finally released to the public in 2011, Atlantic contributor Tom McNichol wrote about the event, concluding: "Listening to Nixon describe his bizarre sojourn to the Lincoln Memorial is to hear a man who's already sold himself on an alternate version of reality." To learn more, including details about Nixon's bizarre statements to the protestors, read McNichol's piece.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Author: Chris Heller

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.