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Government & Politics

Bob Woodward Shares 'Chilling' Words from Former President Richard Nixon About May 4 Shootings

A photo of Bob Woodward speaking on stage at Kent State University
Journalist Bob Woodward spoke at Kent State University on May 4, 2019.

Kent State University marked the 49th anniversary of the May 4 shootings with keynote speaker Bob Woodward.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist discussed his career at The Washington Post starting in 1971. 

He said in preparation for his speech at Kent State, he contacted one of the nation’s leading scholars on the secret recordings made by then-President Richard Nixon of his meetings in the Oval Office.  They discovered a previously unknown section -- recorded in 1971 – in which Nixon discusses the Attica Prison uprising, which ended when New York State troopers dropped tear gas and opened fire, killing 29 inmates.  Woodward quoted the exchange.

“Nixon: ‘You know what I think?  This might have one hell of a salutary effect.  You know what stops them?  Kill a few.’  ‘Sure,’ Haldeman said.  Nixon: ‘Remember Kent State?  Didn’t it have a hell of an effect?’”

Woodward called the remark “chilling” and counts it among Nixon’s “most outrageous” statements.