The recent opening of Frost/Nixon coincided not only with the holidays but also with the legacy-building tour of President George W. Bush, who’s been scrambling like an undergraduate with a term paper due to paste together something resembling an honorable narrative about his disastrous presidency. He failed all the tests. Now the term paper is his last shot.
- No, Nixon didn’t drunk-dial Frost in the middle of the night to commiserate over sharing Frost’s fate of always being on the outside: “That’s our tragedy, isn’t it, Mr. Frost, that they still look down on us.”—they being the insiders, the cliques, the sons of privilege whose recognition, Nixon presumes, neither of them ever won. It should be said, however, that this scene is Frank Langella’s finest in the movie.
- No, James Reston didn’t spend Easter weekend, just days before the Watergate interview, researching the last minute smoking gun of Nixon’s conversation with Charles Colson about the Watergate break-in. He did that work months earlier.
- No, the taping was not done in four sessions, and it was not done in the sequence described in the movie. The Watergate sequence alone took four sessions.
- No, Jack Brennan did not interrupt the taping when things went south for Nixon. He did attempt to communicate with Frost by holding up a sign, which Frost mistook for a request for a break.
- And emphatically no, Nixon did not utter his famous “When the president does it…” line in response to a question about Watergate. That came in another interview and referred to surveillance of political dissenters.