Richard Nixon's presidential library in Yorba Linda, California opened up a new permanent exhibit yesterday that provides a more balanced and accurate account of the Watergate scandal, scholars say.
The library, which Associated Press reports as being accused of committing its own Watergate cover-up for years, previously portrayed Nixon's downfall as a "coup" by his enemies, suggesting the press behaved unethically in pursuing the president.
But the National Archives took control of the library from a private organization of Nixon loyalists in 2007, and the property has since undergone a $500,000 renovation.
"The public deserves nonpartisan, objective presidential libraries," library director Tim Naftali tells AP. According to the news outlet, Naftali alluded the original display was "inaccurate and whitewashed."
The new exhibit features sections titled "Abuse of Power," "Dirty Tricks," and "The Cover-Up." Displays are complemented by text and taped interviews, including an exchange detailed by Nixon aide Alexander Haig, who died last year. On tape, Haig says the president once asked him if he would be willing to burn White House tapes. "I said no," Haig recalls.
USA Today writes the new exhibit includes lock-picking tools used to break into the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate building, a display showing where Nixon hid microphones in the Oval Office and other rooms, and more. "This is a fantastic achievement for the Nixon library and the National Archives," John Wiener, history professor at the University of California-Irvine who criticized the museum's earlier treatment of the topic, tells USA Today.