Convicted Watergate-figure Chuck Colson died today. While an article on FoxNews.com rightly identified him as a "Watergate figure" who "turned to religion," a FoxNews.com's video page took a more euphemistic approach. There, Colson was described merely as a "prison fellowship founder."
It's true that Colson founded a prison fellowship but that's certainly not his main claim to fame. He'd hardly be remembered today were it not for his having been part of the Watergate scandal.
Colson further distinguished himself just a few years ago when he criticized Mark Felt for having leaked information as “Deep Throat”. Ben Bradlee had a great response to that one about Colson (and I believe either Erlichman or Haldeman) not having any moral standing to be talking about these things.
Colson should be remembered for the quote that used to hang on his office wall at the White House: “Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow.”
It’s nice that he tried to do some nice things later in his life but this does not undo the terrible things he did with Nixon – and his lack of humility and contriteness about his criminal acts puts his conversion and aspirations toward morality into serious question.
For those of you too young to know Colson also pleaded guilty to efforts to discredit Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg. It was Ellsberg who had leaked the secret Defense Department study of Vietnam that became known as the Pentagon Papers.
The efforts to discredit Ellsberg included use of Nixon’s plumbers, a covert group established to investigate White House leaks in 1971 to break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to look for information that could discredit Ellsberg’s anti-war efforts.