The Richard Nixon Presidential Library released 500,000 documents today, and among them is an operatically abject and desperate letter of apology from a then-25-year-old young press aide named Diane Sawyer.
Background: Sawyer, who came from a prominent Republican Kentucky family, worked as a flack for Nixon. In 1971, when she learned of the imminent appointment of a family friend to a federal judgeship in Kentucky, she excitedly called the nominee's wife with the news. Mistake. The honor of informing the nominee, it turned out, belonged to Kentucky Sen. Marlow Cook (no relation). To smooth things over, Sawyer wrote him a letter of apology that will go down through the ages as perhaps the most overwrought, sniveling, histrionic mea culpa in history. It's a veritable tutorial in youthful groveling:
Dear Senator Cook:
The possibility of forgiveness despite the inexcusability of the circumstances has long been a keystone of human hope. Thus, regenerated relationships like the North and South, Washington and Peking, the Delta Queen and the Belle, give me the courage to write and ask your forgiveness for a suspension of judgment last week that resulted in an unforgivable discourtesy to you, and great concern and embarrassment to the White House.
The prose is a Dan Rather shade of purple. Read the whole thing below. And for more of our ongoing coverage of powerful television news personalities who served in the criminal conspiracy that was the Nixon White House, go here.