Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz Inform the Full Sordid Story of Spiro Agnew
The bag MAN
Wild Violence, Easy Hiding, and the Amazing Fall of the Brazen River at the White House
By Rachel Maddow and Michael Yarvitz
After Richard Nixon chose Spiro T. Agnew to succeed him, Alice Roosevelt Longworth said, “I promise, Dick, that if you are elected, you will always make Governor Agnew fly with you on your plane.” Such comments were echoed by Agnew’s wireless commentary: for example, the governor of Maryland, saying it would be “detrimental” to the firing of a few kidnappers and, as vice president, calling for a Japanese-American journalist “Oil Jap.”
There was, however, a minority of Agnew: They have been receiving funding from a contractor in Maryland since he served as Baltimore County executive; and sealed envelopes, covered with a “money ward,” still come even after they have been sworn in as vice president. His fall was the subject of a lively and educational program called “Bag Man,” by Rachel Maddow, MSNBC host, and Michael Yarvitz, a TV presenter and journalist. Now they have rescheduled their research to write a sound book of the same name.
For half a century, the whole subject of the case was “A Heartbeat Away,” by Richard M. Cohen and Jules Witcover of The Washington Post. Maddow and Yarvitz praised their work but realized they had a lot to say, as well as new things to say – especially the “hours and hours and hours” of White House tapes, secret documents, and audio recordings written by Nixon chief of staff, HR Haldeman. No legal evidence was found in 1973, when George Beall, a Maryland US lawyer, and three young lawyers filed a bribery lawsuit that made Agnew the second-in-command of a president who was forced to resign.
Realizing that Agnew was a target, Nixon and his new boss, Alexander Haig, discussed their plans to work with the Oval Office to thwart the investigation. Among those registered to support were the chairman of the Republican National Committee, as well as the future President, George Herbert Walker Bush, whose participation was revealed by the authors in a “written memo” found in Beall papers, at Frostburg State University. When the Marylanders brought their knowledge to Attorney General Elliot Richardson – their work, and admired Richardson’s admiration, is described in a strange way – there was no closing. In the summer of Watergate, when faced with the prospect of collapse at Nixon, Richardson made an immediate release of Agnew.
As real-life exhibitors, Maddow and Yarvitz step out from behind a 47-year-old curtain to inform former prosecutors of what they have learned. “Oh! Agnew said my name! Oh, happiness,” he says. “It makes my whole life worthwhile.” But even though the “Bag Man” book is a better description than the podcast, it doesn’t have the same music, as well as the interest in listening to White House tapes – rocks like Nixon talking to Agnew about Beall and asking: “Is he a good kid? Why did we give him a chance? ”
Agnew resigned in October 1973, 10 months after Nixon resigned, but his story did not end there. Delighted by “judgment / exit”, he wrote a lousy book and tried to make money. When Maddow and Yarvitz called it “probably Agnew’s second worst crime,” he asked the Saudi king to help him resist “Jewish attempts to destroy me,” by paying $ 2 million to a Swiss bank. In May 1995, he attended a ceremony at the Capitol, where his marble stones were added to the vice-presidential team. I can tell you, as a witness, that no one complained about insulting speech. Maddow and Yarvitz, do not hesitate. Reading “Bag Man” is a reminder of how the race had a chance to oust him.