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John Dean Questions How Much Martha Mitchell Knew About Watergate, As Documentary About Her Goes For Oscar

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John Dean doesn’t recall the exact date more than 50 years ago when he first met Martha Mitchell, but he remembers his impressions. “The Attorney General [John Mitchell] used to have lunches every Wednesday for the senior staff, which I was a part of.

He’d have them in his large conference room at the Department of Justice. And often Martha would attend those,” recalls Dean, the former White House Counsel under President Nixon, and a key figure in the Watergate coverup. “She was always a bright light in any room she walked into.

She was vivacious, she was smart.” There was a time, even before she became a kind of Watergate whistleblower, when seemingly all of America knew Martha Mitchell.

The Arkansas charmer with the bulletproof beehive hairdo captivated the public with her remarkably outspoken manner. But that very quality, refusing to hold her tongue, would bring severe consequences, a story that unfolds in the Oscar-nominated documentary short The Martha Mitchell Effect. “We thought this is truly a hidden figure in history, and there’s never been a documentary about her,” says Anne Alvergue, who directed the Netflix film with Debra McClutchy. “We were, at the time, on the heels of Trump and two impeachments and the MeToo movement.

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