Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 3, 1975 · Page 162
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 162

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 3, 1975
Page 162
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Page 162 article text (OCR)

Gannon has been working as chief honcho on the Nixon literary project since February, 1975, "immersing myself in a tremendous amount of Nixon material, going all the way back to 1913 when he was bom." From August, 1974, to February, 1975, Gannon worked as a Nixon staff man on the Presidential transition from Washington to San Clemente. He now labors in an office on the old San Clemente Coast Guard grounds adjacent to Nixon's residence and in a guest cottage on the Nixon estate. "I use that as a library of sorts," Gannon explains, "and see Mr. Nixon in his office or his house--usually in the late afternoon--practically every day. Limited access "At the moment we don't have access to the Presidential papers--they're tied up by a panel of three judges--and my job involves a lot of reading and interviewing. , . . "What Dianne, Ron, and I have done is to produce research packets, manageable, I hope, on particular periods of Mr. Nixon's life. He has a fabulously retentive mind, and the purpose of these packets is to stimulate and jog his memory. He then goes over the packets and dictates into cassettes. "I'm not ghost-writing his autobiography," Gannon emphasizes. "Even my friends make that mistake. I am simply researching it For me, an historian, if s a labor of love. I believe only seven former Presidents of .the United States -have written their memoirs, and to take ' part in one of these projects is an historical opportunity. I've admired and supported President Nixon from my college days onward, and my admiration for him has grown. ."President Nixon will write a book that will 'grab' people, and I want to be a part of it." His friends wonder Gannon's friends, and he has many, are divided as to why Gannon is devoting the next two or three years of his : life to, the Nixon autobiography. Kay Halle, the Washington hostess and writer in whose house Gannon lived for .three years/says, "You must remember that Frank was a poor boy in New York, that he worked his way through school, that he's a young man of great energy and enthusiasm, and that being around Nixon, an ex-President, is pretty heady stuff for a young man of his' background. "I suspect," she offers, "that it compensates for what may have been the drabness of his early youth. I know he enjoys his work immensely. He has a great appetite for life. He's a musician, he's a theater buff, he reads omnivorously, he cultivates people of stature and talent He has every good reason for staying on with Nixon. I know he will do a fantastic job." Kevin Connell,who attended Georgetown with Gannon, describes him as "a politically conservative Renaissance man who loves music, clothes, girls, literature, especially history--he has one of the best collections of war posters you've ever seen--but. most important of all, I think, Frank, because of his Catholic background, has a great deal of faith in established authority, and perhaps thaf s why he preferred to con- tinue with Nixon." Gannon is a product of the New York parochial schools, St. Barnabas and Power Memorial Academy, from which he was graduated to Georgetown University, working his way through by playing piano in the 1789 Club and doing odd jobs in a local clothing store. A girl who claims great fondness for Gannon believes he.erred in signing on for the Nixon autobiography. "To begin with," she explains, "more biographies, more essays, more books have been written about Nixon before and after Dianne Sawyer with Ron Z/eg/er. She was graduated in 7967 from Wellesley where she wrote and starred in college theatricals. Later she worked as a television "weather girl" in Louisville, Ky., then went to Washington where she became an assistant to Ron Zieg/er, Nixon's press secretary. Zieg/er, a charter member of the so-ca//ed "rja/deman Gang," was appointed press secretary in 1969. Previously, he had worked for Haldeman in the Los Angeles office of the /. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Watergate than practically any other modem politician. Nixon is discredited. "What is Frank Gannon going to come up with?" she asks. "Some great new evidence which proves Nixon Innocent? It's going to be the same old rehash of Nixon and his family and his California background and his political career with maybe a fresh nuance or two thrown in. But ifs not going to ^change anything. And for Frank who's now in the full flush of his creative years --what's he going to get out of it? I think he's made a big fat mistake. Alternative explanations "Maybe," she goes on, "he can't pull , away from what he regards as the seat , of power? Maybe he had no other place to go? But he's a versatile, erudite, terribly well-educated individual. I'm sure he could teach at half a dozen universities,, go back to J. Walter Thompson [the world's largest advertising agency], do any number of things and probably earn much more than what Nixon is paying him. Maybe he's obsessively loyal? Maybe he wants the log of history to record him as the last man who left the Nixon ship. But as someone who has admired Frank, I think he should have left the White House when Nixon did, that he should have gone and done his own thing. Now he's still a Nixon appendage, the last of the Mohicans. Frank Gannon, in my book, is too good for that." :iB Although classified as a dedicated . Nixonian, young Gannon has a plethora of friends who are Democrats or Nixon- disillusioned Republicans. Gannon apparently gets on well with all of them. Gannon's father, a retired brick salesman, is a Republican but says, "My wife is not" Gannon describes his mother as a "liberal." Avoids a trap *" · ^ Unlike other Nixonians who equated dissent with disloyalty, Frank Gannon is much too intelligent and objective for that sort of emotional self-entrapment. He intends to excavate all the Nixon history he can. This in turn he will offer to the former President. How much Nixon chooses to use, hide, assuage, explain, expand, shade or make public is no decision this moustachioed, behind-the-scenes researcher can maJje. His job is'to burrow, dig, and unearth treasures that will tempt Nixon to recall. Whether Nixon will be candid and truthful, open and honest, is beyond Gannon's control. He is merely a hired hand. The Nixon autobiography will not carry Gannon's by-line or "as told to," nor will he share in the authorship. His job is to work in the dark so that Nixon can produce enough literary light for which the public will pay off- the publisher's $2 million advance. ^

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