The White House as a Black Box

Riley writes an interesting article when he covers how we manage to get information about presidents and their tenure in office. It was interesting to learn how NIxon recorded all of his conversations and even his behavior during his time in power. These tapes offered so much information for historians, and the best part about these tapes were they were unaltered. However, for all their value in being a source of information, they were also the very reason why Nixon was forced to resign, they were indisputable evidence against him when he came under investigation for Watergate. Since then, presidents no longer record all their conversations the way Nixon did, thus changing the way we has researchers and historians are able to gather information while someone was president. Furthermore, former presidents like Bush changed and added more regulations on how and when we can access papers from former presidents. With this in mind, we have now had to rely on knowing that when we can finally access any papers released to the public on a president’s administration it could be seriously altered. Even though we have the media to thank for keeping us as informed as possible on what is happening in the White House, they are also at the mercy of restricted information. So now we have to rely on oral history. Oral history can offer a great deal of information, but like the presidential papers that are released starting with Reagan, we are well aware of the fact that things may be left out or perhaps forgotten. Despite this fact, it is some of the best means to analyze a presidential term.

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