During her time, Martha Mitchell was inescapable. The Arkansas-born wife of John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general, was an invaluable source for gossip columnists, a guest star on Laugh-In, and the cover star of a 1970 issue of Time devoted to the women of Washington, DC. But her true place in history is weightier than pop culture ubiquity. “If it hadn’t been for Martha,” Richard Nixon told David Frost in 1977, “there’d have been no Watergate.”
Mitchell’s predilection for critiquing the administration—which earned her the nickname “The Mouth of the South”—caused headaches, but it was her threat to tell reporters the truth about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that resulted in a beating, kidnapping, and smear campaign. Fifty years later, she’s finally getting her due with Starz’s Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts.
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