Miller Center

Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

This Day In History: The Cancer Close to the Presidency

Portrait of White House Counsel John Dean

Portrait of John Dean, counsel to the President, May 7, 1973. Photo courtsey of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Forty years ago today, White House Counsel John Dean told President Richard Nixon, “We have a cancer within-close to the presidency, that's growing.”  During a taped conversation, Dean recapped the history of the bungled bugging and burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters and the subsequent cover-up for the President. Dean advised Nixon to remove the cancer by coming clean to the public on the Watergate scandals, otherwise his presidency would be in danger. Instead, Nixon continued the cover-up and doled out hush money in attempts at damage control, and Dean’s warning proved painfully correct.

Listen to the “Cancer Close to the Presidency” conversation in the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program archives here.