September 30, 2022
Gaslit: Remembering G. Gordon Liddy, Proud Watergate Villain

The Watergate miniseries Gaslit premiered in April with a chilling visual—a mustachioed man (Shea Whigham) preaching about strength and will while letting the flesh of his hand burn over an open flame. It was an ominous introduction, not just to Nixon’s political scandal, but to the dangerous figure who masterminded it: G. Gordon Liddy.

Sunday’s penultimate episode, “Year of the Rat,” further illustrates this notorious real-life figure—the lawyer turned Nixon loyalist who chose prison over testifying about his activities to the White House. (“My father didn’t raise a snitch or a rat,” he told the L.A. Times.) Even after prison—52 months of a commuted term, including over 100 days of solitary confinement—Liddy expressed no remorse for his involvement. In fact, he said, “I would do a Watergate again—but with a much better crew.”

The episode dramatizes Liddy’s prison years, as described in his wild 1980 memoir, Will—the brutally violent fights, the legal advice he offered his inmates, and the maddening hours spent in isolation. But G. Gordon Liddy’s real story—which defies the limits of any ensemble miniseries—is even more unbelievable.

Before joining Nixon’s White House, Liddy worked as an FBI agent, and was internally infamous for two reasons: running a background check on his wife before marrying her and being caught by police during an undercover “bag job” in Kansas City, according to J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets. (He was released, rumor had it, after placing a call to a local police chief.)

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