Eleven days before the October march, Nixon attended the Miami Dolphins’ home game against the Oakland Raiders, which ended in a tie. The quantity and tone of the coverage quickly became a front in the administration’s war on the media. Nixon bristled that Newsweek had failed to report the ovation he’d received at the game. The alternative press was already lambasting the president. “Little Dick Nixon, always the smallest punk on the football team, has finally been sworn in as captain,” Stew Albert sneered in the Berkeley Barb. Influential mainstream voices, however, sympathized with what Nixon was doing. “Games fascinate and divert him from his problems,” the seasoned political journalist James Reston wrote approvingly in the New York Times. “So he watches the games, not only because it is good politics, but because it is an escape from his normal problems that have no rules and no end.”
Nixon nevertheless ordered White House Communications Director Herb Klein to generate letters of protest to Newsweek’s editor to demonstrate the public’s “deep enthusiasm” for the president’s efforts. Klein agreed, though he later admitted in his autobiography that the press the administration received that fall was actually “better than we expected.” Both the protests over insufficient adoration and the consequent fabrication of compensatory “popular” opinion are eerily familiar.