A Brief History Of Secret Recordings

Apr 14, 2013
Originally published on April 15, 2013 9:57 am

Secret recordings are becoming a tradition in American politics.

Like buttons, bunting and backslapping at barbecues, surreptitious audio and/or video surprises continue to pop up in political settings — with more and more frequency.

The latest is an unauthorized recording of a tough-talking strategy session held by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his 2014 re-election campaign staffers. A focal point of the covert recording — a copy of which was leaked to Mother Jones — was potential McConnell opponent Ashley Judd.

The McConnell camp says the eavesdroppers were engaged in "Watergate-era tactics" and the FBI is looking into the matter.

We here at NPR (no strangers to being secretly recorded) are also reminded of the clandestine tapings by President Nixon and a timeline of other undercover episodes. Here is a sampling.

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