The bitter conflict between Timothy Naftali, federal director of the Nixon Library & Museum from 2007 to 2011, and the private Nixon Foundation lingers over the Yorba Linda institution, and resolving that friction is a key goal for the incoming director.
But little known is that it was a previous foundation leader who first suggested to the Federal Archives that they hire the now-controversial Naftali for the job. That leader, then-foundation Executive Director John H. Taylor, remains a staunch defender of the work Naftali did in his five years overseeing the library.
“He proved to be indispensable,” Taylor wrote me via email last week. “Tim showed that the library could welcome Nixon critics such as Bob Woodward and John Dean without the world coming to an end. He also took on the harrowing assignment of installing the comprehensive Watergate exhibit.”
If you haven’t followed the saga, here are the basics: The Nixon Foundation, made up of family and other loyalists, opened the museum in 1990, with exhibits that emphasized the 37th president’s accomplishments and downplayed misdeeds.
The foundation struck a deal to have the feds take over in 2007, which resulted in millions of pages of federal archives and thousands of hours of tape being transferred to the Yorba Linda campus. The foundation continues to operate at the library, however, bringing in speakers, holding events and raising money....