What happens to whistleblowers is often absurd, but rarely funny, win or lose. A Google search on “whistleblower jokes” turned up the one you see in the headline and a few New Yorker cartoons. So, there’s not much whistleblower humor out there. Last night, the television show “Drunk History” took a crack at it with a segment on whistleblowers.
If you are not familiar with the show, it features comedians who sit around, drink, giggle and recount episodes from history. Each segment includes the drunken narration over reenactments by well-known actors and comedians. Saturday Night Live-vet Vanessa Bayer lip-syncs would-be Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell. In a wink to DC, Tony Hall of Veep plays her husband John. The series manages to be annoying, informative and funny at the same time.
Who knew that Martha Mitchell, the wife of Richard Nixon’s attorney general, was drugged to keep her from blabbing to Helen Thomas of UPI about Watergate? No one knew about the Citizen’s Committee to Investigate the FBI until 2014. That’s when members of an anti-Vietnam War group revealed that, in 1971, they had used a crowbar to break into a local FBI office and steal evidence documenting FBI surveillance of lawful activists.
Here’s how New York magazine describes the Mitchell segment.
Martha Mitchell’s master-tier reputation for gossip became a liability once her husband was hired as the head of Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President and that whole Watergate thing went down. After being held hostage, sedated, and even allegedly beaten in Los Angeles for a week (by Steve King, who — fun fact — is now an ambassador appointed by Trump) so the truth wouldn’t leak, Mitchell has the unique honor of being the first Watergate whistle-blower. But, since she was a woman who was being discredited as an alcoholic by all the men around her at the time, no one paid attention to her story.
New York Times story on the Citizen’s Committee.