In a statement Thursday, foundation Chairman Ronald H. Walker called the new exhibit "one interpretation of the events that led to President Nixon's resignation." He called Watergate "just one chapter in the enormously consequential life."
Nixon White House aide Bruce Herschensohn said Nixon's perspective should have remained, arguing that presidential libraries should be a shrine.
"I can only come to the conclusion it will probably be a hit piece," he said the night before the new display opened. "This is the Nixon library. This is his place. He's buried there ... and so is Mrs. Nixon."
At Bill Clinton's presidential library, which opened in Little Rock, Ark., in 2004, an alcove exhibit along a timeline of Clinton's career addresses his impeachment and acquittal over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
John Taylor, who worked for Nixon after he left the White House and helped design the original exhibit, said it was difficult for those who revere Nixon to deal with Watergate. He said the content in the new exhibit made him uncomfortable but with the passage of time, "you can hear the truth, you can accept the truth and you can learn from the truth."
"In the next 50 years America is going to answer the question, what is the sentence that goes with Mr. Nixon?" Taylor said. "Is it, he went to China, or that he quit? For that to be a fair dialogue, this day had to happen."
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