‘All in the Family’: Watergate Tapes Revealed Richard Nixon Vented Hate for Show

by John Jamison

TV shows can get a lot of hate. And “All in the Family” was no exception. But imagine hearing the President of the United States talk about how your favorite show was destroying the country.

That’s exactly what happened when audio from the Watergate Tapes revealed Nixon ranting about the dangers of “All in the Family.”

Norman Lear’s groundbreaking show debuted in 1971, and people didn’t know what to think of it at first. It caught on quickly, however, becoming popular after its first season.

“All in the Family” aimed to call out prejudice by using comedy to show how misguided our views can be. It tackled serious topics like racism, homosexuality, poverty, war, etc. CBS even ran a disclaimer before it aired the first show.

“The program you are about to see is ‘All in the Family.’ It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are,” the disclaimer read.

Evidently, then-President Richard Nixon missed that part.

Nixon Couldn’t Believe That “All in the Family” Would Glorify Homosexuality

Looking back at it from the 2020s, Nixon’s shock at “All in the Family” is almost comical.

“CBS came on with a movie. They had two magnificent handsome guys and a stupid old fellow in it. They were glorifying homosexuality!” Nixon said, per the transcript.

After a brief discussion about the show’s details (the President incorrectly thought the show was a movie), Nixon continued.

“…I do not think that you glorify, on public television, homosexuality! You ever see what happened, you know what happened to the Greeks? Homosexuality destroyed them. Aristotle was a homo, we all know that. So was Socrates,” Nixon said, per the transcript.

Of course, the President wasn’t alone in his thinking. Some who watched “All in the Family” found themselves on the side of Archie Bunker. Archie was bigoted and stuck in his ways. He was the character the show used from week to week to highlight various issues and prejudices.

In the episode that Nixon watched, Archie is surprised to learn that his good friend is gay. Archie doesn’t approve, and clearly, neither does Nixon.

President Nixon hated “All in the Family” because, in a way, it was making fun of him.