ANAHEIM, CALIF., JULY 18 -- Former president Richard M. Nixon has banned reporters from the ceremony opening his presidential library and museum, White House officials said here today, setting off another controversy on the eve of the event.
According to White House deputy press secretary Steven Hart, Nixon aides told the Bush White House over the weekend that television cameras and still photographers were welcome to record the event but that correspondents for television and radio and print reporters would not be allowed. "He did not want to be interrupted by questions while he was giving his tour," a White House aide said of the order.
The television networks have informed the White House that they will boycott the event, Hart said. The association representing White House reporters has complained.
The latest controversy comes on the heels of statements by library officials earlier this month that journalists deemed unfriendly to the former president, such as The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, whose reports, with Carl Bernstein, of the Watergate scandal led to Nixon's resignation, would not be given access to the $21 million library complex that was built and will be run entirely on private donations. When that controversy erupted, officials immediately said it was a misunderstanding.
The library dedication, which will bring together three former Republican presidents, Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan, and the Republican incumbent, will include remarks by President Bush and by Nixon and a tour of the museum chronicling Nixon's life and career. A tour of Nixon's boyhood home next door is also part of the events. The actual library will not open until next year, and Nixon is still resisting the public release of millions of his documents now in the custody of the National Archives.