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Rose Mary Woods, Nixon Secretary, Dies, 87

The famous photograph of Rose Mary Woods demonstrating how she 'accidentally' erased 18 minutes from an Oval Office tape recordingRose Mary Woods, Nixon’s personal secretary during Watergate, has died, aged 87.

Woods was supposedly responsible for the famous missing 18 and a half minutes from a White House tape recording.

In 1973, Woods testified that she had apparently made a mistake while working with the tape of the June 20, 1972 conversation between Nixon and H.R. Haldeman. This was three days after the Watergate break-in. Woods claimed she pressed the “record” button when she meant to press the “stop” button.

Woods initially denied erasing the tape but then changed her story. Haldeman’s notes of the conversation indicated that the missing section contained instructions from Nixon about a public relations strategy to distract attention from Watergate.

Woods subsequently demonstrated how the 18-minute erasure might have occurred. The improbable contortions where she attempted to show how her foot remained on the tape recorder’s remote control whilst she leaned across to answer the telephone were widely mocked.

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