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A Brief History Of Secret Recordings

Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the latest victim in what has become a tradition in American politics.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the latest victim in what has become a tradition in American politics.

Secret recordings are becoming a tradition in American politics.

Like buttons, bunting and backslapping at barbecues, surreptitious audio and/or video surprises continue to pop up in political settings — with more and more frequency.

The latest is an unauthorized recording of a tough-talking strategy session held by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his 2014 re-election campaign staffers. A focal point of the covert recording — a copy of which was leaked to Mother Jones — was potential McConnell opponent Ashley Judd.

The McConnell camp says the eavesdroppers were engaged in "Watergate-era tactics" and the FBI is looking into the matter.

We here at NPR (no strangers to being secretly recorded) are also reminded of the clandestine tapings by President Nixon and a timeline of other undercover episodes. Here is a sampling.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linton Weeks joined NPR in the summer of 2008, as its national correspondent for Digital News. He immediately hit the campaign trail, covering the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; fact-checking the debates; and exploring the candidates, the issues and the electorate.
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