Right now many maistream media sources in the west are reporting on (and in some cases fomenting) concern and even outrage over Donald Trump’s overtures to Vladimir Putin. Trump’s public statements, such as those made at his recent press conference in Helsinki, are seen by many as overly conciliatory and overly friendly to the Russian leader, particularly in light of the consensus in the American intelligence community that Russia has interfered in American elections. There is a lot of opposition to the recent announcement that Trump has invited Putin to the US, which he says is part of his efforts to improve US–Russia relations.
Over four decades ago, another US president, Richard Nixon, also made some very public attempts at improving relations with Moscow. In 1972 he travelled to USSR for a summit with the Soviet leadership, and the following year he invited Leonid Brezhnev to Washington. Since these moves were made in a time when Soviet espionage and aggression were seen in America as ever-present threats, and the Cuban Missile Crisis was within recent memory, they were also met with significant criticism. According to the Nixon Foundation,
However, I wasn’t around back in 1973, so it’s difficult for me to compare the two situations. Just how severely was Nixon criticized at the time for his overtures to Brezhnev? Did it involve a daily parade of negative newspaper editorials and hostile talking heads on TV, the same as Trump is experiencing today? Or was the criticism more nuanced, or more confined to certain groups or media outlets? I am guessing that nobody accused Nixon of being “beholden” to Brezhnev, but did anyone back then throw around the “treason” word the way some are doing now? Maybe some Dopers who were around back then could offer their views on how the coverage and perceived public sentiment compares.