My friend Mark Rappaport, a filmmaker and writer now based in Paris, has responded to my long review of The Hoax in this week’s Reader with some demurrals about my assertion that “the movie’s most outrageous claim” is “that the [Clifford Irving] hoax somehow led to the Watergate break-in.” He also has a few demurrals about his demurrals, which I’ll cite first: “I’m not really sure I got all the facts right. There seem to be a lot of them crammed into a very small space.” But since Mark seems to know a lot more about the Watergate back story than I do, I’ll turn next to his first email:

“No, it is not an outrageous claim that Howard Hughes was at the center of the Watergate break-in.

“Howard Hughes had given, not lent, I don’t think, Nixon’s brother either $100,000 or $50,000 (both of which were considered a vast amount of money in the 50s and 60s). I don’t think it was ever returned. He also gave Nixon $50,000 which Nixon, almost as paranoid as Hughes, gave to Bebe Rebozo to hold in his safe. Nixon couldn’t return the money and was terrified that this information would come out.

“Also, Larry O’Brien was the head of the Democratic National Committee. Larry O’Brien had been Hughes’s publicist  and/or right hand man for years and knew where all the bodies were buried. Nixon, being even crazier than Hughes, just had to know what O’Brien had on him. I do believe that’s the correct Watergate story, although no one talks about it because the details are so complicated and insane.

“Knowing a little about all the nuts involved, I don’t think this is all that far-fetched.”