The Martha Mitchell Effect review – another dark story in America’s history

By Romey Norton
Published: June 17, 2022
Netflix documentary The Martha Mitchell Effect


The true story surrounding the tragedy and triumph of Martha Mitchell. 

Netflix documentary The Martha Mitchell Effect was released on the streaming service on June 17, 2022. 

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. This scandal eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, which is why it’s a perfect time for Netflix to release the documentary film The Martha Mitchell Effect. This documentary surrounds one of Watergate’s most colorful and influential characters. 

On June 17, 1972, President Richard Nixon and his coterie were caught for their involvement in the illegal surveillance of political rivals and the cover-up. Whistleblower Martha Mitchell was a key component of what happened, and until now, we’ve not heard much about her. Unfortunately, many people, especially women, are overlooked in history, so it is exciting to see new stories about brave and outspoken women. With a running time of roughly 40 minutes, this story is full of drama, politics, and intrigue. 

Martha was the wife of John Mitchell, the US Attorney General in the Nixon administration, who led Nixon’s presidential campaign. Martha was known for being the one to spill the tea and share the hot gossip amongst her friends in the media. Glamorous and gorgeous, a lot happened behind closed doors, and this documentary opens those for us all to see. In a white man’s world, Martha was not the person who was going to sit in the background like a reserved housewife. She was outspoken and forthright. 

When Watergate happened, John had left Martha in California while all this was happening, which fuelled and enraged her. When trying to get information and speak out, Martha was imprisoned in her hotel room in California, drugged and beaten by her husband’s henchman. A doctor even tranquilized her to “calm her down.” This came with mixed feelings, people didn’t believe her, and her story was made into a comedic skepticism rather than taken seriously.

With the use of actual footage, audio clips, and interviews, this documentary film is very well put together—footage from parties, the white house, protests, and the news at the time. I learned about something in America’s history I didn’t know before. I admire Mitchell’s determination, and my favorite quote from her is “Teaching politicians to be straight and not crooked” – we can certainly try, Martha. 

This story had such an impact that later, psychologist Brendan Maher named the Martha Mitchell Effect after her; this is a situation in which medical or mental health professionals disbelieve and label a patient’s statement of the truth as delusional. 

Martha’s story is one that you should learn about. I highly recommend watching it if you are interested in politics, drama, or scandals. If you enjoy this documentary/story, the latest web series, Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts as Martha Mitchell, showcases Martha Mitchell’s story. Now, instead of being labeled crazy and intrusive, Mitchell is recognized as a courageous patriot.

What did you think of the Netflix documentary film The Martha Mitchell Effect? Comment below.

You can watch this documentary with a subscription to Netflix. 

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