There may have been a causal association between The Hoax and Watergate,
“By far the most radical element in Wheeler’s script are scenes suggesting a connection between the Hughes “autobiography”, Richard Nixon and Watergate. Irving’s published tell-all does not mention Watergate. But over the years there have been varrying accounts in books by John Dean, H.R. Haldeman and others, describing White House concerns about possible revelations of financial ties between Hughes and Nixon; in his memoirs, Haldeman goes on to suggest that the Watergate burglary was triggered by such concerns.”
In his 1985 biography, Citizen Hughes, Michael Drosnin wrote,
]"The account of the Hughes-Nixon dealings in Irving's book was quoted in an unpublished Senate Watergate Committee report. H.R. Haldeman started getting FBI reports on the Irving affair directly from J. Edgar Hoover, and in early 1972 the White House managed to obtain a copy of the still-secret manuscript from a source at McGraw-Hill ...
"Nixon read at least a summary of Irving's account. It came as quite a shock. The $400,000 figure [which Irving had only guessed at] was probably not far off the mark.
John Erlichman later suggested:
The secret figure was so close to fact, that the Hunt-Liddy team was sent to burglarize National Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate in order to discover what Irving might have told the Democrats about the Hughes-Nixon loans.
The Nixon Administration, prior to the 1972 election, could ill afford publication of an autobiography that revealed details of an alleged $405,000 bribe from Howard Hughes to Richard Nixon.The infamous 17-minute "gap" in the Nixon White House tapes may have dealt with that specific subject.