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Posted: January 23rd, 2024

Newspaper Coverage of the Watergate Scandal

Newspaper Coverage of the Watergate Scandal

The Watergate scandal was one of the most significant political events in American history, as it exposed the corruption and abuse of power of President Richard Nixon and his administration. The scandal began with a break-in at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 1972, by five men who were linked to Nixon’s reelection campaign. The burglars were caught by a security guard who noticed that some of the door locks had been taped over. The police arrived and arrested the intruders, who had wiretapped phones and stolen documents from the DNC office.

The break-in was initially dismissed as a minor incident by the Nixon administration and the media, but two young reporters from The Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, began to investigate the case and uncovered a web of lies, cover-ups, and illegal activities that involved the highest levels of the government. They relied on anonymous sources, especially a mysterious informant they called “Deep Throat”, who turned out to be W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI. Their stories revealed that Nixon and his aides had tried to obstruct the investigation of the break-in, paid hush money to the burglars, used federal agencies to harass their political enemies, and engaged in other crimes and abuses of power.

The Watergate scandal sparked a series of congressional hearings, lawsuits, and court rulings that exposed the extent of Nixon’s involvement and led to his impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee in July 1974. Nixon faced charges of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the investigations and withholding evidence, such as the secret tapes he had recorded in the Oval Office. The Supreme Court ordered him to release the tapes, which proved his complicity in the cover-up and revealed his use of profanity and derogatory remarks. With his political support collapsing and his conviction by the Senate imminent, Nixon resigned from office on August 9, 1974, becoming the first and only U.S. president to do so. His successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him a month later.

The Watergate scandal had a lasting impact on American politics, journalism, and culture. It eroded public trust in government and leaders, increased cynicism and skepticism among citizens and voters, and inspired reforms in campaign finance, ethics, and oversight. It also boosted the role and influence of investigative journalism and whistleblowers, as well as the demand for transparency and accountability from public officials. The scandal also spawned numerous books, films, documentaries, and podcasts that explored its causes, consequences, and lessons.

References:

– Watergate scandal – Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_scandal
– History.com Editors. (2023). The Watergate Scandal – Timeline, Summary & Deep Throat | HISTORY. Retrieved January 23, 2024, from https://www.history.com/topics/1970s/watergate
– Britannica Editors. (n.d.). Watergate scandal | Summary, History, Timeline, Deep Throat … Retrieved January 23, 2024 from https://www.britannica.com/event/Watergate-Scandal

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