How Did The Watergate Scandal Of 1972

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The Watergate Scandal of 1972 is considered to be particularly significant in the history of America; it encompassed an array of illegal activities including the bugging of offices, break-ins, cover-ups and a serious abuse of presidential power, all of which led to the first and last resignation of a U.S president. Although Watergate is typically remembered as a political scandal, it was also a defining event for the media, and more importantly in this case, the relationship between president Nixon and the media. It is important to recognise that the hostility between Nixon and 'the press' had existed for almost a decade before the emergence of the Watergate scandal in 1972, therefore this essay will focus on Watergate as the pinnacle of a …show more content…

In his early career, Nixon was portrayed fairly favourably; he had friends in the press and was sponsored by the powerful Los Angeles Times. However, cracks in his relationship with the press began to show as early as 1960 when Nixon felt the press had not taken to him as they had Kennedy, leading to a sense of betrayal which would linger throughout his presidency. Despite his suspicions, even at this time, figures show that fifty-four percent of newspaper management actually endorsed Nixon, in comparison to the fifteen percent that endorsed Kennedy, which suggests that Nixon's idea of the press 'turning against him' was an inaccurate misjudgement, and one that would be devastating in setting the scene for Watergate. Schudson adds that this growing hatred for the press continued through to 1962 where Nixon lost his campaign for the California governorship, during which he lashed out on the media and blamed them for his failure, although some historians doubt that he was treated badly and that this hostility was justified.1 Throughout his presidency, Nixon considered the press as the enemy and as a power that was both dangerous and calculated in their reporting. Nixon was consistently uncooperative with the media, banning them from the White House and tarnishing their reputation on several …show more content…

The myth of Watergate paints a picture of two young Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, almost single-handedly bringing down the president of the United States through their investigative reporting. This undoubtedly supports the argument that the press were not liable for the hostility, considering they played no role in uncovering the Watergate Scandal as the myth suggests, and actually initially dismissed the story when rumours started to emerge. It was in fact the collective efforts of prosecutors, federal judges, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the Justice Department and the FBI who were the real figures involved in bringing Nixon's presidency to an end, the press were simply doing their job and exercising their right to free press. The myth also suggests that the Post not only uncovered the story, despite the fact that details had come from investigators, but also uncovered additional details which deepened the scandal. If this were true, then the accusation that the press were responsible for tensions with Nixon would be fair, however, again this was fiction. In fact, the vast majority of the information used by reporters such as Woodward and Bernstein was accessed through leaks from federal investigations.10 Ultimately, coverage of Watergate was dependent on government officials who

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