Fifty years ago, when Gordon Liddy and James McCord Jr., assistants to President Nixon, were found guilty by a Washington court, a media tidal wave that went down in history as the “Watergate scandal” began.
The two men—one an FBI agent, the other a CIA agent—who illegally obtained information about a Democratic candidate’s campaign at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping.
After the scandal, American politics and the media were never the same again, claims John Dean, legal advisor to the Nixon administration at the time, and one of the crown witnesses at the trial.
In context, what happened dramatically and forever changed the media image of the President of the United States. Before Watergate, the bosses were beyond suspicion. After Watergate, presidents weren’t given a “clean slate” assumption. their innocence.”
The Washington Post wrote the story of the illegal wiretapping of Democratic presidential candidate John McGovern. The American and world publics were amazed that even the world’s largest democracy was not immune from illegal electoral behavior.
Details of the Watergate scandal were widely reported in the press, especially after Lady McCord Jr. was indicted. Today, the media’s role is different, says former investigative journalist Nick Davis.
“Words can be used as weapons to bring about change. But that has changed. Words don’t have the power they used to. I think that’s partly because there are so many of them. With the internet, it’s like walking into a crowded stadium and you’ll be speaking without a microphone.”
The Watergate scandal rocked public opinion, and eventually Richard Nixon resigned and left office on August 8, 1974, two years after he won the election against McGovern.
“I am resigning from the presidency, effective tomorrow noon. Vice President Ford will be sworn in at that hour and into this office.” Nixon greeted.
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