Almost four decades after the infamous Watergate break-in, the reporters who broke the story have concluded that then-president Richard Nixon was “far worse” than they thought.
Nixon resigned in August 1974 for his administration’s role in a June 17, 1972, burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in the US capital and the subsequent cover-up. He became the only American president ever to resign the office.
Many inaccurate ideas and myths related to Nixon’s role in the burglary and its cover-up have found long life over the years, reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward wrote in an op-ed piece for The Washington Post Saturday.
“Another … has since persisted, often unchallenged: the notion that the cover-up was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions,” the reporters stressed.
Because hundreds of hours of tapes secretly made by Nixon have been released over the years and because of the details which came out of the trials of several of his aides, far more is now known about Watergate and Nixon himself than ever before, the pair wrote.
They chose to define Watergate as an intersection of what they called Nixon’s five wars.
“In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself,” they wrote.
“All reflected a mindset and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency,” Woodward and Bernstein said in the opinion piece.
Though it was not publicly known at the time, Nixon was in many regards worse than they thought, the journalists pointed out.
“Long before the Watergate break-in, gumshoeing, burglary, wiretapping and political sabotage had become a way of life in the Nixon White House,” they stressed.
[File picture shows a visitor attending an exhibition on Watergate at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California. AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys]