Watergate And Aggressive Political Journalism Essay

1303 words - 5 pages

Sunday, May 28, 1972 marked the day in which two extraordinary political events happened. Richard Nixon was nearing the climax of the first-ever summit in Moscow between American and Soviet presidents. Five thousand miles away in Washington, the first of several illegal actions took place at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate hotel complex (Emery, 3). It was this moment that turned two obscure reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post, into Pulitzer Prize winning reporters and the heroes of every aspiring journalist for their expose of the Watergate Scandal. After Woodward and Bernstein exposed Richard Nixon’s actions in the Watergate Scandal, reporters became far more aggressive than they had been before in covering personal and political scandals affecting presidents and presidential candidates.
Before Woodward and Bernstein, news in the White house had been all published by “an elite bunch of middle-aged men” who gained their presence through political power. They only reported on what was happening at the White House, and only whatever the White house officials thought that the news should be. No one was breaking blockbusters. This elitist attitude was foreign to journalistic greenhorns Woodward and Bernstein. As such, “they just went after the story,” and didn’t care about potential retaliation against them due to the severity of the scandal. They didn’t care about the status-quo (Shepard, 45-46). Their undeniable lust for getting the ground-breaking story of Watergate began as a wild goose chase, hunting down extremely powerful people who didn’t exist to the public, but became the tearing down of the Berlin-type wall that the Nixon administration erected to cover-up the political disaster. This was, however, frowned upon many of the elite reporters who knew the un-written rules of not publishing political scandals. Because Woodward and Bernstein weren’t a part of the White House press, they weren’t afraid of angering the White House and losing access to sources.
At the Washington Post the men and women who hushed-up these kinds of stories were extremely concerned with going public about a national political scandal that accused Nixon being involved in Watergate. Publisher, Katharine Graham later said in an interview that “…it was one thing to report on the break-in, but quite another to incrementally report that the President of the United States might be involved” (Shepard, 50). Looking to boost the Post’s revenue, Harry Rosenfeld, the Post’s editor, urged the two reporters to follow the promising story and try to solve the mystery. The legacy that Woodward and Bernstein left in investigative journalism spurred post-Watergate reporters’ attempts to become the next Woodward and Bernstein and etch their places in American history.
There is no dispute that the Post led other media in the early coverage of Watergate. According to a quantitative analysis by University of Illinois...

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