#TBT: Nixon's Watergate Scandal

An anonymous whistleblower. A president accused of undermining the democratic electoral process. That wasn't this week — it was in 1972 during the Watergate scandal.

Watergate added further disappointment to a national climate already tainted by the difficulties and losses of the previous decade.

From 1972 to 1974, the Watergate scandal became one of the most consequential moments in American political history. President Richard Nixon and his administration were accused of a break in, in an attempt to spy on his Democratic rival, George McGovern. Public opinion soon began to turn on the president. In 1974, the tapes from the Oval Office taken only days after the break-in only confirmed the involvement of the Nixon Administration. His abuse of presidential power had a long-lasting effect on American political life, creating an atmosphere of skepticism and distrust.

Journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were approached by a whistleblower — an anonymous informant high in Nixon’s bureaucracy. They deserve a great deal of the credit for uncovering the details of the Watergate scandal. Their reporting won them a Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for their best-selling book “All the President’s Men.” Much of their information came from an anonymous whistleblower they called Deep Throat, who in 2005 was revealed to be W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI. On August 5th, Nixon released the tapes, which provided undeniable evidence of his complicity in the Watergate crimes.

Facing impeachment, Nixon resigned after 2 years of investigation and left office the following day — but maintained his innocence, but while 48 of his officials were found guilty of involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover up, Nixon maintained his innocence until his death. Six weeks later, after Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as president, he pardoned Nixon for any crimes he had committed while in office. Some of Nixon’s aides were not as lucky: They were convicted of very severe offenses and sent to federal prison. While many Americans had been deeply demoralized by the outcome of the Vietnam War, and saddened by the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and other leaders.