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Essay on Watergate and Aggressive Political Journalism

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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-u...


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...tical affairs. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy was one such example where the press ruined his presidential bid. This incident, entitled “Chappaquiddick” was due to an affair between Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne. Kopechne was found upside down in a vehicle that was driven off the roadway into a tide channel on Chappaquiddick Island. Her driver was Kennedy. After the discovery, Kennedy gave a statement to police saying that during the previous night Kopechne was his passenger when he took a wrong turn and accidentally drove his car off a bridge into the water. After pleading guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury, Kennedy received a suspended sentence for two months in jail. The incident became a national scandal, and may have influenced Kennedy's decision not to campaign for President of the United States in 1972 and 1976 (Cannon).



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