The Watergate Scandal Essay

The Watergate Scandal Essay

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June 17, 1972 forever changed both journalism and politics. A simple botched break-in marked the downfall of President Richard Nixon, and the rise to glory of two obscure young Washington Post journalists: Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. While their investigative journalism revealed the truth, their questionable methods and ethics have led to these questions; Do the ends justify the means? Was their behavior ethical and legal?
The Watergate Scandal was a major political scandal during the Presidency of Nixon. Nixon, paranoid and afraid of losing his reelection, employed men to do an assortment of illegal activities intended to place the republicans ahead of the democrats in the election. The activities were not detected until a failed break in of the Watergate building. The corrupt actions were exposed and 43 people were eventually incarcerated, due to the dedication of Woodward and Bernstein in discovering the truth.
Before criticizing Woodward's and Bernstein's behavior, the hardships that interfered with the freedom of press at that time have to be considered. The First Amendment protections offered to journalists were not absolute. Editors and publishers could face legal issues if their articles are considered brutally slanderous towards individuals, blatantly disrespectful to community decency ideals, or distinctly dangerous to national security (Schmoop Editorial Team). The Watergate Scandal was one of the first examples of modern journalism where the government was not exempt from being exposed to the public eye.
Despite the difficulties of their time period, there are certain ethical journalism standards that should not have been breached. The Society of Professional Journalists lists four ethical values that...


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Glavinic, T. (2012). Watergate and the Washington Post: Questionable Tactics in Service to Democracy. Retrieved from Student Pulse: http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/618/watergate-and-tthe-washington-post-questionable-tactics
History.com Staff. (2009). Watergate Scandal. Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/watergate
Mancari, J. (2012, March 23). Woodward and Bernstein stress the constants of journalism. Retrieved from Long Island Report: http://longislandreport.org/multimedia/woodward-and-bernstein-stress-the-constants-of-journalism/13637
Schmoop Editorial Team. (n.d.). History of American Journalism. Retrieved from Schmoop: http://www.shmoop.com/history-american-journalism/summary.html
Society of Professional Journalists. (1996). SPJ Code of Ethics. Retrieved from Society of Professional Journalists: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

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