Woodward and Bernstein ride again
In fact, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have been rolling for 50 years and have never backed down since their investigative reporting helped expose the Watergate scandal that led to the downfall of a president. This work encouraged many students to take up journalism in the 1970s and 1980s, elevating a profession that was not as popular before Watergate. Both writers continued journalism and authored several books, some on bestseller lists.
But today (Sunday June 5) they are co-authors of a forum in the Washington Post (See Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein Thought Richard Nixon Defined Corruption. Then came Donald Trump.), the journal that backed, supported, and published their findings on Watergate during the Nixon years. Here is the opening of this editorial:
President George Washington, in his famous farewell address of 1796, warned that American democracy was fragile. “Sly, ambitious and unscrupulous men will be able to subvert the power of the people and usurp the reins of government,” he warned.
Two of his successors – Richard Nixon and Donald Trump – demonstrate the shocking genius of our first president’s foresight.
As journalists, we have studied Nixon and written about him for nearly half a century, during which time we have believed with great conviction that never again will America have a president who would trample the interest national and would undermine democracy through the bold pursuit of personal and political autonomy. -interest.
And then came Trump.
The Watergate scandal defined much of my youth. (Tonight on CNN at 9 p.m., watch Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal.) Woodward and Bernstein have been defiant in pursuing the story, devoting all of their investigative skills and contacts to the fraud that led to the fall of Republican President Richard Nixon.
Today they are back with their warning about former Republican President Donald J. Trump. During a joint Sunday morning appearance on CNN, they discussed the Watergate and Jan. 6 comparisons.
Perhaps the biggest difference they pointed out between Watergate and January 6 was the brave Republicans during Nixon’s White House years who upheld the constitution and held their party accountable. The Republican leadership of Congress had gone to the White House and told Nixon that the charges against him were damning and that he would do it. not being acquitted by Congress in the event of a vote, which ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation.
The Jan. 6 scandal, however, shows a Republican leadership that went along with the violators, walking in step with Trump instead of holding him accountable, and they refused to participate in the Jan. 6 hearings.
The difference between the courage of the GOP leadership in 1974 and the shameless GOP leadership in 2022 is staggering. Today, their short-sighted driving force is re-election and holding the reins of power, including in my own very red region of West Virginia.
But it wasn’t always like this in West Virginia. During Watergate, Republican 6th District Congressman Caldwell Butler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, voted to impeach Nixon and reportedly wept afterwards.
Unfortunately, we do not have this pragmatic country above party leadership in the 6th these days. Indeed, our current congressman was one of 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the January 6, 2021 certification of the 2020 presidential election results…
… after the violent insurrection had taken place in the Capitol of the United States;
… after Violent Trump supporters had erected gallows on the Capitol lawn and chased Vice President Pence through the halls chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”
… after members of Congress – his colleagues – had scrambled for their safety by hiding in dark offices, closets and wherever they could find away from the crowds;
… after the crowd had burst into the Senate chamber.
The GOP leadership declined to participate in the January 6 investigations and hearings.
GOP leadership between the Watergate years and Jan. 6 showed a sea of difference in how scandals were handled…1972 versus 2022.
In the closing words of Woodward and Bernstein’s op-ed, “As Washington warned in his farewell address more than 225 years ago, unscrupulous rulers could create ‘permanent despotism’, ‘the ruins of public liberty” and “riots and insurrections.”
Cover photo: screenshot from CNN