Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Notes for June 17th, 2009


This Day In Writing History

On June 17th, 1972, five men were caught burglarizing the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. The Watergate is a complex of offices, hotel rooms, and apartments. The five burglars had been caught breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, which were located at the Watergate.

Ben Bradlee, Editor-In-Chief of the Washington Post newspaper, assigned two young investigative reporters to cover the seemingly innocuous story of the Watergate burglary. Their names were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and they soon realized that there was nothing innocuous about the burglary at Watergate. In fact, the same offices had been burglarized before.

Using their investigative skills, confidential sources, and a secret informant known only as Deep Throat, (In 2005, Deep Throat revealed himself to be W. Mark Felt, a White House insider and former associate director of the FBI.) Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate burglary story wide open. The five burglars were really White House operatives whose mission was to spy on President Richard Nixon's opposition in the upcoming election. They stole information and bugged the telephones.

Nixon denied involvement and won re-election in November, but Woodward and Bernstein continued their investigations and were able to prove that Nixon not only knew about the Watergate burglary, but was attempting to block the investigation. In 1974, in order to avoid impeachment, Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace. He was later pardoned by acting President Gerald Ford.

Woodward and Bernstein's work in exposing the Watergate conspiracy earned the Washington Post a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. They later wrote a famous book about it, All The President's Men, published in 1974. They had been toying with idea of writing a book, but didn't commit to it until actor Robert Redford contacted them with an offer to buy the movie rights to their story.

The acclaimed feature film adaptation of All The President's Men, which starred Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein, was released in 1976. That same year, Woodward and Bernstein published The Final Days, a sequel to their famous book that chronicled the last months of the Nixon presidency. In 1989, it was adapted as an acclaimed TV movie starring Lane Smith as Richard Nixon. It was nominated for five Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were real heroes, the kind of journalists that, sadly, no longer exist and are sorely needed.


Quote Of The Day

"The reality is that the media are probably the most powerful of all our institutions today and they, or rather we [journalists], too often are squandering our power and ignoring our obligations. The consequence of our abdication of responsibility is the ugly spectacle of idiot culture." - Carl Bernstein


Vanguard Video

Today's video features a recent, 25-minute interview with Carl Bernstein, who discusses not only his and Bob Woodward's investigation of the Watergate conspiracy, but also his book about Hillary Rodham Clinton and the 2008 election season. Enjoy!


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