Old News: Watergate Scandal

Katie Cavender, co-news editor

The media is always buzzing with activity, trying to capture attention with urgent taglines and pushing to ensure that their content gets the most views. In the process of accomplishing this, however, the reporters of today sometimes end up with biased coverage. While the advertising and monetary aspect associated with viewership is so highly influential in media coverage today, journalists have played a role throughout history in keeping the public informed about corruption and injustice in the government.

On Feb. 7, 1973, the United States senate voted 77-0 in favor of establishing a committee to investigate the Nixon Watergate Scandal. Prior to this official investigation, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post reported on the initial Watergate break-in. Unlike the rest of the nationís media, Woodward and Bernstein spent the following months investigating the connections that the break-in had to officials in the FBI, and even the White House. Connections later drawn between then-President Richard Nixon and the perpetrators of the break-in led to Nixonís resignation in August 1974.

Woodward and Bernsteinís role in the resignation of president Nixon is often exaggerated in the public’s memory due to their book, All The President’s Men, and its later incarnation as a film. It was a collaboration of Congress, the FBI and other federal officials that actually discovered and investigated the scandal. However, Woodward and Bernstein’s initial coverage opened the door that led the public to have a quick and complete understanding of the events that unfolded surrounding Watergate.

As with the recent Paris attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis, professional news outlets today can be biased in their reporting, sometimes using racist language or unintentionally making untrue claims. In an effort to keep public interest, reporters value speed in their reporting instead of putting accuracy first. Woodward and Bernstein’s coverage of the Watergate scandal set a precedent for reporting that was both fast and accurate, a precedent that the media  today does not always follow.