November 11, 1973
“I made my mistakes, but in all my years of public life, I have never profited from public service. I've earned every cent. And in all of my years in public life I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got.” - Richard M Nixon
The name of the Watergate hotel and office complex mere blocks from the White House is synonymous with cover-ups.
Simply adding the “gate” suffix is enough to brand a scandal these days. But, back in 1972, after burglars connected to Richard Nixon's reelection campaign were caught stealing documents and planting bugs in the Democratic National Committee offices there, the degree of deception wasn’t so obvious.
For two years, in an effort to bury the crime, Nixon and his cohorts lied, obfuscated, abused the powers of his office, and attempted to smear Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Washington Post reporters unravelling the conspiracy.
Woodward and Bernstein were under incredible pressure from spokespeople from the highest office in the land, but continued to work away at the story, interviewing sources and corroborating leads with a source, known only as Deep Throat, who had access to FBI case files.
Their grace under pressure and determination despite the high-stakes and character attacks remains a textbook example of how a thick skin and good journalism leaves no one, event the president, immune from scrutiny.
Read more about Watergate
Woodward and Bernstein toppled Nixon's presidency through straight-ahead journalism and hard work. They built their case by interviewing everyone they could who was remotely related to the Nixon White House, the reelection campaign or official investigations.