The Watergate scandal was one of the most impactful political scandals in American history. The dramatic event took place in 1972, only a couple of months before the Fall presidential elections.
Watergate is a complex of six buildings in Washington D.C. with a hotel, offices, wellness, and more. In the early 1970s, the Democratic party rented several offices in the building. On June 17th, 1972, police arrested five men in one of their offices.
Among many others, Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reported on the scandal the next day. The two continued to report on the scandal. They had an informant in the FBI who leaked information to them. In 2005, Mark Felt, deputy director of FBI in 1973, revealed himself as the informant.
Four of the arrested men were former members of the CIA. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia convicted the men in January 1973 from burglary and wiretapping.
The result of the Watergate scandal
When the scandal broke out, President Nixon of the Republican party refused to comment on third-party actions. However, by October 1972, the FBI confirmed that President Nixon’s reelection team had a connection with the scandal.
Despite his win in the elections, Nixon started to be nervous. FBI already proved that his former General Attorney gave orders to the burglars as one of them convicted. Besides, the Senate established a committee to investigate the affair. Televisions broadcasted the committee’s hearing live. Millions tuned in.
In March 1974, the grand jury in Washington convicted seven of Nixon’s close associates of attempts to cover up the scandal. More importantly, a White House employee confirmed the existence of listening devices in the building. Further, the Supreme court ordered Nixon to release the tapes.
Finally, on August 5th, 1974, a tape from June 23rd, 1972, confirmed Nixon’s direct involvement in the Watergate scandal. On August 9th, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned from office. The only president in US history to do so. In a way, the Watergate scandal further legitimized the control function of media in politics