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In the American Democracy it is vital for our right to freedom of press to be put into full throttle. Without the press, the society would be clueless and blind of Washington's dealings and business. The press informs the public, for better or worse, about what really goes on in Washington. But during the Watergate Scandal, the press coverage of the scandal demonstrated some of the best and the worst aspects of the way the American press covers the presidency. Richard Nixon despised the press. From the days when he was Vice President and Governor, he had no trust for the press.
Even when he used the press for his advantage to expose, what he believed to be, Communist influences in America, he feared the press. Though Nixon had won the endorsement of many newspapers during the 1960 Presidential Campaign, Nixon still thought ill of the press and believed them to be unfair to him. Nixon became even more bitter in 1962 after he lost the election to be governor of California. Nixon bitterly claimed that they wouldn't have Richard Nixon to "kick around anymore." He had retired from politics but that was short lived as he became president in 1968, but even then, Nixon remained careful of the press, fearful that they would leak and expose secrets. He was so scared that he had tapped prominent Washington reporters and official's telephones that he feared would leak information. Within days after the Watergate break in, there were reason to believe that the burglars had connections with the White House highest powers.
Despite the sensational revelations, many of the press lost interest in the story very quickly. Most the press accepted the claim of the White House Press Secretary that the incident was "third-rate burglary." Though the Washington Post covered the story, the Post was not thrilled with the story at first. They assigned two relatively inexperienced reporters to cover the story, thinking not too much of it. Many journalists could not accept that such political corruption could happen in Washington, therefore giving the story low priority. Some believed that if the press covered the story, it would make Nixon's accusations true, that the press was truly after him. So most of the press waited for more proof to come in before they ran the story, but what is strange is that only the Post made a serious effort to find more proof.
Maybe it was one of the failures of the American Press: a lack of investigative zeal which seems to infect much of the news media. One result of this lack is a kind of excessive caution which leads the press to avoid controversial stories. Another is a failure of imagination, or lack of covering different kinds of stories, as opposed to the same type of story time after time. However, the Post was an exception. The reporters investigated for months, exposing the sad truth behind their President. But the Republican Party was not concerned and re-nominated Nixon for President which he would be destined to win against an unmatched opponent, Senator George McGovern.
While the popularity of the President was very high, the reporters continued the dirty investigation and found a connection between the White House's highest ranked officials and illegal slush funds. The Post is credited for their single handed journalistic effort and keeping Though The Post had demonstrated the power of the press, it revealed the disgrace that most of the press had made of themselves. The majority of the media's priorities had not been straight. They had forgotten that it is their duty to inform the public of Washington dealings and not hold back anything simply because it could be devastating to the ranked official's reputations. Journalism in American is imperative to have, but must be used correctly.
The Watergate Scandal left behind a backlash of distrust towards the press and the presidency. Washington had lost it's innocence. No longer would people put their full trust in what the government did behind the public's eyes. After Watergate, the press vowed to be more wary in the future. That legacy of Suspicion would hang over the presidents that followed Nixon Bibliography: none
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Research essay sample on Watergate Scandal Richard Nixon