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Liberal Democracy

Liberal Democracy
The Free State

Thursday, January 7, 2016

CKDTA: PBS"s Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings

This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat: CKDTA: PBS"s Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings

I believe the Senate Watergate hearings which brought Congress into this investigation starting in the Senate, was critical in this investigation. White House Chief Counsel John Dean, who was running the Watergate coverup for President Nixon, becomes famous in these hearings. We find out about White House taping system, which is what brought down President Nixon. Because everything he said and did about the Watergate coverup at least in the White House was on tape. The smoking gun where President Nixon tells his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman to instruct the FBI to drop their investigation was on the tapes. So the Senate Watergate hearings were critical in this investigation.

PBS, which was less than ten years old at this point, was critical in these hearings as well. And this was really the start of PBS becoming a major player in the broadcast news business and with them starting their PBS News division. With their nightly newscast, The NewsHour, their newsmagazine show Frontline, their weekly political talk show Washington Week and all of their documentaries. They were the C-SPAN of the 1970s at least during these Congressional hearings in the Senate. They broadcasted these hearings gavel to gavel live and then replaying these hearings in prime time later that night. Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, became media stars during these hearings. And other news divisions, CBS News, NBC News and ABC News, covered these hearings as well.

I believe that a lot of the people who worked for President Nixon were by in large good productive people. Bud Krogh and John Dean, are good examples of that, but they believed in Richard Nixon so much that they would do anything for him and were simply too loyal to this man. And got in over their heads and ending up doing things that they probably wouldn't have done had they not have met Richard Nixon, or some with those personality traits. And I think you see a lot of that with these people who essentially ended up testifying against their former boss. Of course they did that as part for their plea agreements, but these weren't career criminals, but people who did bad and illegal things while working for Richard Nixon.