Anyone old enough to remember the summer of 1972 through the summer of 1974, the crisis in government created by the Watergate break-in is something impossible to forget. The story would be considered funny if it was fiction. It is frightening because it is true.
In the early morning if June 17, 1972, a security guard was walking the corridors when he noticed that the locks on some of the doors had been taped so the doors could close but not lock. The guard removed the tape and continued his rounds. The next time he walked by the offices, the tape was back on the doors. He called the Washington, DC police. The police found five men hiding in the offices of the Democratic National Committee. there was nothing of any importance or interest in DNC headquarters but men were arrested and they refused to speak to anyone.
When these nondescript men were brought before the judge it was obvious that the break-in was something more than the usual breaking and entering. The Washington Post was, at that time, one of the most influential newspapers in the United States but sometimes even the Post had to reach for enough stories to fill the paper. Ben Bradlee, the editor, had one such day so he sent a young reporter, Robert Woodward, to cover the arraignment of the burglars in case something interesting happened. Something interesting did happen. The burglars were represented by some of the most powerful and expensive lawyers in Washington. The men were not carrying any weapons when they were arrested, no one was hurt, and nothing was stolen. Two simple mistakes – duct tape on the locks and lawyers who were too expensive – began the process that ended with the resignation of the president.
Woodward and Bernstein were assigned to cover the story but were told not to spend too much time on it. It wasn’t long before their names were known around the world because the stories they wrote for the Post were re-printed in every major newspaper. Watergate defined the last quarter of the twentieth century.
No one at the Post understood that the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, the Attorney General of the United States, John Mitchell, and the directors of institutions created to protect the American government were working against the rules as set out in the Constitution.
The book became a movie. Robert Redford was cast as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein. The movie brings home the point that the United States government came very close to being destroyed by its leaders. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly spend their days working their listeners into a panic by repeating lies so loudly and so often that people believe they are true. Hannity and O’Reilly admit that there is no basis for most of what they present as news. Fox is not in the news business; it is in the entertainment business. Their influence is so great among the Republicans in Congress that they consistently prevent any bi-partisan cooperation with the Democrats. They are preventing Congress from doing what it is required to do by the Constitution. They are consistently annoying and childish as they try to destroy the functioning of government. They are not scary, they are silly. They should read ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN and learn how the Republicans work when they really want to be terrifying.