Press turned from hiding info (JFK) to seeking scandal
Confidence & idealism of 60s replaced w/ cynicism and doubt
The Watergate scandal refers to a political scandal in the United States in the 1970s. Named for the Watergate apartment complex, effects of the scandal ultimately led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, President of the United States, on August 9, 1974. It also resulted in the indictment and conviction of several Nixon administration officials.
The scandal began with the arrest of five men for breaking and entering into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Office complex in Washington, D.C. on June 17, 1972. Investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and later by the Senate Watergate Committee, House Judiciary Committe and the press revealed that this burglary was one of many illegal activities authorized and carried out by Nixon's staff. They also revealed the immense scope of crimes and abuses, which included campaign fraud, political espionage and sabotage, illegal break-ins, improper tax audits, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, and a secret slush fund laundered in Mexico to pay those who conducted these operations. This secret fund was also used as hush money to buy the silence of the seven men who were indicted for the June 17 break-in.
Nixon and his staff conspired to cover up the break-in, and especially its connection with the White House, as early as six days after it occurred. After two years of mounting evidence against the President and his staff, which included former staff members testifying against them in a Senate investigation, it was revealed that Nixon had a tape recording system in his offices and that he had recorded many conversations. Recordings from these tapes revealed that he had obstructed justice and attempted to cover up the break-in. This recorded conversation later became known as the Smoking Gun. After a series of court battles, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in United States v. Nixon that the President had to hand over the tapes; he ultimately complied.
Facing certain impeachment in the House of Representatives and the strong possibility of a conviction in the Senate, Nixon resigned ten days later, becoming the only U.S. president to have resigned from office. His successor, Gerald Ford, would issue a controversial pardon for any federal crimes Nixon may have committed while in office.
Three most interesting things you learned about Watergate
Two reactions you have when learning about this event in American history
One way you can imagine how Watergate changed the way Americans felt about their government
Additional Questions for Discussion
Why do you think the American public was so outraged by Watergate?
Do you think President Nixon should have resigned? Explain.
Do you think President Nixon should have been prosecuted? Explain.