Nixon withdraws last U.S. ground troops from Vietnam — A5
VOL. I — NO. 1
The best places to buy platform shoes in Burlington — B8
U.S. swimmer wins 7 gold medals in Munich — D1
The Gatekeeper FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2011 | ELON, NC
1972: At a glance 17 killed in Olympics terrorist attack Eleven Israeli Olympians, five terrorists and one German policeman were murdered Sept. 5, 1972 in Munich after an Arab attack at the Olympic Village. Members of a Palestinian auxiliary unit, who called themselves Black September for confidentiality purposes, carried out the operation under the orders of Palestine leader Yasser Arafat. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir responded by implementing "Wrath of God," a covert counterterrorist campaign that ultimately found and assassinated 12 terrorists involved with the Munich attack and other crimes against Israel.
Hurricane Agnes rips through East Coast A Category 1 hurricane made landfall on the Florida Panhandle in June 1972, killing 122 people in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. The storm reached the United States after crossing over Mexico and the Caribbean, after dipping from a tropical storm to a depression, and back again. It remains the worst natural disaster in Pennsylvania's history, where $2 billion in damages were incurred.
J. Edgar Hoover dies 77 J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, died of a heart attack May 2, 1972. Hoover served as director since he helped found the Bureau in 1935. Controversial in his leadership style, Hoover was often accused of being secretive in his actions at the FBI. His extensive stay at the Bureau led to a development that limits FBI directors to one 10-year term. Hoover's fatal heart attack was attributed to cardiovascular disease.
Bobby Fischer becomes World Chess Champion American chess player Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in the World Chess Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. Fischer, who played chess since 13 years old, was an influential leader in the chess world. Among other modifications to the game, Fischer invented a time modification system that adds incremental time after each move. Fischer passed away in 2008.
The Gatekeeper Staff Kristen Case Nicole Esplin Kyra Gemberling Rebecca Iannucci Dallas Reynolds
The Watergate complex, a group of five buildings in Washington, D.C., served as the site of the largest political scandal of the 1970s.
Coverage of Watergate scandal influences citizens, future journalists
Professors, writers share their perspectives of government corruption Nicole Esplin Rebecca Iannucci
For those who have learned about the 1972 Watergate scandal through textbooks and classroom lectures, it appears to have been one of the hottest topics from that decade. As it turns out, Watergate started as little more than a blip on the radar. “It was uncertain if this was really a big RICHARD NIXON deal or not,” said Don Grady, professor of communications at Elon University. “In fact, when I first heard about somebody breaking into Watergate, I didn’t think it was such a big deal. It wasn’t until it became evident that this was linked all the way back to the White House that it became apparent.” The Watergate saga began June 18, 1972, when The Washington Post published the first story reporting on a burglary that took place in the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. The first sentence of the article read, “Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee
here.” The majority of the press ignored these burglaries, but Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their editor, Ben Bradlee, were ruthless in researching and reporting on the scandal. Pamela Heyl, a history teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C., was studying English and history at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill when the Watergate scandal was occurring. At first, the burglaries were given very little attention by the press, Heyl said. “The New York Times, and a lot of other publications, were burying the story in the back,” she said. “They kept saying this break-in at the Watergate office complex was just a ‘third-rate burglary.’ That’s what they kept calling it. [They] assumed it was some disenchanted Cuban nationals who didn’t want to see the Democrats challenge Nixon for the nomination. Most people didn’t try to connect the dots at all.” Two determined reporters While most publications were following Nixon’s lead and ignoring the burglary, Woodward and Bernstein worked hard to prove the dishonesty of the president. Anthony Hatcher, professor of communications at Elon University, attributed the resignation of
President Nixon to the work he did trying to cover up his wrongdoings. “That cover-up was methodically uncovered by two reporters. They were able to dig, and cover the story piece by piece,” Hatcher said. “They did this all in the face of a White House that was hostile, with possible FBI investigations, threats and reluctant witnesses. It is amazing they put this together.” Heyl agreed the Post reporters were the driving force behind uncovering Nixon’s mistakes. “If it hadn’t been for these two inexperienced reporters working for the Washington Post who just kept pounding away at this, and an editor who was willing to stand by them and allow them to continue to investigate, I don’t think any of this would have ever really come out,” Heyl said. Uncovering scandal Woodward and Bernstein worked diligently to find the truth about the burglaries in the Watergate Hotel, and whether they were connected to Nixon’s reelection committee. They were helped by an anonymous source, who gave them hints on leads to follow and confirmed or denied information they found. “Woodward, who had only worked at the paper about nine months, had this inside source. This is what drove him, because the other papers didn’t have this source,
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2
Coverage of Watergate, cont. called ‘Deep Throat,’” Heyl said. “Deep Throat” turned out to be Mark Felt, an undercover FBI agent, whose identity was not revealed until May 2005. “As it turns out, the committee to reelect [Nixon] was deeply involved with all of this,” Heyl said. “They finally uncovered all this other information about money laundering and illegal contributions.” Grady also emphasized how much Woodward and Bernstein contributed to the coverage. Without them, he said, other media outlets may never have picked up on this story’s importance. “Bernstein and Woodward were the ones who were chasing after that story more than anybody else early on,” Grady said. “It was only later that the other media sort of jumped on board. The other media were still sort of bogged down with Vietnam and other stories that were going on.” Public reaction As more articles were published in the Post, public attention toward the situation grew, and other media outlets started covering the story. “Everyone was around the television watching the Senate Watergate Committee,” Heyl said. “People wondered, ‘What’s going to be said next? Who’s going to reveal something next?’” The case was broadcast on the Big Three networks – CBS, NBC and ABC – in 1973. “There was a lot of coverage. It was every day, but it was not too much,” Hatcher said. “People were informed about the dirty deeds of their government.” But for some, not even the relentless coverage of the Watergate scandal was enough to make it an important part of their lives. According to Grady, one particular demographic was barely concerned with the government affairs in the news. “College students, at that stage, were probably still more concerned about Vietnam because a lot of students were eligible to be drafted out of college, and therefore, it was a real concern,” Grady said. “From the political standpoint, Watergate wasn’t nearly as important as the fear of being drafted and sent to Vietnam.” Regardless of the level of personal investment, though, Grady admitted it was almost impossible not to hear about the Watergate scandal.
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward became forever identified as the reporters who broke one of the biggest stories in American politics.
“It took over television for a time, and it also took over the press in terms of coverage of it for a time,” Grady said. “It wasn’t the kind of thing that I sat and watched for any length of time, but I was aware that it was going on.” Tension between government
Before President Kennedy was killed in 1963, the press had a good relationship with the president. Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy were all respected by the press, according to Hatcher. “The editor of The Washington Post during Watergate, Ben Bradlee, was close friends with John Kennedy. You had this cozy relationship between the press and the president,” Hatcher said. “Then it started to go downhill after Lyndon Johnson. When Nixon was shown to be a crook, I think more than ever you had an adversarial press.” But according to Grady, the coverage of the Watergate scandal shined a necessary light on government corruption. “It sort of diminishes your view of the kind of people we’re electing to public office,” Grady said. “That has continued to suffer, I think, over the years since
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Watergate.” After Watergate
In the aftermath of Watergate, more media outlets were formed with reporters and commentators focusing their shows on political figures and events. Hatcher said he worries the current generation doesn’t know the difference between commentators and journalists. “Bill O’Reilly is not a journalist. I’ve heard Oprah Winfrey referred to as a journalist. Jon Stewart would tell you ‘I am not a journalist. I am a comedian,’” Hatcher said. “There is so much ‘noise’ that with the Internet and cable and tweets and Facebook, sometimes we
are not discerning, and we don’t highlight what really is news versus what is entertainment.” Grady said he agrees the extensive news coverage of political scandals can sway public opinion, especially in the days of Watergate. “It may have inf luenced my opinion of government, and the way that I think about how honorable our political leaders really are, and what they’re willing to do simply to achieve shortterm goals,” Grady said. “I remember [Nixon’s resignation] was such a major event that I went out and bought several newspapers, just so I would have the historical record of it. It isn’t every day that a president resigns.”
2, 2011 | ELON, NC
Media directly impact public through eyes, ears of young men The views of everyday citizens were heavily impacted by the Watergate scandal, as well as media coverage of the event. John Reynolds, a recent college graduate at the time, and Barry Gemberling, an undergraduate student, credited the Watergate affair for giving them distrust in politics.
College graduate says Watergate revealed College undergraduate government officials at their worst says scandal led to Reynolds says he dislikes many disinterest, distrust politicians, “whether Democrat John Reynolds, five year s out of or Re publican, many are career of media, politics Dallas Reynolds
college at the time of the Waterg ate scandal, po rtrays the view of an average young American male during this time. Possessing a rebellious nature, common for 1970s youth, Reynolds mentions his displeased attitude and neg ative outlook of the gover nment during the time, often “voting for the opposing party to kee p things f resh and new.” Reynolds says he got much of his infor mation from broadcast media. “I’m not that old, we had TVs, and that’s where we got most of our news,” Reynolds says. Wat e rg at e was an excellent e x a m p l e of why he disliked the cor rupti on in government so much at that time. When asked about Richard Nixon,
politicians, making decisions based solely in their interest and not that of the people.” According to Reynolds, Nixon was described as “re presenting all the wor st things in American politics,” being a “despicable, re pulsive skunk and schemer,” and becoming “well deserving of the name ‘Tricky Dick,’ and the consequences he got.” R e y n o l d s says politics have gotten out of hand in America and generally r e p r e s e n t motives for per sonal g ains and benefits. He expresses reg ret of his lack of interest and involvement in gover nment during his youth, now believing that it is important for ever y individual to get involved because it’s “our countr y and we must deter mine the future.
Barry Gemberling, a student at Penn State University in 1972, was indifferent to politics at the time of the Watergate scandal, but the event contributed to a further lack of interest in politics and media due to mistrust. Gemberling lived in a fraternity house at the time, and though they had a television, he said he rarely watched the news and most likely read about Watergate in the university’s student newspaper the Daily Collegian. “Even though I mainly read the Sports section, I skimmed through current events,” Gemberling said. “Many of us would read the Daily Collegian during class to avoid having to listen to professors.” While he said he was indifferent to politics at the time, Gemberling said the event didn’t really change his perspective, but caused him to be even more indifferent and less opinionated because he didn’t trust what he was hearing and seeing. “I didn’t trust it because it was a big mess and people were trying to influence you with their perspectives,” he said. “It depends on who is doing the reporting and what they believe in because they often try to orient you to believe what they want instead of being objective.” His view of the media, he said, hasn’t changed, as well as his overall disinterested view of politicians. “Republicans were trying to cover (the
scandal) up to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, and Democrats were trying to illuminate it to sensationalize it and make Republicans look bad,” Gemberling said. “It was a battle of politics, and I was left in between not wanting to pay attention to either side and not really caring.” In regards to the public’s view of President Nixon himself, Gemberling felt he didn’t do anything worse than any other presidents, but he was under more scrutiny because people were continuously trying to get more information about him. “There were probably other presidents and politicians that had done just as much as him, and they got away with it,” he said. “Their actions weren’t scrutinized like his were. I always felt that history would be kinder to him, which is how it’s turned out. People have felt better about Nixon and focused more on the positives of what he did for our country rather than the negatives.” Gemberling felt that the scandal itself wasn’t as highly publicized as big news typically is today, and that people didn’t really understand what happened with Watergate until years later. “I probably found out more about the controversy years later than at the time,” he said. “I wouldn’t necessarily blame the media for that, it’s just that it wasn’t priority to me at the time. It was politics, and I didn’t feel strongly one way or the other. I was kind of in the middle.”
Government controversy causes rise in journalism careers
Nicole Esplin Rebecca Iannucci
The persistence of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein during the Watergate scandal paved the way for a generation of men and women who were inspired to become journalists. Anthony Hatcher, professor of communications at Elon University and former editor at The Clemmons Courier, was one of many who said he was captivated by the work of Woodward and Bernstein during his teenage years. “I was about 15, and I was kind of naive about [the Watergate scandal] at f irst,”
Hatcher said. But Hatcher soon became interested in the event after he wrote a daily journal about the scandal for his English class in 1972. “I wrote something about how I support Nixon and [my teacher] wrote back. She said, ‘I am not for Nixon.’ This was the f irst time I had ever seen a response like this from a teacher. That got me thinking, ‘I should look into this and really understand it better,’” Hatcher said. Hatcher realized Nixon was in the wrong, and “really started paying attention to the news.” The scandal even had an
impact on people younger than Hatcher, who were barely out of elementary school at the time. Lisa Iannucci, a freelance journalist for New York’s Hudson Valley, was only seven years old when Watergate coverage dominated the news. But she said the journalistic efforts of the time had an impact on the way she conducts herself in her present-day profession. “I never really wanted to go into political journalism or hard-hitting news like those reporters did, but I loved the digging of the facts and how they went about getting their information,” Iannucci said. “Back then, this was what I call
real journalism. Things have changed so much since then.” According to Iannucci, the speed and accessibility of today’s social media have changed journalism, and not necessarily for the better. “With Twitter and other social media allowing people to publish things as they happen and the fact that people are selling their stories left and right, it's rare to f ind a true journalism story like this one,” she said. “So I've come to really appreciate how hard it was to get their story and how they did it. It did recommit my belief in what I do and why I wanted to do it.” Not everyone had such
positive feelings toward the media coverage of the scandal. In fact, many were disgruntled by the constant television reports regarding Nixon and the government, Hatcher said. “There were people who were angry that their soap operas and game shows weren’t on, but this was democracy in action,” he said. But for those passionate enough, Woodward and Bernstein were journalistic trailblazers. “These guys were like heroes to me,” Hatcher said. “I was part of that generation that had thought about journalism but really wanted to be reporters after this happened.”
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2011 | ELON, NC
Professor attributes rise in interest in news reporting to Watergate Compiled by Dallas Reynolds
Michael Skube is an associate professor of communications at Elon University. He has worked as a journalist since 1975, writing for publications like the Raleigh News & Observer and the Atlanta JournalConstitution. In 1989 he won the Pulitzer Prize for MICHAEL SKUBE Criticism. Here, Skube discusses the Watergate scandal from his own perspective.
How old were you at the time of the Watergate scandal? [I was] in my late twenties, early thirties. How were you informed of the scandal? Newspapers [like] the New York Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald. Network news, public radio. What were you doing at the time of the Watergate scandal? Employed by U.S. Customs, living in Miami, Fla. Did you vote for Nixon? No.
Would you consider Watergate top news at the time? Did it dominate the news? Yes, along with Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, the winding down of the Vietnam War and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Is there an event that has occurred recently that you would consider similar to the Watergate scandal? Nothing like it. Did you notice a change in the people in your community after the Watergate scandal? It was the topic of discussion among many people at work, but
I am unable to generalize about the “people in [my] community.” Miami is a big place. How was the United States as a whole af fected after the Watergate scandal? Generally, [there was] a disillusionment with government, of f icial explanations and a diminution of trust in government. More specif ically, it excited a generation of young people – myself included – to want to become reporters like Woodward and Bernstein. A nd a few of us actually did. It was the best time in my life. I loved ever y minute of it.
Watergate portrayed through film: All the President's Men (1976) The Academy Award-winning political thriller based on the 1974 nonfiction novel of the same name chronicled the story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigated the scandal for the Washington Post. Character: Bob Woodward Portrayed by: Robert Redford Also seen in: A River Runs Through It, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Lions for Lambs, Out of Africa Character: Carl Bernstein Portrayed by: Dustin Hoffman Also seen in: Tootsie, Rain Man, The Graduate, Meet the Fockers Character: Ben Bradlee Portrayed by: Jason Robards Also seen in: Magnolia, Crimson Tide, The Good Mother, Philadelphia
Unlike the book, the film covers the first seven months of the Watergate scandal, from the time of the break-in to Nixon's second inauguration Jan. 20, 1973.