THE UPSHOT: He was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and bugging the Democratic National Committee headquarters, and spent four and a half years in prison. He also worked as an actor, appearing on shows such as “Miami Vice.” In his 1980 memoir, Will, he talks about conquering his fears by subjecting himself to gruesome experiments in which he eats rat meat and burns his own flesh.
As Colson told E. Howard Hunt in a recorded telephone conversation, he would write in his memoirs that Watergate was brilliantly conceived as an escapade that would divert the Democrats’ attention from the real issues, and therefore permit us to win a landslide that we probably wouldn’t have won otherwise.” THE UPSHOT: Colson pled guilty to obstructing justice in a Watergate -related case involving Daniel Ells berg, in which he ran a smear campaign seeking to discredit the government contractor who leaked the Pentagon Papers.
Years later, he said of his transformation, “I shudder to think of what I'd been if I had not gone to prison… Lying on the rotten floor of a cell, you know it's not prosperity or pleasure that's important, but the maturing of the soul.” HIS ROLE: A former military prosecutor, Peretti was an operative for the Committee to Re-elect the President, known as the architect behind Nixon’s campaign of political sabotage against Democratic opponents.
In one such smear campaign, he created an anonymous letter falsely claiming that former senator Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson had fathered an illegitimate child with a teenager. THE UPSHOT: After the Watergate investigation revealed the full extent of his activity, he pled guilty to charges of distributing illegal campaign literature, spending four months in prison.
POST-SCANDAL : After the scandal, Peretti moved back to California, his home state, and kept a low profile, practicing civil and business law from his Newport Beach office. HIS ROLE : Ehrlich man, Nixon’s advisor for domestic affairs, also served as head of the “Plumbers.” He attempted to cover up the botched Watergate break-in.
He later moved to Atlanta, where he worked as a business consultant to the hazardous-waste removal industry and, in 1996, exhibited a collection of pen-and-ink drawings from the Watergate years. HIS ROLE: Serving as White House counsel from 1970 to 1973, Dean helped cover up the Nixon administration’s involvement in the Watergate break-in and illegal intelligence-gathering.
Alderman was also implicated in the so-called “smoking gun” tape, in which Nixon talked about using the CIA to divert the FBI’s investigation of Watergate. POST-SCANDAL: After serving 18 months in prison, Alderman worked as a business consultant and focused on his real-estate interests and Florida-based Sizzler steakhouse franchises.
In a post- Watergate memoir titled The Ends of Power, published in 1978, Alderman wrote : “I believed in tough campaigning, too, but even from my hardliner standpoint, Nixon went too far at times. HIS ROLE: Once described as “the most powerful man in the Cabinet,” the notoriously gruff and fiercely loyal Mitchell was Nixon’s attorney general before he resigned in 1972 to become director of the Committee to Re-elect the President.
Jeb Stuart Mag ruder testifying at the Watergate hearings (left) and in 2003 at the PBS Televisions Critics Association press tour. POST-SCANDAL: After his release in 1976, Mag ruder left politics and earned a master’s degree in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, which led to leadership roles at churches in Ohio, then Kentucky.
For a time, he led an Ohio commission on ethics, though he reflected, “I’m aware that there might be some irony associated with that.” He died in 2014, in Danbury, Connecticut. “I was facing a true dilemma: I wanted very much to respect Nixon’s wishes and at the same time to be cooperative and forthright with the congressional investigators,” he later said.
POST-SCANDAL: In addition to his involvement in Watergate, Bork is also remembered for his failed Supreme Court nomination in 1987, when he was rejected by the U.S. Senate for his conservative policies. So significant was the failed nomination that, “my name became a verb,” (meaning to attack or defeat a candidate for public office) Bork told CNN years later.
In his 1996 book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Bork criticizes American society and modern liberalism in particular, writing that “decline runs across our entire culture'' and ''the rot is spreading.'' HIS ROLE: Known for decades only as “Deep Throat,” the mysterious government source who helped Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward untangle the Watergate conspiracy, Mark Felt revealed his identity in 2005.
THE UPSHOT: With the 1974 release of Woodward and Bernstein’s book about Watergate, All the President’s Men, followed by the movie by the same name, Felt became the most famous anonymous source in journalism. But he was unhappy with the nickname he earned in the Washington Post newsroom, a combination of “deep background” and the titled of a pornographic film released in 1972.
POST-SCANDAL: Though many guessed that Felt was a Deep Throat, he repeatedly denied the speculations, including in his 1979 memoir, The FBI Pyramid, in which he contrasted his time under J. Edgar Hoover, whom he revered, with his service under Nixon, whom he disliked. He revealed himself as the Watergate source in a 2005 Vanity Fair article which led to a memoir published a year later, titled A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington.
In the book, Felt writes, “People will debate for a long time whether I did the right thing by helping Woodward… The bottom line is that we did get the whole truth out, and isn't that what the FBI is supposed to do?” HIS ROLE : As chairman of the Senate Watergate committee that investigated the affair in televised hearings, ErvIn became a national hero for serving as a moral compass.
All his books, including the subsequent Humor of a Country Lawyer and Preserving the Constitution: The Autobiography of Sen. Sam ErvIn, were first drafted in pencil on yellow legal pads. THE UPSHOT: Though Baker’s initial goal was to prove the accusations against Nixon were unfounded, testimony he heard and evidence he reviewed during the hearings changed his views.
POST-SCANDAL: Baker, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, continued to serve in the U.S. Senate until 1985, when he retired to practice law. THEIR ROLE: Young reporters at The Washington Post, Woodward and Bernstein (or “Woodsman” as they were known in the newsroom) teamed up to cover the burglary at the Watergate complex, and the ensuing scandal.
Piecing together the story from dozens of sources, many of them anonymous, they leaned primarily on tips from a mysterious government operative nicknamed “Deep Throat,” who revealed himself in 2005 as FBI agent Mark Felt. THE UPSHOT: Woodward and Bernstein’s coverage of Watergate earned the Post a Pulitzer Prize, and cemented the reporters’ reputations.
A year earlier, Bradley had defied the Nixon administration in his decision to publish stories based on the Pentagon Papers, a series of top-secret files detailing the U.S. government’s activities in Vietnam. POST-SCANDAL: Bradley continued to lead the Post until his retirement in 1991, overseeing coverage that earned the paper a total of 17 Pulitzer Prizes over the course of his career.
The use of the suffix –gate following a relevant word to refer to scandals (such as Iran gate, or more recently, Bridge gate) has long been a media trope. Most people are already aware of the origin: Watergate, the shorthand used for the scandal in which the offices of the Democratic National Committee were burglarized, with an investigation later revealing that the burglary was covered up by high-level officials in the administration of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.
Flood, a long-serving U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, yielded Floodgate when accusations surfaced in 1978 that he used his office to direct money and contracts to favored people and corporations in exchange for kickbacks. In the 1980s, a scandal involving sexual misconduct and misappropriation of funds by the televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Baker led to New York Times columnist Russel Baker to coin the name Prelate, cleverly echoing the phrase pearly gates, envisioned as the place where one earns entrance to Heaven as described in Revelation 21:21.
And there are dozens of others, before and after and in between: Nipple gate (in which Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed during the Super Bowl halftime show); Skate gate (a judging scandal regarding the pairs’ figure skating event at the 2002 Winter Olympics); and Spy gate (another scandal involving the New England Patriots, accused of using video equipment to record the signals used by their opponents). This was no ordinary robbery: The prowlers were connected to President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign, and they had been caught wiretapping phones and stealing documents.
By 1972, when Republican President Richard M. Nixon was running for reelection, the United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and the country was deeply divided. Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein deserve a great deal of the credit for uncovering the details of the Watergate scandal.
Their reporting won them a Pulitzer Prize and was the basis for their best-selling book “All the President’s Men.” Much of their information came from an anonymous whistleblower they called Deep Throat, who in 2005 was revealed to be W. Mark Felt, a former associate director of the FBI. The wiretaps failed to work properly, however, so on June 17 a group of five burglars returned to the Watergate building.
As the prowlers were preparing to break into the office with a new microphone, a security guard noticed someone had taped over several of the building’s door locks. Then, Nixon and his aides hatched a plan to instruct the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to impede the FBI’s investigation of the crime.
When Cox refused to stop demanding the tapes, Nixon ordered that he be fired, leading several Justice Department officials to resign in protest. On March 1, a grand jury appointed by a new special prosecutor indicted seven of Nixon’s former aides on various charges related to the Watergate affair.
While the president dragged his feet, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution. Finally, on August 5, Nixon released the tapes, which provided undeniable evidence of his complicity in the Watergate crimes.
In the face of almost certain impeachment by Congress, Nixon resigned in disgrace on August 8, and left office the following day. His abuse of presidential power had a long-lasting effect on American political life, creating an atmosphere of cynicism and distrust.
While many Americans had been deeply dismayed by the outcome of the Vietnam War, and saddened by the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and other leaders, Watergate added further disappointment to a national climate already soured by the difficulties and losses of the previous decade.