Twenty-four years ago, I spent most of the summer glued to the television. I wasn't watching cartoons or John Wayne matinees, I was watching the real-life drama being played out in hearings in Washington: the Watergate scandal. That summer was a coming-of-age for America, and so it is that this week many of us are looking back to the June 17 th burglary 25 years ago that was the beginning of the end of a presidency.
Produced by the Washington Post, home of the two reporters who broke the story, Watergate 25 is a first-rate overview and look back at the events following June 17, 1972. Visitors can begin by refreshing their memories about what transpired by following a timeline. The timeline takes you from Nixon's election in 1968 to his resignation in 1974. The chronology is not nearly as detailed as it should be, but it is linked to original stories that ran at the time in the Washington Post. Following the original reports is fascinating in itself as more and more becomes known about the scope of the conspiracy and Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover more evidence. In a sort of "where are they now?" chapter there are profiles of the main participants in the Watergate scandal and hearings, including some lesser figures like Pat Buchanan who worked in the White House and endorsed harassment tactics designed to embarrass the Democratic Party. And there are some interesting notes, such as the fact that John Dean is now suing co-conspirator G. Gordon Liddy (the more things change...). The source of information for much of Woodward and Bernstein's investigative work was the shadowy figure known only as Deep Throat. Today, we know Deep Throat is alive, but still anonymous. The Post profiles several possible Deep Throat candidates, ranging from members of the CIA to the White House administration and the FBI at the time. (Personally, I'd put my money on L. Patrick Gray, the acting director of the FBI in 1972.) In all, this is a solid historical account of Watergate from the paper that broke the story.
Created by Malcolm Farnsworth, the Watergate webstation is an excellent introduction for younger netizens who don't recall the dark days of 1972 to 1974. After some preliminary discussion of what Watergate was and what it now represents, the story is told here in a basic, chronological narrative. It is broken out according to important dates and matter of factly relates the historic events that led to the end of Nixon's presidency. Along the way there are hotlinks to supplementary material, such as Nixon's astounding denial speech of August15, 1973. Much of the story is also placed in context and connected to more recent political history. An example of this is the mention of Robert Bork, controversial Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court and the man who bowed to Nixon and fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the height of the Watergate scandal. Other links at the Watergate site fill out the story. You can hop over to a biography of the president, read Bob Dole's comments at Nixon's funeral, and even view a copy of Nixon's will. For students doing research on Watergate or for people who just want to reminisce, the Watergate site is not to be missed.
Illusion and Delusion: The Watergate Decade
For a photographic treatment of the drama of the Watergate debacle there's Illusion and Delusion: The Watergate Decade. A production of the online magazine JournalE, the black and white images presented here in slide-show style are the work of Mark Godfrey, who chronicled the White House and the hearings in the early ‘70s. It begins with an image of a business-as-usual bill signing in the Oval Office, and moves quickly to images of old guard John Mitchell and button-down John Dean at the Watergate hearings. Most of the pictures are accompanied by text enumerating significant events of the era, often unrelated to the Watergate story. Nevertheless, the citations serve as a reminder that political life went on in spite of the hearings. For example, in 1973 after the convictions of James W. McCord and G. Gordon Liddy, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of North Viet Nam were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Many of the photographs convey the emotions of the moment, including one telling opposition of two images on the same page, those of the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, Sam J. Ervin, Jr., and Watergate conspirator H.R. Haldeman. Poignant and at times riveting, Illusion and Delusion is a fascinating gallery of the Watergate era.
The Richard Nixon Audio Archive now defunct; try the American Presidency Project
The spirit of Nixon's presidency is perhaps best captured in his speeches and recorded words. At Webcorp.'s Richard Nixon Audio Archive you can sample some of the more choice moments in Nixon's political career. I suggest you start with the famous kitchen debate between Nixon and Khrushchev in an American kitchen exhibition in Moscow. One of the several clips of this incredible encounter includes Khrushchev insisting that Russian television technology is better than American TV. Leading the pages here though is the Nixon resignation speech. The entire audio recording is available for downloading, all 7.4 megabytes of it, or there are 40 selected smaller clips. It is an early attempt by Nixon to rehabilitate himself and a fascinating record worthy of deconstruction. In addition to these audio records, there are famous quotes from his "Checkers" speech and the "I am not a crook" defense. And recently added to the site are a couple of video clips worth downloading. For a full recounting of the Nixon and Watergate eras, the audio archive should not be skipped.