50 Years Ago, a Story Surfaced About a Weird Hotel Break-In

Thus marked the start of the Watergate scandal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Read the Original Burglary Story That Led to Nixon's Demise
In this April 29, 1974, photo, President Richard Nixon points to the transcripts of the White House tapes after he announced during a nationally televised speech that he would turn over the transcripts to House impeachment investigators.   (AP Photo/File)

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the origins of the Watergate scandal that brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon, and the newspaper that did the heavy lifting has a fitting commemoration. The Washington Post has reprinted its very first story in the saga—an account of a break-in at the Watergate hotel that appeared in the newspaper on June 18, 1972. Trivia buffs, take note: This story (based on the burglary the day before) was written by police reporter Alfred E. Lewis. The first story on the matter by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein appeared on the 19th.

  • The start: The first paragraph, under the headline "5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats’ Office Here," reads as follows: "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." Read it in full. The Post has a wide range of other stories to mark the anniversary here.

  • The book: Publisher Simon & Schuster has put out a 50th anniversary edition of Woodward and Bernstein's book, All the President's Men, on which the movie is based. NPR takes a look, noting that the authors draw a parallel between Nixon and former President Trump in a new foreword.
  • A guide: For those who want to catch up without reading the book, CNN has a guide to current and older movies and TV series based on the political scandal. That includes a six-part series on the History Channel being re-run.
  • A quiz: The AP has a fill-in-the-blank quiz to test your knowledge. For example: "Six days after the burglary, the Republican president agreed with a plan to cover up White House involvement. Seven men pleaded guilty or were convicted of the burglary and one of them, (blank) made demands of the White House for hush money." Hint: His initials are EHH.
  • Comparisons: Woodward and Bernstein are not the only ones drawing a Nixon-Trump comparison. The AP takes a deeper look, seeing a "thirst for power" as a unifying theme of the two presidents. In a New York Times essay, journalist and historian Garrett M. Graff also sees a parallel unfolding in the Jan. 6 hearings.
  • Media today: In a piece on the anniversary at Politico Magazine, John F. Harris writes that journalism's top editors today are weaker than those 50 years ago.
(More Watergate stories.)

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