President Richard "Nixon was far worse than we thought,” investigative reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward argue in a new piece in The Washington Post, their most extensive collaboration in decades.
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in.
The pair, who first broke the Watergate scandal, look back on that date June 17, 1972 when "a team of burglars wearing business suits and rubber gloves was arrested at 2:30 a.m. at the headquarters of the Democratic Party in the Watergate office building in Washington."
At the time, Nixon press secretary Ronald Ziegler warned “certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it was” dismissing it as a “third-rate burglary.”
The incident and the two young journalists' subsequent reporting would eventually lead to Nixon's resignation two years later.
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In the Post, the reporters wrote "there is a misperception that the that the coverup was worse than the crime. This idea minimizes the scale and reach of Nixon’s criminal actions."
They argue that in the decades since their original reporting, hundreds of hours of Nixon’s secret tapes, Senate hearings, and the trials of some 40 Nixon aides provide a long record of documentation that "trace the president’s personal dominance over a massive campaign of political espionage, sabotage and other illegal activities against his real or perceived opponents."
On CBS' Face the Nation, Bernstein explained "the crimes... go back to the first days of the Nixon administration... Really, what we found is that his White House became, to a remarkable extent, a criminal enterprise such as we've never had in our history."