Lesson 4: Investigative journalism is essential
A positive change to come out of Watergate was a new ethic of journalism.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, two reporters for The Washington Post, were a driving force behind the investigation as they discovered how the burglars in the Watergate had links to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Other journalists, such as CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, played a huge role in connecting the dots of this story.
Woodward and Bernstein became models for younger journalists, encouraging them to conduct fearless investigations into power. Investigative journalism moved to the forefront of the profession, with younger reporters determined to find the next Watergate.
Yet today that kind of journalism is under attack. As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in The Washington Post, there has been a dangerous trend since 9/11.
First, many in the news industry failed to ask tough questions during the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003.
In recent years, the Obama administration has dramatically increased the prosecution of suspected leakers. And a federal appeals court recently prohibited reporters from invoking the First Amendment to avoid testifying in cases about leaks. . The "very act of newsgathering," vanden Heuvel writes, "is under siege...."
Unfortunately, too many of the problems that shaped Nixon's presidency continue today and, if we don't do something about it, we might just end up with another major scandal on our hands, of the kind that is shown in "Our Nixon."
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