With the events of the past week mounting in drama and increasing in intensity almost hourly, many people have recalled another time, another event, where a President of the United States faced a similar wave of controversy and scandal.
In what began as a seemingly innocuous but bungled burglary attempt of the Democratic Party National Headquarters, turned into a national outrage of epic proportions. And at the center of it was Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States. Initially not considered a suspect in the affair and treated largely as a “nothing to see here – keep moving on” non-event, the details persisted and the individuals in the burglary were revealed to be more than just petty crooks who broke into an office.
As the denials persisted and the evidence kept being revealed, it was becoming more an more apparent that, not only did Richard Nixon know what was going on, he sanctioned it. And what went from a political scandal to a bombshell of uncharted territory, the fingers pointed to the President and calls for an explanation were getting louder. The chant “what did he know and when did he know it” became a mantra around Capitol Hill. And contemplation of the unthinkable was starting to unfold.
This radio documentary – part of the NBC Radio Documentary series Second Sunday, tackles the Watergate issue, during a time when the story was far from over and impeachment wasn’t yet underway. Everything that was going on, during this December 1973 broadcast was still unfolding and the full extent of the drama hadn’t quite been revealed.
Hearing this documentary, and the voices of the people involved in that investigation – the figures on Capitol Hill who were faced with supremely uncomfortable task of getting to the truth of the matter, give some indication, some sense of just how damaging an event like this was. It is not something that was taken lightly.
The irony is that the similarities between the events of 1973 and the developing events of February 2017 are somewhat uncanny. Then, as now, there is an issue of uncharted territory – where does this thing end and where is it going?
And ultimately, how is the U.S. going to repair from it. As anyone who remembers this episode of our nations history will tell you; it was shocking and horrifying. The aftermath I likened to “Our Great National Nervous Breakdown”. Where this one will take us is anyone’s guess at the moment.
But here is some evidence that the unthinkable has happened in our history once before – and we did manage to survive.
I won’t be so crass as to urge you to enjoy this one-hour documentary – but I will ask you to listen to the comparisons and the reactions’ both pro and con to what was a very uncertain period in our history.