Home World 50 years after the Watergate case, Woodward and Bernstein: “We thought corruption had peaked, then came Trump”

50 years after the Watergate case, Woodward and Bernstein: “We thought corruption had peaked, then came Trump”

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50 years after the Watergate case, Woodward and Bernstein: “We thought corruption had peaked, then came Trump”

The smile is full of memories and pride, carved in the awareness of being the holders of the absolute scoop of American politics, affected and unassailable even after half a century. And they who were the protagonists relive it where it took shape, sitting in the meeting room of the Washington Post. They are Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters from Watergate the journalistic enterprise that triggered an earthquake in the White House forcing President Richard Nixon to resign. Fifty years later, the two legendary chroniclers find themselves around that table, where at the time they appeared as young but daring chroniclers, to remember the steps of that epic undertaking.

Starting with Barry Sussman, who recently passed away. He was the chief editor at the time, from 1965 in charge of the metropolitan desk of the newspaper of the capital with 40-45 reporters. It was he who chose what later became the most famous couple of reporters in the history of journalism, inseparable to the point of being called by a single name: “Woodstein”. Woodward was 29 at the time and had only worked at the Post for nine months but had already stood out for his inexhaustible work ethic and investigative zeal, even though he didn’t excel at writing. He was the first to be called into the “newsroom” after the arrest on June 17, 1972 of five people for raiding the Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex. Then Sussman joined the contemporary but more experienced Bernstein, whose skills he appreciated as a reporter and writing.

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The chief editor played a key role in supporting and coordinating the investigations of his two reporters, although his figure appears marginal in the legendary film “All the President’s Men”. But Woodward and Carl Bernstein have always given him great credit: “More than any other manager at the Post, or Bernstein and Woodward, Sussman became a living compendium of Watergate knowledge, a reference source to consult when even the library failed”, they wrote about him in their book “All the President’s Men”, which inspired the film. “Follow the Money” was the deep-throated whispered phrase to Woodward to unravel the scandal (it’s in the movie All the President’s Men). The indication is always valid, indeed even more so today, because it allows us to identify the centers of gravity, that is, the point around which everything revolves.

On the occasion of the half century, the sites of Watergate were opened for tours. The story can be relived on P street with the Webster building where Woodard used to place the flowerpot as a signal to speak with the deep throat. There is the meeting parking lot in Arlington, Ford’s house in Alexandria, of course the Watergate complex and the room still preserved as a relic today. And precisely after fifty years, details emerge, such as the figure of Martha Micthell, the woman who allowed Nixon to be nailed. It is the wife of John Mitchell, then Minister of Justice who knew everything about the President’s business: she was betrayed by her husband, so in revenge she called the reporters to her house and gave them folders with documents, then went to New York greeting them with a peremptory: “here, nail them”.

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Finally, a last note deserves the coincidence in time: the half-century of the scandal falls in the week of the spectacularization of the investigation into the events of January 6. “We thought corruption had peaked, then Trump came,” wrote the “Woodsteins” recently, and they repeated it yesterday sitting around that table. Next to them are two young reporters, the age – not surprisingly – appears to be what the two protagonists of Watergate had then, in a sort of historical juxtaposition that rewinds the tape of history to that 1972.

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