Essay on The Watergate Scandal

1199 Words 5 Pages
June 17, 1972 forever changed both journalism and politics. A simple botched break-in marked the downfall of President Richard Nixon, and the rise to glory of two obscure young Washington Post journalists: Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. While their investigative journalism revealed the truth, their questionable methods and ethics have led to these questions; Do the ends justify the means? Was their behavior ethical and legal?
The Watergate Scandal was a major political scandal during the Presidency of Nixon. Nixon, paranoid and afraid of losing his reelection, employed men to do an assortment of illegal activities intended to place the republicans ahead of the democrats in the election. The activities were not detected until a
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During different incidents spaced throughout the investigation of Watergate , all four were violated by Woodward and Bernstein.
The first infringement occurred early during Watergate. Bernstein was investigating Miami ties to the Watergate burglars and agreed to trade information (arrests, mental illnesses, history of homosexuality) on a name, for the Dade County, Fl district attorney's knowledge about the connections (Bernstein & Woodward, 1974). It turns out the man investigated was the DA's opponent in the next election. Bernstein never actually gave the DA the research; the DA told him he did not need the information anymore. His crime? Plotting with a prosecutor to investigate a political target (Cook, 2012).
Another ethically objectionable choice was Bernstein illicitly pulling phone and credit card records on Watergate targets (Cook, 2012). He persuaded a source at a telephone company to give him Bernard Baker's (the burglar) records. While not illegal at the time, it is presently a federal offense punishable by up to ten years in prison. Currently, Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper holdings are being destroyed over similar behavior, and the News of the Earth is gone for illegally accessing voicemails; Bernstein's infringements were vastly more obtrusive (Cook, 2012). Violating privacy of personal financial records is completely unethical and a complete infraction of minimizing harm (Society of Professional…

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