The Battle for Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls during Watergate

By Gladys Engel Lang; Kurt Lang | Go to book overview
Save to active project

EPILOGUE

Watergate began as a narrowly political issue, the kind that often surfaces during an election campaign. A crisis of confidence developed only after it came to stand for something much more serious, for Presidential complicity in a political scandal and a continuing effort to cover up that complicity. With Watergate now a symbolic issue involving the integrity of the Presidency and the democratic values of governance, it could no longer be settled to almost everyone's satisfaction through the usual political bargaining, without recourse to the authority on which legal decisions are presumably based.

In this book we have traced the changing perceptions of the issue: what was the "crime"? who was to blame? and what was the proper punishment? We have also considered the contribution of the media to these changes in public opinion and that of public opinion to the extraordinary outcome. Based on the evidence, we reject the paranoid version of Watergate propagated by the White House that the crisis was manufactured by a hostile press which finally drove Nixon from office. But we also reject the populist view that Nixon was forced to resign because he lost his baffle for public opinion.

The moving force behind the effort to get to the bottom of Watergate came neither from the media nor public opinion but from political insiders. The conflict pitted the White House against those who, for whatever reason, wanted full disclosure of the facts behind the illegal attempt to plant wiretaps in the national headquarters of the Democratic Party. These opponents included the Democrats' chairman who, as the intended victim, sought publicity as well as redress through a civil suit; the Federal judge before whom the initial Watergate case was tried; the Senate which, prodded by the Democrats, set up a select committee to look into campaign practices; the special prosecutors appointed as political pressure mounted to clear up the case; and the House, which was about to act on the three articles of impeachment its Judiciary Committee had recommended when Nixon, by resigning, short- circuited the process.

-301-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Battle for Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls during Watergate
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 356

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?