Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are perhaps America’s most famous pair of investigative reporters, not only because they were the subject of a 1976 Academy Award-winning movie, but for single-handedly pursuing an investigation into the Watergate scandal which ultimately contributed to the fall of Richard Nixon.
Today’s political scandals – Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, unfair business practices within the President’s cabinet, etc. – have assured the transcendence of national investigative journalism into the age of Trump, roles held by Woodward and Bernstein some 43 years ago.
The parallels between the Nixon and Trump presidencies extend past the press and past the men themselves. Rather, the two also feature high-profile scandals that have engulfed their senior officials.
The recent indictment of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort shares a striking historical parallel to the Watergate era. Former Attorney General of the United States and eventual Nixon campaign manager John Mitchell was indicted for obstruction of justice and perjury.
Several senior ranking officials, most notably Maurice Stans and H.R. Haldeman of the Nixon campaign and Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos of the Trump campaign were indicted for lying to the FBI and for obstruction of justice, in addition to a slew of other charges.
Though the tools used in investigative reporting have transformed from typewriters and rotary phones to encryption apps and anonymous emails, the work and importance of investigative journalists are just as, if not more important than ever in maintaining the health of our democracy.
The spirit of discovering the unknown, work ethic and dogged pursuit of truth found in Woodward and Bernstein can be found in Washington Post report David Fahrenthold.
The 39-year-old Houstonian broke the story to a shocked American electorate and an emboldened candidate Hillary Clinton of a recording in which Trump made sexually expletive remarks about grabbing women’s genitals during the filming of an episode of NBC’s Access Hollywood back in 2005. This is in addition to a bombshell expose on Trump’s personal charity failing to live up to the claim that it donated large sums of the foundation’s funds to various veterans’ organizations.
Investigative journalists have and continue to hold elected officials accountable with the understanding that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law or scrutiny of the press.
The investigative journalism team at the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times fulfill the press’ sacred and necessary role of keeping the American people informed on their government. It is essential that the dissemination of news and information on the political pursuits of the President and members of his administration come not from the President’s twitter account or a carefully crafted statement put out by the White House Press Office, but by a free and independent press with the resources, funding and personnel needed to ensure what politicians say and do is indeed the truth.