The smile is full of memories and pride, engraved in the awareness that they are the ultimate scoops in American politics, touched and irreplaceable even after half a century. And they were the heroes taking it back as it crystallized, sitting in the conference room at the Washington Post. They are Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, reporters from Watergate, the press organization that caused an earthquake in the White House that forced President Richard Nixon to resign. Fifty years later, the two legendary historians find themselves around that table, emerging at the time as young but daring historians, to remember the steps of that epic mission.
Starting with Barry Sussman, who recently passed away. The editor-in-chief at the time, from 1965 was in charge of the capital’s office for the capital newspaper with 40-45 reporters. It was he who chose what later became the two most famous reporters in the history of journalism, so inseparable that they are called by one name: “Woodstein”. Woodward was 29 at the time, and had only worked for the Washington Post for nine months, but he was already distinguished by his unyielding work ethic and investigative fervor, even if he wasn’t very good at writing. He was the first to be called into the “newsroom” after five people were arrested on June 17, 1972 for a raid on the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex. Sussman then joined the contemporary but more experienced Bernstein, who appreciates his skills and writing as a reporter.
The editor-in-chief has played a key role in supporting and coordinating his reporters’ investigations, although his character appears marginal in the fabled film All the President’s Men. But Woodward and Carl Bernstein always give him great credit: “More than any other Washington Post director, or Bernstein Woodward, Sussman has become a living compendium of Watergate knowledge, and a reference source for consultation even when the library fails,” they wrote in their book All the President’s Men which The movie inspired. “Follow the Money” was a phrase whispered out loud to Woodward exposing the scandal (it’s in the movie All the President’s Men). The indicator is always valid, and even more so today, because it allows us to determine the centers of gravity, that is, the point around which everything revolves.
Marking a half-century later, the Watergate sites have opened for tours. The story can be revived on P Street with the Webster Building where Woodard used to place the vase as a nod to speak deeply in the throat. There is meeting parking in Arlington, Ford’s home in Alexandria, and of course the Watergate complex and the room is still preserved as a monument today. Exactly fifty years later, details emerge, such as the character of Martha Meckhill, the woman who allowed Nixon to be nailed. It was the wife of John Mitchell, then the Secretary of Justice, who knew all about the president’s business: her husband had betrayed her, and in retaliation she called reporters to her house and gave them files with documents, and then she went to New York to salute. To them categorically: “Here, trample them.”
Finally, the last note is worth the coincidence of time: half a century of scandal falls into the staggering week of filming to investigate the events of January 6th. “We thought corruption peaked, and then Trump,” the Woodsteins recently wrote, and they repeated it yesterday sitting around that table. Next to them are two young reporters, and it seems – not surprisingly – age is what the then-Protagonists of Watergate were, in a kind of historical juxtaposition that takes the tape of history back to 1972.
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