What was the Legacy of the Watergate Scandal?

On the 50th anniversary of Watergate we ask four historians about its afterlife – beyond the impressively versatile -gate suffix.

A demonstration outside the White House, Washington D.C. Alamy.

‘“Watergate” has been synonymous with criminal wrongdoing’

Clodagh Harrington, Associate Professor in American Politics at De Montfort University

For the past half century, the term ‘Watergate’ has been synonymous with criminal wrongdoing at the highest level of government. Of its multi-faceted legacy, there are perhaps three strands that remain evident to this day. First, the scandal resulted in the evolution of a permanently adversarial media. Two Washington Post investigative journalists became the poster boys for speaking truth to power. As Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bravely held a corrupt Executive to account when others failed to act, they brought unparalleled kudos to their profession. Over time, the news media style evolved from the admirable watchdog to confrontational junk yard dog role.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.