Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Woodward and Bernstein Waterate Papers

The Washington Post

On June 18, 1972, a Washington Post front page story reported on the previous day's break-in at the Democratic National Committee's office in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC. Five men were arrested while attempting to photograph documents and place bugging devices in the offices. Two of the reporters who worked on the story, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, spent the following days and months virtually alone among the nation's media in their efforts to uncover the full extent of what the White House dismissed as a "third-rate burglary," and others jokingly referred to as "the Watergate caper."

For several months following the break-in, Woodward and Bernstein repeatedly wrote front page stories exposing links between the burglary and Nixon's campaign organization, the Committee for the Reelection of the President (CRP). Despite mounting evidence, they were unable to connect the burglars directly to Nixon or his staff until an October 10, 1972 story in which they disclosed in detail that the Watergate break-in was part of a larger effort to sabotage Nixon's political opponents--paid for through the CRP under the direction of some of Nixon's closest aides.

After Nixon's re-election in November 1972, many thought the story would die, but Woodward and Bernstein continued their investigation with increasing competition from other news agencies. A special Senate investigating committee was formed to look into Nixon's campaign activities, and on April 30, 1973, due to the mounting evidence of their personal involvement, Nixon's Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman, and Attorney General Richard Kleindienst all resigned and Presidential Counsel John Dean was fired. The following day, White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler apologized to Woodward, Bernstein, and The Washington Post for his previous criticism of their stories. Several days later The Washington Post received the Pulitzer Prize for Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate reporting.

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