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Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Watergate But Where Afraid to Ask

Riverdale Avenue

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Word Count: 45,000
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The story of Watergate is usually told through the prism of the straight, white male journalists and politicians who were at the center of the scandal—but Watergate happened to all of us – wives, mothers, children, black, white, queer, immigrants. Those voices and perceptions are rarely heard today.

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WATERGATE was envisioned as a book that looks at the wider ripples of the Watergate explosion and how it changed the way Americans saw themselves, their country and the world around them.

This is both a serious, and irreverent book, put together by a team of two newspaper journalists and ten college interns from throughout the country. Think of it as a primer on Watergate for the generation that grew up watching The Daily Show.


If the White House is haunted — Churchill supposedly saw Lincoln’s ghost when he (Churchill, we hope) was getting out of the bathtub — then there’s a case to be made that Richard Nixon’s ghost whispers in Donald Trump’s ear, as Trump appears to be taking his playbook directly from Tricky Dick. Maybe that explains the chilling similarities between Watergate and Russiagate as we mark the 43rd anniversary of Nixon’s resignation on Aug. 8.

Watergate gave us the lazy media habit of attaching “gate” to even the most prosaic wrongdoing, from Billygate, when Jimmy Carter’s hapless brother got himself hired to represent Libya, to the epic list of Clintonian gates, from Filegate and Travelgate to Pardongate and Troopergate, not to mention the seemingly quaint, horny simplicity of Zippergate (or, to some, Monicagate).

Beyond a simple suffix connecting Russiagate to Watergate, how much does Trump’s White House have in common with that of Richard Nixon?

Both Nixon and Trump were obsessed with leaks to the press. The Watergate break-in was ordered to find out who “leaked” the news of the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. The burglars were nicknamed “The Plumbers” by the White House because they were going to plug the leaks.

Trump has set his attack Attorney General and “alternative facts” fact-checker Kellyanne Conway after White House leaks to the press after embarrassing phone calls between Trump and Mexican and Australian leaders were published, which was the cherry on the multi-tiered tottering cake of a Wall Street Journal interview where Trump made up congratulatory phone calls from Boy Scout officials and Mexico’s President.

Both and Nixon and Trump were demonstrably resentful and insecure, with Nixon always seething over the media’s adulation of John F. Kennedy and Trump continually relitigating his (electoral-college only) win over Hillary Clinton. Trump Tweets accusations of “Fake news!” at the national media, while Nixon dispatched his vice president, Spiro T. Agnew, to attack journalists with the much more alliterative, “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

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