The hero-journalist myth of Watergate

Media Myth Alert

What I call “the dominant popular narrative” of the Watergate scandal made an appearance the other day, in a posting at the popular Huffington Post blog.

The occasion was a withering attack on James O’Keefe, the activist-undercover journalist arrested last month posing as a telephone repairman at the New Orleans offices of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.

The Huffington Post item unfavorably compared O’Keefe to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who reported most prominently on the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post in the early 1970s. The item declared:

“Woodward and Bernstein brought down a president and they didn’t have to break into anyone’s office.”

Neither did O’Keefe. But it is striking how routinely and off-handedly Woodward and Bernstein are credited with such an accomplishment, especially when the record of Watergate shows that the Post‘s reporting had a marginal effect on forcing Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.


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About Jim Rose

Utopia - you are standing in it promotes a classical liberal view of the world and champion the mass flourishing of humanity through capitalism and the rule of law. The origin of the blog is explained in the first blog post at

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