Jun 13, 2022 - News

Five things you didn't know about Watergate in D.C.

Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein. Photo via Getty Images

On June 17, 1972, a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex led to the scandal that would topple a president, turn two young Washington Post reporters into celebrities, demonstrate the power of investigative journalism, and send shockwaves through both federal Washington and hometown D.C.

Five decades later, though, we’ve forgotten some of the incredible local facets of the scandal. Garrett Graff, journalist and author of Watergate: A New History, unearthed a few for us.

Here are five to impress your friends over drinks.

That time Washingtonian correctly guessed the identity of Deep Throat — in 1974.

  • A year after the break-in, the magazine’s then-editor Jack Limpert wrote that the best gossip game in town was guessing who Deep Throat was, then nailed it himself.
  • “Read the February 28 and March 13 Presidential transcripts and then try someone like Mark Felt on for size,” his article said.

That time the Brookings Institution was almost broken into.

  • Per Graff’s book, Nixon wanted someone to sneak into Brookings to dig up information on himself. Unfortunately for Nixon, the would-be burglar, a former New York cop, could not find the building. Oops.

That time Gerald Ford was the president from Alexandria.

  • When Nixon resigned and Vice President Gerald Ford suddenly became president, he was living in Alexandria. There was not yet a veep mansion at the Naval Observatory.
  • So for the first week or so of Ford’s presidency, the White House was a “little ranch house” in Northern Virginia, Graff says. Police had to barricade the street in front of Ford’s home, WETA writes.

That time the Washington Daily News almost got the big story.

  • Mark Felt didn’t start leaking to Woodward, Graff says. Instead, he was whispering to The Washington Daily News — a rival of the Post. But the Daily News went out of business in mid-1972. Some parts of the paper were sold and merged with The Washington Star.

And speaking of The Washington Star…

  • A friendly face that popped up in Graff’s research: NBC4 reporter Pat Collins. Yes, Snow Stick, See-What-You’ve-Done-Mike, grape costume Pat Collins was a reporter at the now-defunct Star and was assigned to cover Watergate.
  • Alongside a reporting partner, Collins broke some major stories on the scandal, but got a “late start” on the story compared to Woodward and Bernstein, Notre Dame Magazine writes.

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