1974: Watergate 40 Years Later

by Caitlin Hillyard

Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal.

This week American History TV has been playing programming related to Watergate and the Nixon presidency.

If you missed any of these programs over the past few days and want to watch the archived video, you'll find links to them below.

On July 8, 1974, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States v. Nixon over whether the president had to release audio tapes and other information related to Watergate, or if he could claim executive privilege. The tapes were sought by the Watergate special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski.

Former Representative William Cohen (R-ME) gives a behind-the-scenes account of the House Judiciary Committee's hearings to consider the articles of impeachment against President Nixon. This interview from June 17 is in three parts. You can listen to part two here and part three here.

Timothy Naftali, former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, discusses the House Judiciary Committee's daylong debate over Article II, which charged President Nixon with abuse of power. He explains why the charge was at the heart of the impeachment proceedings and how the committee's vote continues to shape out understanding of presidential power. This interview from July 1 is in two parts. You can watch the second part here.

As director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Naftali conducted an oral history project to capture the recollections of major players from the Nixon presidency. To mark the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library released interviews with major players in the Nixon years. This was the first time that many of these individuals have spoken for the record about the work and inner politics of the impeachment inquiry.

In August 2007, Charles Colson, former special counsel to President Nixon, described the Watergate break-in, the secret White House tapes and his relationship with the president. In April 2007, Dwight Chapin, President Nixon's appointments secretary, talked about the 1972 political campaign and the Watergate scandal that followed. In December 2008, President Nixon's Solicitor General, Robert Bork, discussed the "Saturday Night Massacre" and his role in those events. You can also watch more interviews from Timothy Naftali's oral history project.

On Thursday, historians Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter and journalist and author Carl Bernstein discussed President Nixon's presidency and resignation.

Mr. Brinkley also appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to talk about his book, The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, which he co-edited with Nichter. It includes commentary and transcriptions of President Nixon’s conversations with staff between February of 1971 and January of 1973.

This Saturday at 10:30 a.m. eastern, C-SPAN Radio will a program that includes some of President Nixon's last phone calls while in office. has a vast array of resources on the Nixon presidency and the Watergate scandal, including our Life Portrait of President Nixon, part of the network's American Presidents series in 1999.

In October 2007, journalist David Frost discussed his book Frost/Nixon: Behind the Scenes of the Nixon Interviews, about the series of interviews he conducted with former President Nixon in 1977.

In January 2012, John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Nixon and a key figure in the investigation and political scandal that followed, spoke about Watergate, President Nixon and his own involvement in the events that led to the end of the administration.

In May 2010, Washington Post Vice President At-Large Ben Bradlee discusses how the news industry has changed since the Nixon presidency and the Watergate scandal. He was executive editor of the paper from 1968 to 1991 and oversaw Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's reporting on Watergate.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee that considered President Nixon's impeachment took part in a 1989 discussion on the impact of Watergate to mark the 15th anniversary of President Nixon's resignation.

On July 16, 1973, Alexander Butterfield testified before the Senate Watergate Committee, revealing the existence of a secret recording system in the White House. He served as deputy assistant to President Nixon from 1969 to 1973, and was responsible for providing the president with briefing papers, taking care of his personal correspondence, maintaining historical records, and operating the White House taping system.

In March 2010, Benton Becker, who was special adviser to President Gerald Ford, discussed President Ford's decision to pardon President Nixon in September 1974 for any wrongdoings related to Watergate.

In August 1976, Mark Felt was interviewed on the CBS news program Face the Nation about his involvement in illegal FBI break-ins of anti-war protesters during an investigation of the group the Weather Underground. He was convicted for his role in the affair and pardoned by President Reagan. He later revealed he was "Deep Throat," the source for Washington Post stories on the Watergate break-in and corruption within the Nixon administration.

And in May 2010, Geoff Shepard, who was an adviser to President Nixon, talked about five different conspiracy theories about the Watergate break-in and cover-up, and compared each of version up to William Felt's final admission that he was "Deep Throat."