Worse Than Watergate?


Conservative politicians and pundits believe that the FBI is secretly working to undermine the Donald Trump’s presidency.  This, of course, is why Trump released the Nunes memo yesterday.  Here is Iowa Congressman Steve King:

“This is earth-shaking and it does go deeper than Watergate.”

We have heard this before.  In fact, Politico has managed to dig up forty-six scandals that were also “worse than Watergate.”  They include Chappaquiddick, Iran-Contra, a lot of stuff from the George W. Bush administration, and the Obama birther controversy.

Taylor Gee and Zack Stanton of Politico write:

Political Comparison 101 includes a few basics everybody knows. Want to accuse the current administration of budding authoritarianism? Allude to Nazi Germany. Imply your opponent is leading a witch hunt? Invoke Senator Joe McCarthy.

Recently, one cliché comparison has risen above the rest: “worse than Watergate.”

For decades, the legacy of the 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., has formed a sort of yardstick against which to measure the scandals of the day—hence the lazy tendency to abbreviate every controversy with a moniker ending in “-gate” (see: Bridgegate, Gamergate, Deflategate, Celebgate, and so on).

But over the past year in particular, politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle have grown particularly fond of describing their opponents’ actions as “worse than Watergate”—especially in the context of the Russia investigation. In January alone, conservatives like Sean Hannity, GOP Rep. Steve King and radio show host Howie Carr have accused Democrats or the FBI of corruption that is “bigger” or “worse” or “more serious” than Watergate. Meanwhile, critics of President Donald Trump—ranging from former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean (who literally wrote a book titled “Worse Than Watergate”) to former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum to Obama White House ethics czar Norm Eisen—allege wrongdoing on the part of the president and his aides that rivals only Tricky Dick in its flagrant disregard of the rule of law.

We compiled a list of almost every “worse than Watergate” comparison we could find, from Barry Goldwater’s description of Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick scandal to the Trump-Russia musings of journalist Carl Bernstein, who helped break the original Watergate story. Taken as a whole, it’s hard to see that the overused phrase does anyone any good—other than the Watergate Hotel’s publicity team, of course. As a matter of style, perhaps the only thing worse than Watergate is the phrase “worse than Watergate.”

Read the rest here.



One thought on “Worse Than Watergate?

  1. Your piece reminded me of Sam Ervin. He understood it is the function of the neutral, detached magistrate to stand between the individual and the vast powers of the investigatory state and, to the extent possible, ensure the latter does not violate the constitutional rights of the former. There are no Sam Ervins left in the Democrat party.


Comments are closed.