Mastering Media Change

(Or Riding Journalism's Tiger)

 

General Liberal Arts 280-7

Residential College Tutorial

 

Fall 2010

 

Syllabus

 

Prof. David Abrahamson

Fisk 201A

 (847) 467-4159

d-abrahamson@northwestern.edu

http://www.davidabrahamson.com

 

Office Hours:

Mon. 11:00-12:00 or by appointment

 

 

 

The only end of writing is to enable readers better

to enjoy life or better to endure it.

--Samuel Johnson

(1709-1784)

 

 

 

Description

 

A simple premise informs the course: that the dominant trope in journalism today is change. Not only is change occurring, the rate of change is accelerating. Rather than adopt the conceit that it might be possible to predict the profession's likely trajectory for the next five to ten years, the class will instead focus on a real-world understanding of the way media changes. Why it changes? What determines successful and unsuccessful change? What are the implications? Using both historical precedents and data from this morning's headlines and this evening's blog posts, students will critically examine the contemporary media landscape and employ case-based analytical tools to develop a practical understanding of the processes of media change. An important emphasis of the tutorial will be the idea of empowerment. If, as some have said, the changes facing journalism today seem like a tsunami, you might think of this as something of a master class in body surfing. The course will not attempt to teach "tomorrow's information technology today" but rather the ideational survival skills needed in a decidedly -- and increasingly -- discontinuous profession.

 

 

Readings

 

Many of the assigned readings for the course are available in a course packet. You will, however, need to purchase the following books, most available in paperback, at the University Bookstore:

 

 

 

 

8/10/10

David Abrahamson, Magazine-Made America

Elliot King, Free for All: The Internet's Transformation of Journalism

Rachel Davis Mersey, Can Journalism be Saved?

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Michael Schudson, Discovering the News

 

 

...plus a course workbook to be purchased in Fisk 109 (please bring to first

class)

 

Recommended but not required works you may want to purchase for your personal use include:

 

James Wagner Au, The Making of Second Life

Jack Fuller, What is Happening to News

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy

Carl Jensen, Stories That Changed America

Mitchell Stephens, A History of News

 

The course will be conducted in seminar fashion, so you must be prepared to participate in the class discussion. It is essential that you complete all the assigned readings for each class meeting. We may not discuss every reading in class, but you will be responsible for all the readings on the exams and in occasional in-class written assignments. 

 

 

Midterm Examination

 

The midterm exam is scheduled for Week 7. We will discuss the nature and format of the examination in some detail well before the exam date.

 

 

Homework Assignments to our Listserv

 

There will be a number of written homework assignments during the term, typically due the next class meeting. These will include recitations, analyses, formal paper proposals (plus written critiques of your fellow students' proposals), term papers, etc. All assignments will be submitted in both hard copy (in class) and posted to a dedicated listserv, MEDILL-MC, via e-mail, by an agreed deadline. It should be noted that all assignments will be written to assigned deadlines which should be considered inviolable (see "Grading" below).

 

Because history has shown that there are major incompatibilities between the university servers and third-party e-mail systems such as Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL, it will be essential that, for this term, you use your university e-mail address and turn off all forwarding to other systems that might be in effect.

 

To sign up to our listserv, send a one-line message (no subject) reading:

<SUB MEDILL-MC YourFirstName YourLastName> to the following address:

<LISTSERV@LISTSERV.IT.NORTHWESTERN.EDU>. Recheck your e-mail 10 minutes later, and if you successfully signed up, you will have received a "welcoming message" with specific instructions. Please follow them.

 

 

 

 

 

Major Writing Assignment

 

In addition to a variety of homework and in-class writing assignments, you will complete one major writing assignment. It will be a formal term paper (with bibliography and footnotes) not to exceed 15 double-spaced typed pages. It will be an interpretive essay on a single thematic topic that combines your own critical commentary on three or more of the assigned readings with that from other secondary critical sources.

 

Conferences: You must arrange an individual conference with me for approval of your major writing assignment no later than seventh week of the term. Your proposal should include a concise (one page or less) summary of your intentions and a preliminary list of sources and/or a bibliography. I will be glad to discuss the nature and formulation of the assignment with you, as often as necessary, as you set out to write it.

 

 

Optional Major Reading Assignment (extra credit)

 

You may also, if desired, take on an extra-credit reading assignment. Select one of the books from the list below; they are available in the library and/or most good bookstores. Read it closely, reflecting on the following questions: what is the book's central thesis or core argument? Is it well documented? Is the argument itself convincing? Then, prior to the ninth week of the course, write an analytical essay of no more than 1000 words explicating those aspects of the work you found unique, original and/or worthy of emulation if you yourself  were ever to write a thoughtful book-length work on the topic of media change.

 

Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Neil Henry, American Carnival

Jonathan Knee, The Curse of the Mogul

Paul Levinson, The Soft Edge

Carolyn Marvin, When Old Technologies Were New

Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden

David Nye, American Technological Sublime

Marcin Ramocki, DIY: The Militant Embrace of Technology

Richard Rhodes, Visions of Technology

David Thorburn, Rethinking Media Change

 

 

Grading

 

Because participation in the discussions forms a significant part of the course, attendance is mandatory. Missing class will lower your final grade, as will lack of preparation. If, for some very important reason, you will be absent from class, you must let me know beforehand.

 

There are many deadlines in the course for written assignments. I think it is reasonable to expect that, as a serious student, you do whatever is necessary to meet, without fail, without exception, every one of these deadlines. Each assignment deadline assumes the work will be turned in at the start of class, so promptness is essential. No late assignments will be accepted. 

 

The penalties: Two (2) absences and/or one (1) missed deadline will, no matter what the quality of your other efforts, lower your final course grade one full letter grade. You will find me unusually intolerant of excuses, explanations, etc.

 

Your final grade in the course will be calculated from a combination of a number of factors. A grade for your participation in the class discussion will be assigned, and, along with your homework and in-class writing exercises, it will comprise 50 percent of your final grade. The major writing assignment will count for 30 percent of your grade, and exams (midterm and final) will count for 10 percent each for a total of 20 percent. You'll note that your efforts in the classroom (and the resulting homework assignments) account for a substantial portion of your final grade, so quite clearly both class attendance and class participation are important.

 

Two final matters: (a) Northwestern is committed to providing a supportive and challenging environment for students with disabilities, working to provide a learning environment that affords them equal access and reasonable accommodation of their disabilities; any student who has a documented disability and needs accommodations for classes and/or course work is requested to speak directly to the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (847-467-5530) and me within the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. And (b) It is expected that all students will adhere to the Medill School of Journalism's Standards for Academic Integrity as outlined in the Undergraduate Handbook. If you do not have a copy, please obtain one from the undergraduate registrar, Fisk Hall, Room 104B.

 

 

Course Schedule

 

Sept 27 (Week 1): Introduction

 

A few questions worth asking: What constitutes "media change"? What are the factors that influence it? Who decides? How important is context?

 

Assignment: Autobiographical essay (due next class meeting).

Assignment: Media Change Insight (See listserv "Welcoming Message"; due on listserv tomorrow; Subject line: "YourName's Media Change Insight, Version 1").

 

 

Oct 4 (Week 2):   The 19th-Century Media Origins: Economic, Social and

                  Technological Factors.

 

      Michael Schudson, Discovering the News, Chapter 1: "The Revolution in American Journalism in the Age of Egalitarianism: The Penny Press" and Chapter 2: "Telling Stories: Journalism as A Vocation After 1880"

Kevin G. Barnhurst and John Nerone, The Form of News: A History, Chapter 1: "The Form of News: Style, Production, and Social Meaning, 1750-2000"

 

Recitation: Schudson, Nerone (please use Subject Line: "YourName's Recitation on AuthorName, BookName")

Context & Impact Report: 19th-Century Industrialization and Urbanization (Subject Line: "YourName's C&I Report of TitleOfReport")

 

 

Turn in Autobiographical Essay (two copies, please).

 

 

Oct 11 (Week 3):  Media and the Challenges of Modernity: Political, Managerial

 and Cultural Factors.

           

      Michael Schudson, Discovering the News, Chapter 3: "Stories and Information: Two Journalisms of the 1890s" and Chapter 4: "Objectivity Becomes Ideology: Journalism After World War I"

Phyllis Kannis, Making Local News, Chapter 1: "The Historical Development of the Local News Media"

David Brooks, "The Medium Is the Medium," New York Times

 

Recitation: Kaniss, Brooks

C&I Report: Turn of the Century: The Age of Reform, The Age of Commerce

 

 

Oct 18 (Week 4): Media for America's Emerging Middle Class.

 

Douglas B. Ward, “The Geography of Ladies’ Home Journal: An Analysis of a Magazine’s Audience, 1911-55,” Journalism History

 

NOTE: Light reading this week, but heavy the next two weeks. Please try to read ahead.

 

Recitation: Ward

C&I Report: America Comes of Age, 1920-1945: Jazz, Depression and WWII

 

 

Oct 15 (Week 5):  The Short-Lived American Century (1945-1973):

                  Mass Markets and Special Interests

 

      David Abrahamson, Magazine-Made America, Chapter4 1: "Introduction," Chapter 2: "Consensus Milieu, Consensus Magazines," Chapter 3: "Changing Magazine in a Changing World," Chapter 4: "The Other 1960s"

      Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapter 1: The Medium is the Metaphor," Chapter 2: "Media as Epistemology," Chapter 3: "Typographic American," Chapter 4: "The Typographic Mind," and Chapter 5: "The Peek-a-boo World"

Ronald N. Jacobs, Race, Media and the Crisis of Civil Society: From Watts to Rodney King, Chapter 1: "Race, Media, and Multiple Publics"

Nan Robertson, The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and The New York Times, Chapter 10: "The Single Worst Moment"

 

Recitation: Abrahamson, Postman, Robertson

C&I Report: The Media's Role in the Post-1945 American Dream

 

 

Nov 1 (Week 6): The Rise of the Internet and the Web: The Tectonic Plates Start

                  to Shift

 

      Elliot King, Free for All, Chapter 1: "Necessary but not Sufficient," Chapter 4: "The Next New Medium," Chapter 5: "The Avalanche of Online News," and Chapter 6: "News from Anyone of Anywhere"

John C. Nerone, ed., Last Rights: Revisiting Four Theories of the Press, “Will Technology Make Responsibility Obsolete?”

Paul Starr, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption),” The New Republic

Jack Fuller, "Feeling the Heat," Nieman Reports and What is Happening to News: Information Explosion and the Crisis in Journalism, Chapter 2: "The Science of Journalism"

 

Recitation: King, Starr, Fuller

C&I Report: The Emergence of Digital Technology: Cellular Phones and Computers, 1990-2000

 

Turn in Term Paper Proposal (due on MEDILL-MC by listserv deadline)

 

 

Nov 8 (Week 7):   Mid-term Exam.

 

Seminar: Workshop term paper proposals

 

 

Nov 15 (Week 8): The Accelerating Nature of Media Change: Possible Economic and

                  Technological Determinants

 

Jack Shafer, “The Newspaper-Web War,” Slate

John Temple, “Did the Internet Kill the Rocky Mountain News? And, if It Did, What Can We Learn from its Death?” Temple Talk: An Editor on Journalism and the Media

Jay Harris, “Profits and Journalism in Newspapering,” The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics

Tom Eisenmann, Toby Stuart and David Kiron, “The Huffington Post,” Harvard Business School

Daniel Lyons, "Arianna's Answer," Newsweek

Charles Lewis, “The Nonprofit Road: It’s Paved Not with Gold, but with Good Journalism,” Columbia Journalism Review

The Economist, "The Strange Survival of Ink"

 

Recitation: Shafer, Harris

C&I Report: The Multiplication of Media Choices and Channels, 2000-2010

 

 

Nov 22  (Week 9): The Value Equation and the Nature of Transformation: The

                  Sociocultural Considerations

 

Frank Hornig, “Chris Anderson on the Economics of ‘Free’: ‘Maybe Media Will Be a Hobby Rather than a Job,’” Spiegel Online

Mark Deuze, “Ethnic Media, Community Media and Participatory Culture,” Journalism

Jonathan A. Knee, Bruce C. Greenwald and Ava Seave, The Curse of the Mogul: What’s Wrong with the World’s Leading Media Companies, Chapter 10: "All (Profitable) Media Is Local: Newspapers, Theaters, and Communications"

Nicholas Lemann, “Fear and Favor: Why is Everyone Mad at the Mainstream Media?” The New Yorker

 

Recitation: Anderson, Lemann

C&I Report: Communications and Control: The Role of the Self, 2008-2010

 

 

Nov 29 (Week 10): Course Conclusion, Evaluation and Review.

 

Rachel Davis Mersey, Can Journalism be Saved?, Chapter 1: "The Brave New World of Journalism." Chapter 2: "From Whence Journalists Came," Chapter 6: "A new Framework," Chapter 7: "Paying for it All" and Chapter 8: "Journalism Is Spelled with an 'I'"

James Fallows, "How to Save the News," The Atlantic

Michael Kinsley, "News Junkie Smackdown," Slate

Project of Excellence in Journalism, "Introduction" and "Major Trends," The State of the News Media 2010

 

Recitation: Mersey, Fallows, Kinsley

 

Final Exam.

 

Turn-in Major Writing Assignment.

 

 

Initial Assignments

 

 

1. Autobiographical assignment.

 

Write an autobiographical essay. This is due the second class meeting. No more than two double-spaced typewritten pages, 500 words or less, to include, but not limited to: Your age, nationality and ethnic background, hometown of your youth, parents and their occupations and influence on you, your major and why you chose it, jobs you've held, your future professional aspirations, your hobbies and interests, the three most memorable books you've read and what makes them so, the magazine, newspaper, TV show, blog or other media enterprise you most admire (and perhaps might some day consider working for?) and why you admire it. Please conclude your essay with an attempt to write one perfect English sentence that includes the word "love."

 

 

2. Author/Work Recitation.

 

During the term, you will be responsible for four or more brief (five-minute) class presentations on the authors on the reading list and their books (or articles). In addition to general biographic information, these recitations should include summaries of their writing careers (see sample below) and, most importantly, a summary of the central argument presented by their work. To prepare for these presentations, you should use both general reference sources (encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries, etc.) and specific secondary sources. It would be interesting if you could also include counter-arguments by other authors.

 

In addition, please conclude your recitation with a "quintessential quote." It should be an example of one single sentence you have unearthed in your readings of the author's work that could be regarded as a consummately quintessential example of both their core argument and their world view; in effect, a sentence that could only have been written by them.

 

Please post your author's recitation on our MEDILL-MC listserv by the agreed listserv deadline and bring two (2) hard copies to class. You will turn in one copy of your recitation -- double-spaced, with bibliography -- for evaluation.

 

 

3. Context and Impact Report.

 

During the term, you will be responsible for two or more class presentations which explicate the social, political, economic and cultural contexts of the media in a specific study period. A historical assignment, your task is to (a) define the existing media context prior to the appearance of the change, and (b) discuss the actual impact and outcomes of the change. It may be useful to think of it this way: Your report should both set the stage for the coming societal changes and detail what changes the media then had a hand in making it happen.

 

You will also post your Context and Impact Report assignment on our MEDILL-MC listserv on the agreed listserv deadline and bring (2) hard copies to class. You will turn in one copy of your recitation -- double-spaced, with bibliography -- for evaluation.

 

 

Author/Work Recitation List

 

This is the list of authors and books we will cover in the assigned readings. You will be responsible for four or more recitations.

 

Schudson, Discovering the News

Nerone, The Form of News: A History

Kannis, Making Local News

Brooks, "The Medium Is the Medium

Ward, “The Geography of Ladies’ Home Journal"

Abrahamson, Magazine-Made America

Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Robertson, The Girls in the Balcony

King, Free for All

Starr, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers"

Fuller, What is Happening to News

Shafer, “The Newspaper-Web War”

Harris, “Profits and Journalism in Newspapering

Anderson, "The Economics of Free"

Lemann, “Fear and Favor"

Mersey, Can Journalism be Saved?

Fallows, "How to Save the News"

Kinsley, "News Junkie Smackdown"

 

 

Context and Impact Report List

 

You will be responsible for two or more C&I Report assignments.

 

19th-Century Industrialization and Urbanization

Turn of the Century: The Age of Reform, The Age of Commerce

America Comes of Age, 1920-1945: Jazz, Depression and WWII

The Media's Role in the Post-1945 American Dream

The Emergence of Digital Technology: Cell Phones and Computers, 1990-2000

The Multiplication of Media Choices and Channels, 2000-2010

Communications and Control: The Role of the Self, 2008-2010

 

 

Sample Author/Work Recitation

 

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court

 

Mark Twain (b. Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910) was perhaps the best known American novelist of his time. Though the early death of his father, a Hannibal, Mo. shopkeeper, left the family destitute, Twain had two advantages: One was his mother's belief in education. "A Harvard or Yale graduate of Twain's time would have regarded him as unschooled," wrote biographer Oliver Howard, "but he had ten years of formal schooling from age four through 14, far more than the average person of his generation."

         The second was his older brother, Orion, owner of the Hannibal Journal, who introduced him to the world of newspapers. Starting as a 12-year-old assistant on the Journal, Twain quickly learned the typesetting craft and became a journeyman printer, traveling as far east as New York before he was 19.

   When the Civil War closed the river trade in 1861, ending a brief stint as a Mississippi river pilot, Twain went west. Having occasionally contributed satirical pieces to his brother's Journal, Walt Whitman's New Orleans Crescent and the Keokuk (Iowa) Post in his late teens and early twenties, Twain soon decided on a career in journalism. Presenting himself to the owner of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise in September 1862, he declared, "My name is Clemens, and I've come to write for the paper." Clearly, the raw, violent world of the Comstock Lode did not daunt him. Though short on actual journalistic training, he promptly found his way.

         Recalling his very first reporting assignment in Virginia City, Twain would later write, "I felt that I had found my legitimate occupation as last." Later he would work as a reporter for the Placer (Nev.) Weekly Courier, the San Francisco Call and the San Francisco Alta California, as a traveling correspondent for a number of California and New York newspapers and as a contributor to Harper's, The Atlantic and Galaxy magazines.

   Almost 25 years after beginning his newspaper career as a "printer's devil," Twain found his fictional voice, publishing his first narrative work, Roughing It, in 1872. This was followed by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper, Life on the Mississippi, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court. These later novels not only established Twain's position as the master folk-writer of his era, but also secured the place of the colloquial voice of the Western frontier in American literature.

         The central argument of the assigned work, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court, is a serious reflection on the nature of humankind told through cracker-barrel humor. Twain uses an imaginary fable of a contemporary 19th-century American from Hartford ("a Yankee of Yankees") waking up and finding himself in Arthurian England in the Middle Ages. Using the contrasts between the well-known and somewhat self-satisfied Yankee cultural milieu and the medieval norms of government, commerce and social interaction, Twain suggests an interesting thesis: that even though progress -- personified by the time-traveling Yankee -- has occurred in the world, the narrator comes to understand that a significant portion of the human condition has not changed at all.

         Nevertheless, in the end, the book celebrates both Yankee/American ingenuity and open-mindedness, and leaves the reader with the hope that future progress will indeed be possible.

 

         Quintessential quote:

 

"Camelot—Camelot," said I to myself. "I don't seem to remember hearing of it before. Name of the asylum, likely."

 

Bibliography

 

Branch, Edgar M., ed. Clemens of the Call. Berkeley: Univ. of California

  Press, 1969.

Budd, Louis J. Our Mark Twain: The Making of his Public Personality.

  Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

Connery, Thomas Bernard. Fusing Fictional Technique and Journalistic Fact:

  Literary Journalism in the 1890s Newspaper.  Providence, R.I.: s.n., 1984.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1953 ed. S.v. "Twain, Mark."

Hicks, Granville. The Great Tradition. New York: Biblio, 1967.

Howard, Oliver N. and Howard, Goldena. The Mark Twain Book. New London, Mo.:

  Ralls County Book Co., 1985.

Lauber, John. The Making of Mark Twain. New York: American Heritage, 1985.

Sanborn, Margaret. Mark Twain: The Bachelor Years. New York: Doubleday, 1990.

 

 

Sample Context and Impact Report

 

The Watergate Affair, 1974-1976

 

The Watergate scandal, and the subsequent resignation of President Richard Nixon, was a pivotal event in America’s political history. Its impact was not merely the illumination of Nixon and his followers’ paranoia, and the first presidential resignation, but a major step in the increasing wariness with which the American public viewed its government. Watergate hammered the final nail in the coffin of the idealism of the 1960’s, which had begun in large part with the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and exacerbated enormously by the Vietnam quagmire and the publication of the Pentagon Papers.

      “Espionage was not new in American politics, but [Nixon’s] entourage carried it to unprecedented lengths while resorting to sometimes absurd practices. Prior to the 1972 election, then counsel to the Finance Committee to Re-elect the President, or FCRP, G. Gordon Liddy, gave a plan which campaign officials accepted. It called for the breaking-in, bugging, and photographing of documents at the Democratic National Committee headquarters located in the Watergate building. As Liebovich writes: “After the Watergate burglary, Liddy bragged that he had shown his manliness by biting the head off a rat. The reelection effort was out of control.”

      Original proposals by Liddy were even more outlandish. His first proposal was a million dollar venture including the “temporary abduction of radical leaders who might cause trouble at the Republican National Convention, the presence of squads to ‘rough up’ demonstrators, and” – most ludicrous of all – “the anchoring of a yacht off Miami Beach, equipped with hidden microphones, cameras, and call girls who would try to extract information from Democratic officials.” These wild plans to spy on the Democrats, considered with the “overwhelming margin” by which Nixon was later elected, underscore the immense paranoia present in the Republican campaign. Early polls putting Nixon even or just slightly ahead of prospective Democratic nominee Edmund Sixtus Muskie were enough to prompt a massive campaign to conduct espionage on the opposition. Eventually, Muskie dropped out of the campaign, leaving Nixon to trounce the Democratic candidate, George McGovern.

      Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein followed the money trail (as advised by Woodward’s secret source “Deep Throat,” who recently was revealed to be Mark Felt of the FBI), which eventually led to a secret “security fund” run by CREEP, or the Committee to Re-elect the President. Later, they revealed a fund financing the “dirty tricks” campaign of Donald Segretti, and another controlled by White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman which was used as hush money, much of which was paid to E. Howard Hunt, who coordinated the break-in at the Watergate.

      The Watergate break-in was executed by the Plumbers, the group formed by the Nixon administration to stop leaks coming out of the White House, and also to undertake some fairly shady activities. The Plumbers burglarized the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, presumably looking for ways to discredit him. Ellsberg was, of course, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers in the first place. The Plumbers later failed twice to break in to the DNC headquarters at the Watergate during May, 1972, then succeeded later in the month, installing wiretaps and photographing documents.

      The Plumbers then failed twice to break in to George McGovern’s headquarters, according to Olson, and also broke into the Embassy of Chile, trying to make it appear to the FBI that all the break-ins were the work of the CIA. Liebovich writes that Charles Colson, who compiled an “enemies list” for Nixon, later said in a taped Oval Office conversation that listening devices had been planted in McGovern’s headquarters, and the offices of Gary Hart, the McGovern campaign chair. The final break-in at the Watergate, on June 17, ended with the discovery and arrest of James W. McCord, Jr., CREEP’s security coordinator, along with the four Cuban exiles recruited by Hunt. The burglars later said they thought they were “looking for evidence that Fidel Castro’s government had made contributions to the Democrats.”

      Another disturbing trend was the increased use of cabinet officers as political operatives in the 1972 campaign. For example, at one point, the Secretary of State, William Rogers, was convinced by White House staff to say that Muskie had sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks. Despite a New York Times editorial attack on Rogers, Haldeman later noted in his diary that Muskie generally suffered at the polls.

      The real proof which led the entire bipartisan House judiciary committee, all but two members of the House at large, and 65% of the American people, to support the impeachment of Nixon, was the release of a secret tape of a discussion between Nixon and Haldeman. The so-called “smoking gun” tape, recorded on June 23, contains a discussion of how to get the CIA to call off the FBI investigation of the June 17 Watergate break-in.

      Nixon attempted for a long time to not release the incriminating tapes to the House Judiciary Committee. He refused after a thirty-three-to-three vote by the Committee in April, 1974, and only released them in early August after a July 24 ruling, in which the Supreme Court ruled eight-to-zero that Nixon must release the subpoenaed tapes. He finally did on August 5, after which all the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee announced their intent to vote for impeachment (August 6). Two days later, Nixon announced his resignation, which took place the next day.

      President Nixon had won re-election in 1972 using what Liebovich called a “public relations and press control blitz.” He had presented a public persona that the nation, reeling from the disastrous Vietnam conflict and the damaging Pentagon Papers, genuinely wanted to believe in. In Nixon, they saw a return to the calm of the 1950’s, and a new era of politics centered around something other than war. As Liebovich said, “that is why Watergate so devastated America.”

      A country unwilling to stomach another betrayal by its government had to witness the exposure of not an accidental abuse or miscarriage of power, but a calculated cover-up, which led all the way to the very top of the Executive Branch. The impact of Watergate was the loss of trust in government, that was hardly helped by President Ford’s pardon of Nixon less than a month after the resignation. But America also gained from the painful experience: It learned to be skeptical of its leaders, and it was made aware of the vital role freedom of the press plays in safeguarding the people from government.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 

“Transcript of a recording of a meeting between the President and H.R. Haldeman in the Oval Office on June 23, 1972, from 10:04 to 11:39 AM.” Nixon Presidential Materials. <http://nixon.archives.gov/find/tapes/Watergate /trial/exhibit_01.pdf>. Accessed May 13, 2008.

Alexander, Herbert E. Financing the 1972 Election. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1976.

Bernstein, Carl and Woodward, Bob. All the Presidents Men. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978.

Liebovich, Louis W. Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Press. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 2003.

Olson, Keith W. Watergate: The Presidential Scandal that Shook America. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003.