all the men and women of this scandal

Books, television series and exhibitions these days remember this case that ended the Presidency of Richard Nixon

Woodward, Bernstein, Mitchell, Liddy, Felt… Fifty years after Watergate, the names of its protagonists remain in the collective memory of the United Statesalthough there are many more who had something to do with the scandal that ended the presidency of Richard Nixon.

They are all men, but also some women, from Watergate.

When this week marks half a century of raid on the offices of the Democratic Party that unleashed that crisisThe country remembers that moment in many ways.

Books, television series, exhibitions delve not only into the best known nameslike Nixon himself or Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -the journalists of the Washington Post who uncovered the scandal-, also in many other protagonists, volunteers or not, of that time.

The portraits of many of them hang these days in the National Portrait Museum in Washington, in the exhibition Watergate: Portrait and Intrigue, which reviews what happened. And it is also, as the curator of the exhibition and historian of this Smithsonian museum, Kate Clarke, points out to Efe, a tribute to journalism, without which Watergate would have remained an apparently minor event -the raid on the offices of the Democratic National Committee- without political consequences.

Magazine Time dedicated numerous covers to Watergate, some of which can be seen in this exhibitionn. They are iconic images that define Nixon and those who governed with him very well.

The “palace guard”

So it is with the “palace guard”. Nixon and his four confidants appear in a collage made from the presidential seal and which tries to show, as Clarke pointed out, that this group of advisers and senior officials kept Nixon “isolated” and away from reality and from Public opinion.

That “guard” was made up of Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, Attorney General John Mitchell, and adviser John Ehlrichman.

All but Kissinger ended up serving time for conspiracy and obstruction of justice. -for trying to cover up the event and its relationship with the White House-.

Another cartoon that was the cover of Timewith several of the advisers surrounding Nixon and pointing at each other and surrounded in turn by cables, shows how even the most faithful ceased to be so when they found themselves with water up to their necks and chose to expose and accuse.

The drama of John and Martha Mitchell

Of all of them, John Mitchell is considered the “mastermind” of Watergate. He headed the president’s re-election committee and, as Clarke reminds Efe, dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars to numerous illegal operations, including wiretaps and microphones like the ones they planned to install in Democratic offices.

Another of the covers dedicated to Mitchell presents him in a bust made with a bottle of bleach in which he covers his hand with his mouth. He wouldn’t be the one to say anything that could hurt his boss.

Quite the opposite of his wife, Martha Mitchell, who knew much – or all there was to know – about Watergate and as Kate Clarke reminds Efe, she had every intention of telling the press.

In the days following the search and arrest of the suspects, was held for several days against her will by a former FBI agent that she worked for her husband and prevented her from speaking to journalists.

Though he didn’t shut up afterwards. Even Nixon himself said in the famous interview with the British journalist David Frost that, Without Martha Mitchell’s testimonies, Watergate would have remained an anecdote.

And recently it has become known that he was also one of Bob Woodward’s sources. Mitchell was thus another “deep throat” like the owner of said nickname, the deputy director of the FBI Mark Felt.

Her figure never ceases to arouse fascination: the actress Julia Roberts plays Mitchell in a television series, Gaslit, also starring Sean Penn.

In the Smithsonian exhibition, Mitchell’s painting hangs opposite that of two other women who, as Kate Clarke points out, also played a role at that moment in history.

The loyal secretary and the passionate congresswoman

On the one hand Nixon’s loyal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who “accidentally” -that claimed- deleted a conversation between Haldeman and Nixon that would have shown that the president had knowledge of the espionage attempt to Democratic offices.

and on the other Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who opened the Committee investigating Watergate with an impassioned speech in which he called on its members to work to find out if the president had engaged in conduct “not condoned by the Constitution.” A mission, that of the legislature, to which this exhibition also gives great importance.

And although at a time like the present, when Congress is investigating the assault on the Capitol“anyone can think that there have been darker moments” in the country’s political history, pointed out to Efe Clarke, this exhibition also seeks to elucidate “what are the limits of presidential power” and “who is responsible for controlling the president”. “Is it Congress? Is it the people? Is it the media?” That is the question.”

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