August 31, 2019

ANDREW KLAVAN: ‘Watergate’ Doesn’t Mean What the Press Thinks It Means.

Recently, reading Mark Levin’s Unfreedom of the Press, I was reminded that, before reporters went on their great crusade against Richard Nixon, they had overlooked a whole lot of corruption in the Democrat presidents who preceded him.

Levin tells how John F. Kennedy, with the knowledge of his brother and Attorney General Robert, nudged the IRS into auditing conservative groups. With Kennedy approval, the FBI was also employed to investigate those the administration disliked, including Martin Luther King Jr. Lyndon Baines Johnson would later increase the politically motivated auditing and spying. None of this was uncovered until later on.

Ben Bradlee — the editor of the Washington Post, where Woodward and Bernstein broke the Watergate story — was well aware of his pal Kennedy’s misuse of the tax and investigative agencies. Not only did he not report it, he allowed himself and his paper to be manipulated by information JFK had wrongly obtained.

This totally changes the Watergate narrative. Nixon’s dirty tricks and enemy lists may have been creepy and wrong, but the press exposure of these misdemeanors came after years of ignoring similar and worse malfeasance by Democrat administrations.

That changes what Watergate means. That transforms it from a heroic crusade into a political hit job, Democrat hackery masquerading as nobility. The press turned a blind eye to the corruption of JFK and LBJ, then raced to overturn the election of a man they despised—despised in part because he battled the Communism many of them had espoused.

What is it Karl Marx said: History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce?

Read the whole thing. While the left launched Watergate to destroy Nixon, the discovery by the American people that It Didn’t Start With Watergate, as Victor Lasky accurately titled his 1977 book did much to make the distrust of government an “unexpectedly” bipartisan affair in the 1970s. Or as David Frum puts it in his 2000 book How We Got Here: The 70s The Decade That Brought You Modern Life — For Better Or Worse: 

Some blame Watergate for this abrupt collapse of trust in institutions, but not very convincingly. For one thing, the decline in trust begins to appear in the polls as early as 1966, almost a decade before the Watergate was known as anything more than a big hole in the ground alongside the Potomac River. For another, the nation had managed unconcernedly to shrug off Watergate-style events before. Somebody bugged Barry Goldwater’s apartment during the 1964 election without it triggering a national trauma. The Johnson administration tapped the phones of Nixon supporters in 1968, and again nothing happened. John F. Kennedy regaled reporters with intimate details from the tax returns of wealthy Republican donors, and none of the reporters saw anything amiss. FDR used the Federal Bureau of Investigation to spy on opponents of intervention into World War II—and his targets howled without result. If Watergate could so transform the nation’s sense of itself, why did those previous abuses, which were equally well known to the press, not do so? Americans did not lose their faith in institutions because of the Watergate scandal; Watergate became a scandal because Americans were losing faith in their institutions.

Which brings us back to Andrew Klavan’s article above, in which he writes, “History repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce…Like the Nixon takedown, the attacks on Trump come after years of turning a blind eye to the corruption of a Democrat. Obama’s IRS campaign against the Tea Party? His lies about Benghazi? His Fast and Furious fiasco? His shutdown of a massive drug investigation to appease Iran? No big deal. Obama was, as almost every mainstream outlet has declared, ‘scandal free.’”

Read the whole thing.

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