When President Donald Trump does something typically Trumpian, for example, an agitated phone call to the Georgia Secretary of State asking him to do something about voter fraud, what’s the media’s go-to?
Reflexively, they eye their ferris wheel Rolodex, find the dog-eared, yellowed card, reach for the Bakelite rotary phone and dial … Carl Bernstein.
The reporter, who made his bones working with Bob Woodward and a disgruntled FBI informant to bring down Richard Nixon, is now called upon at every turn to confer judgment of Trump’s latest rant and affix the title “worse than Watergate.”
It’s a cottage industry for Bernstein. If John Dean hadn’t beaten him to it, you can bet that Bernstein would have written the book, “Worse Than Watergate,” by now.
Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has been watching this phenomenon for years and 2021 is shaping up to be just another year that Carl Bernstein calls Donald Trump “worse than Watergate.” Again.
CNN predictably called on the old scribe to confer the status of “worse than Watergate” on the Trump phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Adams said, “Of course it is. Everything is.”
Bernstein did not disappoint. “This was something far worse than Watergate.”
Of course it is. Everything is. https://t.co/WYzfjEi25S
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) January 4, 2021
Seems like it. In fact, Bernstein thinks just about everything Trump does is “worse than Watergate.”
Bernstein said it was “worse than Watergate” or words to that effect in July of 2020. Bernstein, whom CNN host Chris Cuomo called his “big brother,” declared that Trump’s response to the pandemic showed he was unfit to be president.
Bernstein said Republicans needed to surround the president and tell him to get out of office [like Republicans did for Richard Nixon], “someone needs to do this,” he insisted.
He went on “Good Morning Britain” and told Piers Morgan that Trump was “near sadistic.” That sounds way “worse than Watergate.”
In 2019 Bernstein didn’t need to say Trump’s situation was “worse than Watergate,” because it was understood due to the fact that the president was a Russian sleeper agent and spy. “Oh, my God … he has become a witting, unwitting, or half-witting pawn … to Vladimir Putin,” intoned Bernstein. Which would definitely make it worse than Watergate. If it were true. Sadly, for Bernstein, it was not.
When President Trump said on Twitter that NBC and CNN should fire the people in charge of the news because they were committing journalistic malpractice, it was “worse than Watergate.” Trump even singled out Carl Bernstein for firing. Fox News reported at the time that Bernstein called Trump “authoritarian,” said his tenure is “worse than Watergate,” and that “this is the greatest journalistic challenge of the modern era, to report on a malignant presidency.”
Bernstein called out the Trump presidency as “worse than Watergate” less than a year into office when he alluded to Trump being a Russian secret agent.
“We’re dealing with a situation that appears to be a real feeling that is worse than Watergate in many, many ways, in the sense that we have a president of the United States who lies about almost anything.”
Bernstein also brought up the specter of Watergate after Trump fired FBI chief James Comey, an assessment heartily ratified by Jeffrey Toobin. Ahem.
I think this is a potentially more dangerous situation than Watergate and we’re at a very dangerous moment. And that’s because we are looking at the possibility that the President of the United States and those around him during an election campaign colluded with a hostile foreign power to undermine the basis of our democracy: free elections.
Politico reminds us that the Democrats in the media used to say George W. Bush’s presidency was “worse than Watergate,” but they’ve just begun inserting Trump’s name.
Indeed, Politico noted that Republicans do this too. They call out things President Obama did, such as literally spying on reporters, for example, as “worse than Watergate” to get Democrat attention.
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.
It seems nobody’s listening anymore.
Perhaps the “worse than Watergate” mantle should go the way of Hitler references. Under the made-up online Godwin’s Law, the first person to mention Hitler loses the argument. Perhaps we ought to begin a new “Adams Law” for Scott Adams. The first one to mention Watergate – looking at you, Carl – has to pack up the hubris and shuffle home.
Victoria Taft is the host of “The Adult in the Room Podcast With Victoria Taft” where you can hear her series on “Antifa Versus Mike Strickland.” Find it here. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, MeWe, Minds @VictoriaTaft