Daytime TV

Daytime TV: History Repeats. Observations by Mary E. Latela, February 18, 2017

In this period of 24/7 news coverage, we may have forgotten that we used to have 15 to 30 minutes of “nightly news.” Exceptions were rare, such as the coronation of Elizabeth, queen on England in 1952, or the landing on the moon in 1969.

The Watergate scandal and the TV coverage in the summer of 1973 satiated my desire to know what happened in D.C. that weekend in June of 1972. I watched the transmission first hand, and specifically, one moment which seemed to halt history. Watergate has entered the political lexicon as a term synonymous with corruption and scandal, but that was not the only event like this.

The Senate Committee to investigate the Watergate scandal went on during the summer of 1973. For me, the most stunning information came on a sultry day in July. During prep on Friday, July 13, 1973, one of the lawyers asked WH assistant Alexander Butterfield whether there was any type of recording system in the WH. Butterfield was reluctant to respond.

“On Monday, July 16, 1973, in front of a live, televised audience, chief minority counsel Fred Thompson asked Butterfield whether he was ‘aware of the installation of any listening devices in the Oval Office of the President.’ Butterfield said it was so. This is the gasp heard around the world/country/town/family. The saga moves on as the President tried to use executive privilege to refuse to hand over the tapes, eventually resigning from Office. (wiki)

As a footnote, some of the perpetrators attempted to blame the crimes on Cubans (scapegoating/immigrants,etc.)

I am not trying to make light of political activity. I am disappointed at the contemporary tendency toward ugliness, narrowness, unwillingness to “play the tapes,” to learn the truth and try to work at making life better for every person. I am not comparing today’s political storms with Watergate except to notice that there are similarities when democracy is invaded by egotism, and other evil tendencies.

btw, “The Hill” reports that Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward, scrutinized the Watergate activities, tweeted today: the “true enemy of the people is presidential lying…”

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