Slow Burn: Watergate

Season 1: Episode 3

A Very Successful Cover-Up

For a long time, no one cared about Watergate. Why?


Episode Notes

After the Watergate break-in, reporters competed to uncover new details of a possible government conspiracy. Democrats pushed the issue hard. Walter Cronkite devoted special segments of his CBS News show to it.

Why didn’t anyone care?

In the third episode of Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh looks at the indifference with which the public responded to the Watergate affair during the 1972 election campaign.

Read the Episode 3 transcript.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

Nixon’s Dirtiest “Dirty Tricks”

A members-only bonus episode.

Notes on Episode 3


Bernstein, Carl and Woodward, Bob. All the President’s Men: 40th Anniversary Edition, Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Broder, David S. Behind the Front Page, Simon & Schuster, 1987.

Dash, Sam. Chief Counsel: Inside the Ervin Committee—the Untold Story of Watergate, Random House, 1976.

Dean, John. Blind Ambition: The White House Years, Open Road Media, 2016 (originally published 1976).

Emery, Fred. Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard NixonTimes Books, 1994.

Kutler, Stanley. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon. W. W. Norton, 1992.

Lang, Gladys Engel and Lang, Kurt. The Battle for Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls During Watergate. Columbia University Press, 1983.

Lukas, J. Anthony. Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years. Viking Press, 1976.

Perlstein, Rick. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Schell, Jonathan. The Time of Illusion, Vintage, 1976.

Stahl, Lesley. Reporting Live, Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Sussman, Barry. The Great Cover-Up: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, 4th ed., Catapulter Books, 2010 (originally published 1974).

News articles

Bagdikian, Ben. “The Fruits of Agnewism,” Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 1973.

Bernstein, Carl and Woodward, Bob. “FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats,” Washington Post, Oct. 10, 1972.

Lukas, J. Anthony. “The Story So Far: Dirty Tricks,” New York Times Magazine, July 22, 1973.

Noah, Timothy. “‘Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion’: The Unlikely Source of a Legendary Smear,” The New Republic, Oct. 22, 2012.

Sperling, Godfrey Jr., “Credibility Is Watergate Problem,” The Daily Messenger, Nov. 2, 1972.

Witcover, Jules. “ ‘Canuck’ Episode: A ‘72 Dirty Trick,” Washington Post, Sept. 23, 1973.

Colson Says President Threw Ashtray in Anger,” New York Times, July 29, 1974.

Episode 3 makes use of archival footage from the following sources:

NBC Nightly News, 2/26/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 10/12/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 10/16/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 9/13/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 8/09/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 9/29/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 2/21/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 9/13/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

White House Press Briefing, 10/25/1972 (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library)

NBC Nightly News, 6/20/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 9/07/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, 10/25/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

CBS Evening News, 10/31/72 (courtesy of CBS/Wazee)

CBS Election Special, 11/7/72 (courtesy of CBS/Wazee)

Watergate Trial Tapes, November 1972 (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library)

Watergate: Scapegoat, Episode 3, 1994 (courtesy of BBC/Getty)

NBC Nightly News, 3/23/1972 (courtesy of the NBC news archive)

Slow Burn’s theme song is “Back to the Old House” by Niklas Ahlström. Other music in Episode 3 includes “F.O.” by Jahzzar and “Clean Soul” by Kevin MacLeod.

Season one of Slow Burn was produced by Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons. Bonus episodes for the season were produced by Leon Neyfakh and Jeff Friedrich.


About the Show

You think you know the story, or maybe you don’t. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down President Nixon? Find out on this eight-episode podcast miniseries hosted by Leon Neyfakh. Made possible by Slate Plus members.

Read Leon Neyfakh’s introduction to Season 1.

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