Watergate: Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward in first joint byline for 36 years
FORTY years after the Watergate burglary that forced Richard Nixon to resign, the two reporters who exposed the scandal have said Nixon ran the US presidency like a "criminal enterprise" and was "far worse" than they thought at the time.
In their first joint byline for 36 years, the two Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward used an article to mark the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in to scotch creeping attempts by some former aides and "historical revisionists" to restore Nixon's reputation.
"At its most virulent, Watergate was a brazen and daring assault, led by Nixon himself, against the heart of American democracy: the Constitution, our system of free elections, the rule of law," the two men asserted in a sweeping 4,000-word account of how Nixon turned his White House into a "criminal enterprise".
Woodward and Bernstein said that huge amount of information that has come out in the four decades since the June 17, 1972, burglary of the Democratic National Committee, had only served to diminish Nixon's reputation.
Detailing Nixon's orders to tap the phones of journalists and officials, the secret pay-offs to buy the silence of those accused in the Watergate break-in and attempts to destroy Edward Kennedy by putting a spy in his Secret Service detail, paint Nixon as a craven, anti-Semite and paranoiac.
Most damning all, the two journalists say, is that reviewing the tapes of Nixon in the Oval Office, they hadn't found a single instance of Nixon talking about the good of the country – but only about himself.
"He is heard talking almost endlessly about what would be good for him, his place in history and, above all, his grudges, animosities and schemes for revenge," the two men write, "The dog that never seems to bark is any discussion of what is good and necessary for the wellbeing of the nation.
Nixon died in 1994 and was controversially pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, after his resignation in August 1974. Nixon went on to try and rehabilitate his reputation with a series of books and foreign trips.
Speaking on CBS News's Face the Nation on Sunday, Woodward and Bernstein said that President Ford had later told them that he had granted the pardon not for Nixon's sake, or for his own, "but for the good the country. We had to get over Watergate."