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Dirty Tricks Are Only More Sophisticated 50 Years after Watergate

Posted on Monday, June 13, 2022
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by Outside Contributor
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17 Comments
Watergate

Police arrested five men breaking into the Watergate complex 50 years ago on June 17 in Washington. The burglars were operatives of President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. Their mission: to tap phones and steal documents from the Democratic National Committee, which had its headquarters in the Watergate.

The operation was planned and supervised by G. Gordon Liddy, a former FBI agent who was the general counsel of the president’s campaign. He financed the caper with campaign funds. Liddy and the burglars were criminally charged and convicted. Others who participated in the subsequent cover-up orchestrated by the White House included John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s adviser for domestic affairs.

The investigation of the attempted Watergate break-in by a select committee chaired by Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina eventually led to the White House audiotapes, the infamous 18-minute gap and House Judiciary Committee approval of three articles of impeachment. Nixon resigned August 8, 1974, to avoid a vote by the House and a potential impeachment trial in the Senate.

A month later, President Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, saying his action was intended to end a “long national nightmare” and a disruptive scandal that had polarized the public. He feared that potential litigation against the former president would arouse “ugly passions” and challenge the “credibility of our free institutions of government … at home and abroad.”

So have things gotten better since then? Liddy and his fellow coconspirators were driven by political objectives — to find out everything they could about what the Democratic Party was doing and to get information that they could use to sabotage George McGovern’s presidential campaign. But they got caught because of their ineptness.

Compare that to what we now know happened in the 2016 presidential campaign. The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign — using campaign lawyers, an opposition research firm and allies in the press — orchestrated a smear campaign against Donald Trump. The concocted hoax about his supposed collusion with the Russian government continued well into his presidency.

The Clinton campaign didn’t have to engage bumbling burglars for a risky wiretapping scheme. Instead, as the special counsel, the Justice Department’s inspector general and the John Durham investigation have revealed, they created a salacious “dossier” rife with phony claims. They also enlisted the help of a technology executive and university researchers with government cybersecurity contracts to secretly scoop up internet communications data from Trump both during the campaign and from the White House itself after he became president.

The sophistication of this conspiracy makes Gordon Liddy look like an amateur.

Even the FBI got entangled in this dirty political trick, leading the nation’s most powerful law enforcement agency to abuse its authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on people connected to the opposition presidential campaign. This, in turn, led to the expensive, unjustified two-year investigation by Special Counsel Bob Mueller that baselessly hampered Trump (and his advisers) in carrying out his presidential duties.

In 1972, Nixon’s dirty trick failed, and Liddy and his coconspirators all went to prison. The Clinton campaign’s dirty trick failed to win the election. Still, it succeeded in hobbling the Trump presidency and corrupting the Justice Department. Yet no one has gone to prison as a result of what happened in 2016. The cover-up was so successful we didn’t even know about the illegal spying and the politicization of the Justice Department until well after it occurred — and the dirty deed was done.

So what have we learned in the 50 years since Watergate? Dirty tricksters in politics have become more adept at hiding what they are doing, abusing advances in technology to further their dishonest ends, weaponizing federal law enforcement agencies against their political opponents, and using their friends in the media to ensure they are successful.

Americans deserve better. And unfortunately, the dirty tricks in presidential campaigns have done precisely what Gerald Ford feared: raised “ugly passions,” polarized the electorate and damaged the “credibility of our free institutions of government … at home and abroad.”

Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He wrote this for InsideSources.com

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Jerry Tervol
Jerry Tervol
1 year ago

The dirty tricks are not sophisticated they are openly played out in a complicit media. This is the new norm. We need to flush the swamp. They don’t care if you know about their corruption, they know you can’t do anything.

Morbious
Morbious
1 year ago

The clintons have had thirty years to amass a shadow empire of dirty money and slimy operatives. There’re many layers between them and their agents. Thus it is way more difficult to get at them than it was to tie the watergate event to nixon.

Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis
1 year ago

We all know that, as things actually are, many of the most influential and most highly remunerated members of the Bar in every center of wealth, make it their special task to work out bold and ingenious schemes by which their wealthy clients, individual or corporate, can evade the laws which were made to regulate, in the interests of the public, the uses of great wealth. – T. Roosevelt, 1905

In the words of E.W. Scripps: A newspaper must at all times antagonize the selfish interests of that very class which furnishes the larger part of a newspaper’s income… The press in this country is dominated by the wealthy few…that it cannot be depended upon to give the great mass of the people that correct information concerning political, economical and social subjects which it is necessary that the mass of people Shall have in order that they vote…in the best way to protect themselves from the brutal force and chicanery of the ruling and employing classes – E.W. Scripps – American Newspaper Publisher 1854-1926

The American people don’t believe anything until they see it on television. – Richard M. Nixon

After Watergate, to protect the public from the appearance of corruption, The Federal Election Campaign Act abridged the freedoms of speech press and assembly of the regulated class: candidates for Federal Office, political parties, PACs and individual citizens.

But the corporate media were exempted because government could not infringe their 1st Amendment rights

52 U.S. Code § 30101 – Definitions (9)(B) The term “expenditure” does not include— (i) any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate; – law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/52/30101

This created a “Royal”, “State Approved” press! 

But if candidates and political parties have to pay for time/space in the media, then why are favorable editorials considered to have no value if they are published by corporate media, unless the media is controlled by a political party, political committee, or candidate?

“The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.” -Alex Carey, Australian social scientist who pioneered the investigation of corporate propaganda 

The people will believe what the media tells them they believe. – George Orwell

It is normal for all large businesses to make serious efforts to influence the news, to avoid embarrassing publicity, and to maximize sympathetic public opinion and government policies. Now they own most of the news media that they wish to influence. – Excerpt from Media Monopoly by Ben H. Bagdikian – 1920-2016

In 1983, 90% of American media was owned by 50 companies. In 2011, that same 90% is controlled by 6 companies.

Campaign laws are responsible for the corporate voice having more influence in our elections than the voice of natural persons!

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreicate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. – Frederick Douglass

To restore equal rights to citizens, federal candidates, political parties and PACs “We the People” should ask our representatives in the Senate and House to revisit “S. 2416 — 113th Congress: Free All Speech Act of 2014.” GovTrack.us. 2014. June 15, 2022 govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s2416

113th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2416

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 3, 2014

Mr. Cruz introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

A BILL

To apply laws that restrict the political speech of American citizens to media corporations.

1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the Free All Speech Act of 2014 .

2. Application of laws that restrict the political speech of American citizens to media corporations
(a) In general
Any law that restricts the political speech of American citizens shall apply with equal force to media corporations, such as the New York Times, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and the CBS Television Network.

(b) No application to American citizens if application to media corporations found unconstitutional
To the extent that the application of a law to a media corporation under subsection (a) is found unconstitutional, such law shall have no force or effect with respect to American citizens.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
1 year ago

Compared to Barry O and Slow Joe, Nixon was a saint! At least he wasn’t working with foreign agents!

Harry
Harry
1 year ago

Dan W. Did you forget the Democrats cry for help?? They used the Pandemic as an excuse to add ballot boxes and mail in vote for all, not who mail in votes were meant for !!

Bill T
Bill T
1 year ago

We now have a president that actually admitted that the election was rigged, and of course the leftist media covered it up, what these deceitful democrats did to our elections is terrifying. All because of a loophole with mail in and every other method of cheating and stealing the election during a medical crisis.Wonder what PLANDEMIC is in store for us in late September?

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