Watergate Papers Made Public for the First Time
They have still protected the identity of their source known as “Deep Throat.”
Their four-year investigative reporting of the burglary of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington and its subsequent cover-up led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.
The papers went on display at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which acquired the materials in 2003 for $5 million.
More than 75 document boxes now open to the public contain almost all their work during the investigation, including more than 250 notebooks, handwritten and typed notes of the interviews, memos of phone conversations, story drafts, research documents, correspondence and margin notes.
“The process of reporting is piecing what someone said with what someone else said,” Woodward noted. “Every week or day something new was astonishing.”
The names of Deep Throat– the anonymous source who helped the reporters tie the burglary to the Nixon re-election committee– and dozens of other still-living anonymous sources will remain secret until their deaths, as Woodward and Bernstein had promised them. As those sources die, more documents revealing their identities will be released at the exhibit.
“Whatever word is given to sources, that is the coin of our realm,” Bernstein said, according to the Daily Texan.
The materials in the Woodward-Bernstein Watergate Archive do reveal for the first time the identities of almost 100 deceased Watergate sources, including Sen. Barry Goldwater and lawyers J. Fred Buzhardt and James D. St. Clair.
“I think one of the things that this shows is that many of our sources were lawyers who worked for Nixon, or key Republicans,” Woodward said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “The information we got was coming from people who had firsthand knowledge.”
President Nixon’s closest aides were worried about his involvement in the criminal Watergate cover-up and his shaky psychological state near the end of his administration, Woodward told the Washington Post.
The journalists sold their Watergate documents to UT because, they said, they feel it is important for the public to be able to examine everything for themselves, while respecting the privacy of living anonymous sources.
“We ought to be held at least accountable to history and what happened and why we did this and how it proceeded,” Woodward said. “We think it will show care, but we also made mistakes, which we’ve acknowledged. Any people may find both more care and more mistakes.”
Their arrangement with UT also created a $500,000 endowment at the university designated for further research on the Watergate archive and journalistic ethics.