“Gavel-to-Gavel”: The Watergate Scandal and Public Television

Additional Resources

Joseph Papin. [Senator Sam Ervin points his finger], 1973. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-DIG-ppmsca-53335.
Joseph Papin. [Senator Sam Ervin points his finger], 1973. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. LC-DIG-ppmsca-53335.

If you simply can’t get enough of Watergate, there is even more content to watch and read. For the interested visitor, this author recommends the following public television documentaries and video content: Bill Moyers’s Essay on Watergate (1973), Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings (1983), “Covering Watergate: 40 Years Later with MacNeil and Lehrer” (2013), and Dick Cavett’s Watergate (2014). If you, like MacNeil and Lehrer, prefer to draw your own conclusions, both the Nixon Presidential Library and the Ford Presidential Library have extensive online primary source collections including scans of key documents and recordings of the Oval Office tapes. You can also access the full report produced by the Senate Select Committee here.

For scholars looking for more in-depth resources, especially on the history of Watergate and public broadcasting, please see the listed content below.

Other Online Exhibits

"The Watergate Files." The Gerald R. Ford Library & Museum. Accessed June 30, 2017. https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/museum/exhibits/Watergate_files/index.html.

Public Television Documentaries and Interviews

Bill Moyers Journal. "Essay on Watergate." WNET, Written by Bill Moyers. Produced by Jerome Toobin and Martin Clancy. Directed by Jack Sameth, first broadcast October 31, 1973. Accessed June 12, 2017. https://vimeo.com/44242486. Transcript can be found at: http://billmoyers.com/content/essay-watergate/

"Covering Watergate: 40 Years Later with MacNeil and Lehrer." Video file, 16:07. PBS NewsHour. May 17, 2013. Accessed June 9, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/covering-watergate-40-years-later-with-macneil-and-lehrer.

Dick Cavett's Watergate. Thirteen/WNET New York. August 8, 2014. Accessed June 26, 2017. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets/dick-cavetts-watergate-full-episode/1880/.

Firing Line. http://www.hoover.org/library-archives/collections/firing-line. Many of the broadcasts and most of the transcripts from interviews with those involved with Watergate are available through the Hoover Institution’s website.

"How Nixon Tested the U.S. Government and Changed Its Relationship to the American People." Video file, 17:41. PBS NewsHour. August 7, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/nixon.

Scuiletti, Justin. "A Look Back at the Senate Watergate Hearings." Video file, 16:33. PBS NewsHour. May 17, 2013. Accessed June 9, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/a-look-back-at-the-senate-watergate-hearings.

Summer of Judgment – The Watergate Hearings, WETA, produced by Ricki Green, directed by Mary Frances Sirianne, first broadcast July 27, 1983, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_512-mc8rb6ww1z; http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_512-gm81j9840b.

Primary Sources and Archives

The American Presidency Project compiled by John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, University of California, Santa Barbara. This site is "the leading source of presidential documents on the internet" and contains many essential documents and transcripts from the Nixon Presidency.

Broadcasting Magazine Digital Archives This website has digitized copies of many historical media-related journals and magazines.

Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. Public Television: A Program for Action. New York: Harper & Row, 1967.

The Samuel Dash Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The James Karayn Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers: A Summary, 1969-1974. Washington, DC: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, 1979. A copy can be found at the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS), Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Presidential Campaign Activities of 1972, Senate Resolution 60; Hearings before the Select Committee of Presidential Campaign Activities of the United States Senate Ninety-Third Congress, S. Doc. No. 93, 1-2, at 12966 (1973-1974).

Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, The Final Report of the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, United States Senate, pursuant to S. Res. 60, February 7, 1973: A Resolution to Establish a Select Committee of the Senate to Investigate and Study Illegal or Improper Campaign Activities in the Presidential Election of 1972., S. Rep. No. 93-93-981, 2d Sess., at 1250 (1974). Accessed June 15, 2017. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011697870;view=1up;seq=15.

The John J. Sirica Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Watergate: Chronology of a Crisis. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1973.

Watergate: Chronology of a Crisis. Vol. 2. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1974.

Watergate: Chronology of a Crisis. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 1975.

"Watergate Trial Conversations." Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. Accessed August, 20 2018. https://www.nixonlibrary.gov/watergate-trial-tapes.

The Clay Thomas Whitehead Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. These papers have also been digitized and are available online at: http://www.claytwhitehead.com/

The Ronald L. Ziegler Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

In addition, the National Archives and Records Administration has extensive materials relating to Watergate.


Ambrose, Stephen E. Nixon: Ruin and Recovery. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

Bernstein, Carl, and Bob Woodward. All the President's Men. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2006.

Day, James. The Vanishing Vision: The Inside Story of Public Television. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995.

Engelman, Ralph. Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1996.

Jarvik, Laurence Ariel. PBS, Behind the Screen. Rocklin, CA: Forum, 1997.

Liebovich, Louis. Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the Press: A Historical Retrospective. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

MacNeil, Robert. The Right Place at the Right Time. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, 1982.

Moyers, Bill D. The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis: With Excerpts from "An Essay on Watergate." Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press, 1988.

Ouellette, Laurie. Viewers like You?: How Public TV Failed the People. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Patterson, James T. Grand Expectations: United States, 1945-74. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Porter, William Earl. Assault on the Media: The Nixon Years. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1976.

Stone, David M. Nixon and the Politics of Public Television. New York, NY: Garland Pub., 1985.

Witherspoon, John, and Roselle Kovitz. The History of Public Broadcasting. Washington, DC: Current, 1987.

Journal Articles

Aufderheide, Patricia. "Public Television and the Public Sphere." Critical Studies in Mass Communication 8, no. 2 (June 1991): 168-83. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15295039109366789.

Avery, Robert K. "PBS's Station Program Cooperative: A Political Experiment." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL, April 1975. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED111037.pdf.

Avery, Robert K., and Robert Pepper. “An Institutional History of Public Broadcasting.” Journal of Communications 30, no.3 (Summer 1980): 126-38.

Baran, Stanley J., and Dennis K. Davis. "The Audience of Public Television: Did Watergate Make a Difference?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism, San Diego, CA, August 1974. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED095577.pdf.

Fletcher, James E. "Commercial versus Public Television Audiences: Public Activities and the Watergate Hearings." Communication Quarterly 25, no. 4 (Fall 1977): 13-16. https://search.proquest.com/docview/63868134?accountid=12084.

Garay, Ronald Gene. "Factors Related to Congressional Television Implementation: A Legislative History of Television Coverage of U.S. House and Senate Committee Hearings, Meetings and Deliberative Chamber Sessions 1955-1979." PhD diss., Ohio University, 1980. https://search.proquest.com/docview/303059004?accountid=12084.

LeRoy, David J., and Florida State Univ., Tallahassee. Communication Research Center. Public Television Viewer and Watergate Hearings. Compiled by Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Washington, DC. Tallahassee, FL, 1974. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED101705.pdf.

Shorenstein, Stuart Alan. "Does Public Television Have a Future?" The Wilson Quarterly 5, no. 1 (Winter 1981): 66-75. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40256043.

Zimmer, Troy A. "The Impact of Watergate on the Public's Trust in People and Confidence in the Mass Media." Social Science Quarterly 59, no. 4 (March 1979): 743-51. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42860478.


Herbert L. Block (Herblock) Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The editorial cartoons displayed on this website are Herblock drawings from the Library's collection with permission from the Herblock Foundation.

Joseph Papin Courtroom Illustration Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The hearing room sketches displayed on this website are Papin drawings from the Library's collection and are in the public domain.