Ramos also has demonstrated a taste for media myth.
In a commentary posted yesterday at the online site of AM, a newspaper in Mexico, Ramos invoked the myth that the Washington Post brought down the corrupt presidency of Richard Nixon in its reporting of the Watergate scandal.
He wrote, according to the Google translation from Spanish, that among “the best examples of journalism” was the Washington Post’s “forcing Nixon to resign” in 1974.
Ramos made a similar claim on the ABC News “This Week” program Sunday, stating:
“I think that, as a reporter, many times, you have to take a stand. … And the best examples of journalism that I have — Edward R. Murrow against McCarthy; Cronkite during the Vietnam War, or the Washington Post reporters forcing the resignation of Richard Nixon — that’s when reporters challenge those who are in power.”
Of course, though, the Post did not force Nixon’s resignation.
Not even principals at the Post during the Watergate period embraced that notion.
For example, the Post’s publisher during Watergate, Katharine Graham, said 1997:
“Sometimes people accuse us of bringing down a president, which of course we didn’t do. The processes that caused [Nixon’s] resignation were constitutional.”
Bradlee was referring to the White House audio tapes which Nixon secretly made and which revealed the president’s guilty role in seeking to thwart the FBI’s investigation into the break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington in June 1972. The break-in touched off the scandal — and the country’s gravest political crisis of the 20th century.
As I discussed in my media-mythbusting book, Getting It Wrong:
“How the Post and its reporters uncovered Watergate is deeply ingrained in American journalism as one of the field’s most important and self-reverential stories.”
But it is a simplistic and decidedly misleading interpretation, one that minimizes the more powerful and decisive forces that unraveled the scandal and ended Nixon’s corrupt presidency.
“To roll up a scandal of” the dimensions of Watergate, I wrote in Getting It Wrong, “required the collective if not always the coordinated forces of special prosecutors, federal judges, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the Justice Department and the FBI.
“Even then, Nixon likely would have served out his term if not for the audiotape recordings he secretly made of most conversations in the Oval Office of the White House.”
Only when compelled by the Supreme Court did Nixon surrender those recordings — effectively ending his presidency.
More from Media Myth Alert:
- The heroic-journalist myth of Watergate
- The Woodward-Bernstein stories that ‘toppled’ Nixon: And they were?
- Who chased Nixon from office? Not Woodward, Bernstein
- NYTimes Mag and the heroic-journalist myth of Watergate
- No, Politico: WaPo didn’t bring down Nixon
- The Post ‘took down a president’? That’s a myth
- WaPo ‘didn’t like Nixon’ and that’s ‘how we got Watergate’: Huh?
- ‘Follow the money’: A made-up Watergate line
- What was Rush Limbaugh talking about?
- Mythmaking in Moscow: Biden says WaPo brought down Nixon
- Watergate made boring
- ‘A debunker’s work is never done’
- About that Hearst quote on public’s fondness for entertainment
- WSJ columnist, trying to explain Trump, trips over Cronkite-Johnson myth
- Check out The 1995 Blog
- ‘Commentary’ reviews ‘Getting It Wrong’