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Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History (2003)

TV-PG | | Documentary, Crime, History | TV Movie
A look back, from 30 years later, at the Watergate break-in and the fall of Richard Nixon's presidency.


Foster Wiley


Sherry Jones
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Credited cast:
Will Lyman ... Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Howard Baker ... Self
Carl Bernstein ... Self
Ben Bradlee ... Self
Alexander Butterfield ... Self
Charles Colson ... Self (archive footage)
Archibald Cox ... Self (archive footage)
Sam Dash ... Self (as Samuel Dash)
John Dean ... Self
John Ehrlichman ... Self (archive footage)
Daniel Ellsberg ... Self (archive footage)
Sam Ervin ... Self (archive footage)
Leonard Garment Leonard Garment ... Self
Alexander Haig ... Self (archive footage)
H.R. Haldeman ... Self (archive footage)


This documentary reviews the events and outcomes of what has simply been known as Watergate. On June 17, 1972 a group of burglars were arrested trying to bug the telephones at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate office complex. For over two years, the story of the Watergate break-in and the ensuing cover up dominated U.S. political life. It eventually led to the resignation of Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States in August 1974 when recorded conversations revealed that he had been less than honest with the public and had been an active participant in the cover-up. Written by garykmcd

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Features All the President's Men (1976) See more »

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Outstanding Frontline-like Documentary Takes Us Behind the Scenes of the Nixon White House as Never Before
26 November 2008 | by classicalsteveSee all my reviews

In the 1976 feature film, "All the President's Men", based on the book by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Robert Redford (as Woodward) says to undercover informant "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook), "All we've got are pieces. We can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like." To which Holbrook replies with the infamous line "Follow the money." I have been fascinated with Watergate for going on 25 years. I had read several books on the subject and seen other documentaries and movies. But even after 30 years prior to this film, the exact picture of the Nixon administration scandal was never quite complete in my mind. "Watergate Plus 30" fills in all the missing pieces and offers just about as clear a picture of one of the strangest episodes in American political theatre.

What fills in much of the gaps are the interviews with surviving members of the Nixon administration who were solicited for this project. John Dean, Jeb McGruder, Alexander Butterfield, Hugh Sloan, and Bud Krogh, all members of the Nixon White House who were involved in the cover-up, disclose the mind of Richard Nixon in terms of the Watergate scandal. And they affirm what Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward had been imparting all along: that the actual Watergate Break-in was only the tip of the iceberg of a huge mosaic of criminal and immoral activity against people Richard Nixon had named as "political enemies".

The documentary discloses not just the how, which is widely known, but the why of Richard Nixon's fanatical obsession with political enemies. As one interviewee points out, there is a significant difference between an opponent and an enemy. Nixon, however, believed they were one and the same. If someone disagreed with Nixon's policies and the means to voice that opinion on a large scale was available to that individual, such as a leader of the anti-war movement, or a political leader of the opposing party, they became an enemy of the administration in Nixon's mind. And these individuals were put on a list to be targeted, sometimes with violent intentions. The president's condoning and encouraging criminal acts against political opponents was his downfall, and this documentary, through the voices of those that worked with him and his two top aids, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman.

In a very ironic twist, the documentary shows the poignant speech given to his staff before his departure from the White House by helicopter. He advises his staff that hating people that hate you leads to destruction. I think Nixon honestly believed, prior to Watergate, that he was hated by political opponents, despite having won a sweeping victory in 1972. Prior to the scandal, many people probably hated many of his policies but probably did not hate him as a person. He earned their hate when the scandal became subject to public scrutiny.

A couple of months after his resignation, a former aid visits him. Nixon asks him if he should plead guilty. The former aid inquires if the former president feels guilty. The response was no. Nixon still did not understand, maybe to his grave, that what he did was wrong. This documentary explains to the best of its ability why Nixon lost his presidency, and why his loss of power was justifiable. There is only a hint as to whether present and future administrations will learn the lessons of Watergate. Or, has the public learned the lessons of Watergate, and will they learn not to tolerate unethical and criminal acts by the person who holds the highest elected office of the United States.

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