The Legacy of Watergate…

The Legacy of Watergate…

Photo credit: Creative Commons

To mark the 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, Hollywood on the Potomac looks back at it’s most interesting interviews with the principals starting with Jill Wine, prosecutor. During the Watergate proceedings she cross-examined President Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods about the 18 ½ minute gap on the Watergate tapes.


Photo credit: DCL

We asked her to describe what that experience was like.  “Well remember, at the time I was quite young and we were up against the White House.  We were called the children’s march against the wicked king and so it was really kind of unusual and I would say a little bit scary to take on the President, but we were professional prosecutors and we were just looking for the truth,” she told us at the Washington screening of All The President’s Men Revisted. “I believe we found it. I don’t think without the tapes it would have been quite as persuasive a case as we had, but the tapes really made it completely clear about guilt.”


Rose Mary Woods – Photo credit: Wikipedia

We asked her if she liked or disliked the President and how she felt about those testifying.  “I don’t think a question of like or dislike was ever the question. At the time John Dean to me was almost a machine. He was someone that you asked a question and he gave you an answer. I have since in recent years been doing a lot of speaking about Watergate and John and I have been on panels together so I’ve come to know him as a person. It turns out that he actually lived in Evanston which is where I currently live in Illinois. It’s been interesting to get to know Steve Bull and Alex Butterfield and John Dean, and all those people as real people not as just a witness that you ask a question of.”

The Watergate Scandal

Former White House Counsel John Dean – Photo credit: Authentic History Center

Her background:  “I actually became a lawyer but I wanted to be a journalist. When I graduated with a journalism degree the kind of jobs women were offered were on the woman’s page. I wanted to do political reporting or legal reporting, and so I went to law school thinking that that would make the newspapers take me as a credible source of news. Somehow I found I actually liked practicing law so I stayed with it.”

Life after Watergate: “I would of never have become General Counsel of the Army in the Carter Administration if it weren’t for Watergate. I would of never had that opportunity if I hadn’t had the publicity that came with the Watergate. More importantly, my current husband who was my high school boyfriend, found me through The New York Times. Seeing my picture in The New York Times during Watergate certainly changed my life.


It opened so many doors for me. I think as everybody does that he [Nixon] did some very good things and he did some very bad things. He clearly, despite his comment that “I am not a crook,” was a crook.

He did obstruct justice and he was clearly a leader in pushing the cover up. That kind of wipes out a lot of the good he did. He’s the one that’s responsible for Title IX which helped women get equality in sports, and I think that’s a good thing. China’s a good thing, but you can’t weigh good against bad. When you do bad you deserve to be punished, and I think he certainly got the ultimate punishment in being forced from office.”

Slider photos credit: Janet Donovan