Episode 4 of Slate's podcast about Watergate.

How Watergate Became the Greatest Show on Earth, in Episode 4 of Slow Burn

How Watergate Became the Greatest Show on Earth, in Episode 4 of Slow Burn

A podcast about Watergate.
Dec. 19 2017 9:00 AM

Lie Detectors

How Watergate became the greatest show on Earth.

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In 1973, a folksy segregationist senator, a team of young investigators, and a few whistleblowers staged the hearings that made Watergate must-see TV.

In the fourth episode of Slow Burn, Leon Neyfakh discusses the Senate Watergate Committee’s hearings and explains how the country came to catch Watergate fever.

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Slate Plus members get a bonus episode of Slow Burn every week. This week, Leon Neyfakh talks to Rob Caughlan, the founder of the National Sam Ervin Fan Club. Leon is also joined by Slate writers Henry Grabar and Katy Waldman for a pop-up Watergate book club. They discuss Mask of State: Watergate Portraits by Mary McCarthy.

If you are logged into your Slate Plus account, you can find this week's bonus episode in the player below this paragraph, or find it in your members-only podcast feed. Not yet a member? Click here to join.

Did you live through Watergate? Call our voicemail at 646-665-7382, and tell us what you remember about the scandal. We may use your voicemail on an upcoming episode of the show.

Notes on Episode 4

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Books

Campbell, Karl. Senator Sam Ervin: Last of the Founding Fathers. University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Clancy, Paul. Just a Country Lawyer: A Biography of Senator Sam Ervin. Indiana University Press, 1974.

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Dean, John. Blind Ambition: The White House Years, Open Road Media, 2016 (originally published 1976).

Kutler, Stanley. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon. W.W. Norton, 1992.

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Lang, Gladys Engel and Lang, Kurt. The Battle For Public Opinion: The President, the Press, and the Polls During Watergate. Columbia University Press, 1983.

Lukas, J. Anthony. Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years. Viking Press, 1976.

McCarthy, Mary. The Mask of State: Watergate Portraits. Harvest Books, 1974.

McCord, James. A Piece of Tape: The Watergate Story—Fact and Fiction. Washington Media Services, 1974.

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Perlstein, Rick. The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Scott, Katherine. Reining in the State: Civil Society and Congress in the Vietnam and Watergate Era, University Press of Kansas, 2013.

Sussman, Barry. The Great Cover-Up: Nixon and the Scandal of Watergate, 4th ed., Catapulter Books, 2010 (originally published 1974).

News articles

Alsop, Joseph. “Senate halts justice,” The Daily Chronicle, June 8, 1973.

Cimons, Marlene. “A Case For The Watergate Woozies,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 2, 1973.

“Dean's Case Against the President,” Time, July 9, 1973.

The Gospel According to Senator Sam,” D.C. Gazette, December 1973.

Meyer, Lawrence. “Last Two Guilty in Watergate Plot,” Washington Post, Jan. 31, 1973.

Perry, Charles. “Sermon on the Hill: A Sam Ervin Sampler,” Rolling Stone, Sept. 13, 1973.

“Uncle Sam,” The Nation, Sept. 17, 1973.

Watergate's TV Beneficiaries,” Time, Aug. 20, 1973.

Film and television

Dickerson, Nancy and Carpenter, William. 784 Days That Changed America, Television Corporation of America, 1982.

Gold, Mick. Watergate. BBC, 1994.

McDowell, Charles. Summer of Judgment: The Watergate Hearings. WETA-TV and PBS.

Scheinfeld, John. Dick Cavett’s Watergate. Thirteen Productions, 2014.

Episode 4 makes use of archival footage from the following sources:

NBC Nightly News, March 23, 1973 (courtesy of NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, April 17, 1973 (courtesy of NBC news archive)

James McCord, testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

John Dean, testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Jeb Stuart Magruder, testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Bernard Barker, testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Senator Sam Dash, member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Senator Lowell Weicker questioning John Mitchell before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

NBC Nightly News, June 25, 1973 (courtesy of NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, May 17, 1973 (courtesy of NBC news archive)

Senator Sam Ervin, member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Senator Sam Dash questioning Maurice Stans before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

Anthony Ulasewicz,testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

NBC Nightly News, May 23, 1973  (courtesy of NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, April 17, 1973  (courtesy of NBC news archive)

The Dick Cavett Show, Aug. 1, 1973 (courtesy of Daphne Productions)

Senator Howard Baker, member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (courtesy of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum)

NBC Nightly News, June 26, 1973  (courtesy of NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, June 24, 1973  (courtesy of NBC news archive)

NBC Nightly News, July 16, 1973  (courtesy of NBC news archive)

Slow Burn’s theme song is “Back to the Old House” by Niklas Ahlström.

Slow Burn is produced by Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons. Bonus episodes are produced by Leon Neyfakh and Jeff Friedrich.