WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- When Bob Woodward learned that Richard Nixon had been pardoned, the reporter whose investigation led to Nixon's resignation believed the pardon was "the final corruption of Watergate."
A quarter of a century later, Woodward learned the truth: In pardoning his predecessor, Gerald Ford wasn't making good on a shady deal that would give him the presidency, but saving the scandal-weary country from a protracted investigation, at personal cost.
"What Ford did was gutsy and not corrupt," Woodward said Monday evening at an event sponsored by the Deseret News, "Integrity & Trust: Lessons from Watergate and Today."
The realization also taught Woodward a lesson: the importance of not rushing to judgment.
Speaking to about 450 people in the Newseum, Woodward was joined by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Michael Dimock, president of Pew Research Center.
Elder Christofferson, as a clerk for John J. Sirica, was among the first to hear the recordings that revealed Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
Elder Christofferson remembered the day he first heard the recordings along with Sirica. It was, he recalled, a somber moment dark with disbelief, "a blow to the gut."
"I remember the shock that both the judge and I felt in that moment," Elder Christofferson said. "We were so discouraged, we went home early that day. We had no heart to do anything else. We knew what would happen several months later."
Opening the discussion, Dimock said Pew Research Center has found a sustained decline in how Americans view their government and their elected representatives on the national level.
The decline was steepest in the years after Nixon resigned, but the number of people who say they trust government to do what is right always or most of the time has been low for a decade.
"It bottomed out in 2008 and never recovered," Dimock said.
Elder Christofferson noted that the institutions people distrust are, at their root, comprised of people who can change institutions for the better with their own behavior.
"Watergate was an assault on the integrity of institutions that are crucial for society. But it didn't have the ultimate effect of destroying them because good people, people of integrity, came to the fore and exercised their influence."
SOURCE Deseret News