Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This two-hour PBS documentary details not only the 1972 "third-rate burglary" that brought down an American president, but also the unprecedented gavel-to-gavel live TV coverage of the official Watergate hearings. In the summer of 1973, all three commercial networks were offered the opportunity to provide this coverage, and all three took a pass. Only PBS was willing to devote the time, money, and energy to broadcasting the entire procedure, and it is from that network's miles and miles of archival tapes that this special is gleaned. In addition to recalling such once-familiar catchwords as "To the best of my recollection" and "Expletive deleted," the special includes contemporary comments from many of the participants and eyewitnesses of the courtroom spectacle, including former Nixon associates John Dean and Jeb Magruder, journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (co-authors of All the President's Men and The Final Days), and government investigator Sam Dash. Either by accident or design, Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History was originally telecast in late July 2003, just when certain provocative questions were being raised about the credibility of President George W. Bush's official reasons for invading Iraq.