Documentaries & Discussions event focuses on the valuable lessons from Watergate

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Photo by Cody Glassett

With more than 40 years having passed since the infamous Watergate scandal, one professor at UVU still believes that we have much to learn from the the event that forever changed American politics.

Nearly 50 students attended the Documentaries & Discussions event in the Classroom Building March 28, where Ernest Istook, a former congressman and current UVU professor, spoke on Watergate and the importance of distinguishing true parallels from non-important parallels in politics today.

With various interviews from actors, including Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, the first documentary “All the President’s Men: Revisited” analyzes the original 1976 political thriller “All The President’s Men” in connection with the effect that Watergate had on political leaders of the time.

Following each film, Istook opened the floor to a discussion, while encouraging impartiality and objectivity when drawing parallels with today’s political sphere.

A student in attendance asked a question regarding the Trump administration’s current presence in the media.

“They’re struggling to find something,” Istook said. “Those who want to claim that there was any supposed collusion, they need to find something stronger than what they’ve come up with so far.”

Having worked as a lawyer for many years, Istook emphasized that while it seems simple enough to see similarities between the Nixon and Trump administrations in regards to conspiracies, the facts must be evident when drawing comparisons.

“Anyone can cast innuendos,” Istook said. “The fact that some people want to keep asking questions doesn’t mean that there is something that has been done wrong. Again, it’s a matter of clarity.”

The second film “Final Report: Watergate” described the key events leading up to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in a play-by-play format. From the discovery of the Pentagon Papers, to the pardoning of Nixon, this documentary breaks down the Watergate timeline in a simple and straightforward manner.

Following the second film, discussions opened up about Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters responsible for exposing the coverups and lies of Watergate. Istook used his knowledge and experience as a journalist to emphasize the distinction between factuality and propaganda.

“There’s a great desire by many people in the media to achieve the same sort of fame as Woodward and Bernstein achieved,” Istook said.

While recognizing the important role the two reporters played in the historic event, Istook did emphasize the change that journalism has taken over the years.

“Drawing connections that are offentenious, it happens often in journalism today,” Istook said. “When reporting is designed to sway people, rather than giving them information, it can cross over into propaganda.”

In total, nearly 50 students attended the Documentaries & Discussions event.

“I think it’s important to find the truth,” said Kym Anderson, a freshman political science major. “I also think it’s important to know exactly who you’re voting for in politics, and what your political stances are.”