For the last week, the Republican Party has been the victim of a barrage of unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations by George McGovern and his partner-in-mud-slinging, the Washington Post. Given the present straits in which the McGovern campaign finds itself, Mr. McGovern appears to have turned over the franchise for his media attack campaign to the editors of the Washington Post, who have shown themselves every bit as sure-footed along the low road of this campaign as their candidate.. . .
Clark MacGregor, President Nixon's campaign director, October, 1972:
And the Washington Post's credibility has today sunk lower than that of George McGovern.. . .
Using innuendo, third-person hearsay, unsubstantiated charges, anonymous sources and huge scare headlines, the Post has maliciously sought to give the appearance of a direct connection between the White House and the Watergate---a charge which the Post knows and half a dozen investigations have found to be false.
The hallmark of the Post's campaign is hypocrisy---and its celebrated "double standard" is today visible for all to see.
Unproven charges by McGovern aides, or Senator Muskie, about alleged campaign disruptions that occurred more than six months ago are invariably given treatment normally accorded to declarations of war---while proven facts of opposition-incited disruptions of the President's campaign are buried deep inside the paper. When McGovern headquarters in California was used as a boiler room to rally hardcore, anti-war militants to confront the President---that was apparently of no significance to a newspaper which has dispatched a platoon of reporters to investigate charges that somebody sent two hundred pizzas to a Muskie rally last spring.
When Bernstein returned to the office, Ben Bradlee was examining the statements made by Ziegler, Dole and MacGregor, noting that all had emphasized the same things and had used similar language. At the Post, there was little doubt that the attacks were orchestrated and, if not ordered by the President, made with his knowledge and approval.
Reporters from other news organizations were calling Bradlee for a response. He put a sheet of his two-ply paper in his typewriter and banged out a statement:
"Time will judge between Clark MacGregor's press release and the Washington Post's reporting of the various activities of the CRP. For now it is enough to say that not a single fact contained in the investigative reporting by this newspaper about these activities has been successfully challenged. MacGregor and other high administration officials have called these stories 'a collection of absurdities' and the Post 'malicious,' but the facts are on the record, unchallenged by contrary evidence."
Tags: Watergate, Nixon, Bradlee, Bernstein, Woodward