23 December 2016 | Rodrigo_Amaro
Great documentary on ABC archives following Nixon's downfall
This ABC special on Watergate and president Nixon's resignation is possibly the most comprehensive and easiest to follow document on the topic. 15 years about Nixon's final moments at the White House, ABC presented their version of the facts ever since the Watergate break-up and the new leads year after year, up until the smoking gun that made the first American president to resign from office. It consists of extensive archive footage in chronological order to show us how those dark days not only at the White House but also in America were back when the scandal broke out.
I've found here a fascinating work, which established in a better fashion and way most of what I knew about the issue, presenting new characters that didn't appear in other documentaries and film versions, and the amazing news archives from the period with reporters Sam Donaldson, Diane Sawyer and others presenting the live coverage of the Watergate hearings and more. I'm a huge fan of Oliver Stone's "Nixon" (1995) but you know how it goes with the man sometimes, he adds things that never happened, dramatizes a lot but this documentary showed something that actually happened and I thought it was fabrication (Nixon pushing press secretary Ron Ziegler in front of media people - that actually happened and you can see a brief clip of this here in this doc). Along with the British 4-hour miniseries "Watergate" (1994), this is a must-see documentary for those who have a fascination for Nixon, 1970's politics and the whole scandal.
I loved the way they presented the news back in the time, the whole chronology with the highlights of the scandal (the break-in; the White House response; the firing of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mitchell; the Saturday Night Massacre; Dean's testimony; the hearing committee and so forth), all of which made the subject more palatable and interesting to catch. For those confused with Stone's back and forth approach in that movie (I don't have any problem with that, cinematic terms were done in that confusing way to highlight Anthony Hopkins' excellent performance) I strongly suggest either watching this piece or reading all the material available on it. The presentation here is near perfection.
My few objections with this special are the lack of mention of the true figures who put the story into the spotlight, Woodward and Bernstein with their bombastic columns at the Washington Post; and that the ABC reporters who covered the stories between 1972-1974 weren't invited to tell their perspectives about all of that years later. That approach would be interesting to see, their impressions and memories from years ago, all of which would form a better context for those who are interested in understanding the whole affair. The closest we got from this is Diane Sawyer interview with Nixon in 1980 where he shares his particular view on the issue.
In retrospect, "Dark Days at the White House: The Watergate Scandal and the Resignation of President Richard M. Nixon" was a monumental and historical project that unfolded politics and Nixon back then in a reduced yet spectacular way that made more fascinated than ever. Truly awesome. 9/10