Can the January 6 Committee Have the Impact of the Senate Watergate Hearings?Breaking News
tags: Watergate, Sam Ervin, Ervin Committee, January 6 Committee
The House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol will begin public hearings on TV Thursday night, eight days before we mark the 50th anniversary of the bungled burglary that gave a name to the biggest political scandal of its time – Watergate.
That single word still reverberates in Washington, in the media and in history. It still has meaning among those who remember those times and those who value the separation of powers and the idea that the law applies to everyone – even the president of the United States.
One big reason people remember Watergate is that the Senate eventually empaneled a special committee to look into the larger story behind that one burglary. And that committee's work played an enormous part in making Watergate what it became.
The panel held 51 sessions in the summer and fall of 1973. All were public and televised gavel-to-gavel. PBS rebroadcast them at night in full. The focus was on the often-shocking testimony of the witnesses, not the personalities or conflicts of the committee members.
Millions watched. Minds were changed. History took a different course.
Fifty years from now, when Americans look back on the riotous break-in at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, will it have as much impact as memories of the Watergate scandal continue to have today?
Much of the answer may depend on what the January 6 investigating committee can accomplish in the weeks ahead.
The word Watergate meant little to anyone in June of 1972. It referred only to a recently completed hotel and office complex overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., near the Kennedy Performing Arts Center and the National Mall. Lots of local folks thought it was rather ugly.