ABC News, wasn’t number three on the network news battles back in the early 1970s. But they were buried in last place which just happened to be third back then. Well behind CBS News and NBC News. They would have been what the CW is today behind CBS, NBC, ABC and even FOX. They simply didn’t have the viewership of the other networks, because they didn’t have the affiliates and perhaps just barely qualified as a national broadcast network back then. But they were able to cover Watergate and did have their own nightly newscast and did have very good people working for them. Like Howard Smith, Frank Reynolds, Harry Reasoner, Sam Donaldson, Peter Jennings and a young Ted Koppel.
Watergate, was nothing more than a local Washington city burglary in the summer of 1972. At least that’s how it was portrayed early on. With some real differences even early on. 1972 was a presidential election year. It wasn’t the Watergate Hotel itself that was burglarized, but the Democratic National Headquarters that had their office at the Watergate that was burglarized. The burglars had both CIA and White House connections with the Nixon Reelection Committee. The White House under President Nixon, involved themselves early on in this story in the summer of 72 when the President told his Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman to tell the FBI to get out of the story. Which wasn’t learned until the summer of 73 with the Senate Watergate investigation.
Without The Washington Post and a certain extent Walter Cronkite at CBS News, all of those stories that broke in the spring and summer of 73 about Watergate, do not come out. Because The Post was hammering away and digging into Watergate from day one. Because Watergate happened in their city and they had all the connections including in the Federal Government, but the local City Government as well to investigate this story. And that is when you see organizations like The New York Times, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, and others, starting to not just look into Watergate, but what else the White House might have been involved in and their other illegal operations back then.