How Much Do You Know About the Watergate Scandal?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: U.S. Government

About This Quiz

It might seem like a quaint or naïve notion these days, but in the mid-20th century, Americans were actually pretty cool with the idea of letting a president control the country. After all, guys like Franklin Roosevelt had just steered them through World War II and its aftermath. However, it wasn’t long before U.S. citizens soon soured on politicians, and a lot of it was because of the Watergate scandal. In this shady quiz, do you think you really know about the activities that were exposed during one of the worst political scandals of all time?

Richard Nixon took office at the end of the Sixties, the most turbulent decade of the century in America. He promised to bring a more conservative slant to federal politics. What he didn’t mention was that he was a paranoid, power-hungry man who would do virtually anything to keep the Oval Office all for himself. Early in an election cycle, his men broke into the headquarters of the opposing political party … and got away with it. There was just one problem – just weeks later, they had to commit the same crime all over again.

Do you know why these men kept committing crimes for a corrupt administration? Do you have any idea how they got caught? And how did the Nixon Administration respond to a raft of allegations? The whole sordid ordeal is now simply called the Watergate scandal, or just simply “Watergate.” Jump into the fracas of political intrigue and corruption in this Watergate scandal quiz now! Whatever you do, don’t let the crooks get away!

The Watergate scandal happened during which president's administration?

Richard Nixon was elected U.S. president in 1968. He was inaugurated in January 1969 and was in charge when the Watergate scandal tore the government apart.


How did the Watergate scandal begin?

The Watergate scandal started when burglars entered the Democratic National Committee offices one night in June 1972. But it was no ordinary break-in.


In May 1972, burglars broke into the DNC. They stole secret documents and ______.

In May, burglars stole sensitive documents. They also planted listening devices so that they could overhear conversations happening at the DNC.


How did the White House describe the break-in?

The White House was extremely dismissive of the incident, calling it merely a "third-rate" burglary. But there was a lot more to the burglary than anyone outside the administration first suspected.


Why did the burglars return to the DNC in June, just a few weeks after the first break-in?

The listening devices weren't working the way they were supposed to. So the men returned to the scene in hopes of fixing the problem. Their decision to return to the DNC was a fateful one.


On the night of the second burglary, how did a security guard know that there was someone unauthorized in the building?

During his rounds of the DNC, a security guard noticed that the door locks were taped, a sure sign that someone had gained unauthorized entry. He immediately called the police, who caught the burglars in the act.


How many men were arrested trying to burglarize the Democratic National Committee?

It took five men to completely bungle the break-in at the DNC. Their arrests would trigger a political firestorm


In October 1972, which periodical published an investigative piece that touched on the DNC break-in, perhaps tying the Nixon Administration to the crime?

In October 1972, the Washington Post published a story which implicated Nixon's staff in the break-in. That story was the beginning of a long and treacherous fall for Nixon.


True or false, was it immediately obvious that the Watergate burglars were connected somehow to the president?

No. No one outside of the Nixon Administration knew that the burglars were working for the Republicans, but in the end, the truth would come out.


In August 1972, Nixon gave a speech and mentioned the break-ins. What did he say about the incident?

Nixon said he and his men had nothing to do with the break-ins. As the world found out later, though, he was lying through his teeth.


What happened to President Nixon in November 1972?

In November, just weeks after the Post's story hit newsstands, Nixon was reelected as president. He defeated George McGovern in a landslide.


One of the men who was arrested was part of CRP, which stood for what?

James McCord was a top-level security official for the CRP, the Committee to Re-Elect the President. Later, Americans would derisively call CRP "CREEP," for its creepy ties to political wrongdoing.


True or false, did Nixon know about the arrests?

Just a few days after the arrests, Nixon knew that law enforcement was involved. He could've never guessed how dire the situation would become


How did the Nixon Administration try to keep the burglars from talking about their crime?

The administration paid cash to the arrested men. It was essentially hush money to keep them from talking about the details of their ties to the president.


On November 17, 1973, Nixon had a interview in which he said, "Well, I am not a ____."

In a televised interview, Nixon said, "People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got." Only in the end, he turned out to be a crook after all.


What were the "White House Plumbers"?

Nixon's men set up a secret group called the "White House Plumbers" in 1971, and they were tasked with halting leaks of sensitive government information. Two of the Watergate burglars had connections to the Plumbers, which immediately drew suspicion from the FBI.


White House counsel John Dean testified that Nixon _____ all conversations in the Oval Office.

Under pressure from investigators, White House counsel John Dean testified that Nixon secretly taped all Oval Office conversations. Investigators then realized that they had to get their hands on those tapes as soon as possible.


Who were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein?

Woodward and Bernstein were the Washington Post's investigative reporters who looked into the Watergate scandal. Slowly but surely, they began to see that there was a major cover-up in the works.


What was Archibald Cox's role in the scandal?

Cox was assigned as a special prosecutor during the scandal. When Cox wouldn't give up his requests for the Oval Office's secret recordings, Nixon tried to have him fired.


What was the "Saturday Night Massacre"?

On July 20, 1973, Nixon overplayed his hand, forcing his top lawmen to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Two men resigned rather than do Nixon's bidding; the third finally did fire Cox, but just weeks later, a judge ruled that the firing was illegal. The "Saturday Night Massacre" was yet another black stain on the Nixon Administration.


Under pressure from investigators, Nixon released transcripts of some tapes. Then investigators realized what?

After Nixon began releasing some transcripts of the tapes, investigators realized that parts of the tapes had been erased. Investigators were sure that tampering was involved.


On August 4, 1974, a damning tape finally came to light in the investigation. What information was on the tape?

One "smoking gun" tape captured Nixon hoping that the CIA would interfere with the FBI's investigation of the break-ins. His behavior was essentially obstruction of justice, a serious crime.


Once the "smoking gun" tape was revealed, what happened to Nixon's political support?

With proof that Nixon had interfered with a criminal investigation, the president's political support dissipated almost instantly. He was abandoned unlike any president before, or since.


With the release of the tapes, what happened to Nixon?

Nixon faced certain impeachment. He was forced to resign from office just days after the tapes came to light.


Following Nixon's resignation, what did new President Gerald Ford do just weeks after being sworn into office?

Ford wanted to put the Watergate mess behind him (and the country) as soon as possible. He pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed in office, letting the disgraced former president off without any real punishment.


The Watergate scandal was ultimately a case of _____.

When politicians run wild, they do things that result in, say, illegal espionage, which is pretty much what Watergate boils down to. What makes it even worse were the efforts to cover up all of the wrongdoing.


Before Watergate, how did Americans generally feel about their presidents?

In the post WWII years, Americans mostly trusted their elected officials, particularly presidents. Nixon's debacle made citizens much more cynical about the highest office in the land.


Nixon never admitted to any crime. He did admit to _____.

Nixon, now dead, never admitted to the crimes he committed. However, he did say that he used poor judgment as the case unraveled around him.


How did Nixon try to stop the FBI from investigating the break-ins?

Nixon and his men told the CIA to interfere with the FBI's investigation. This act was even worse than the original crime … and it would come back to haunt Nixon.


Who was Bruce Givner?

Givner was a 21-year-old intern who stayed late -- very late -- at the DNC building the night of the second break-in. His presence delayed the burglars and helped lead to their arrests.


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