Scandal

Copyright: John Frost Newspapers

The newspaper: The Daily Mirror

The date: August 10, 1974

The news event: United States President, Richard Nixon, resigns

What you see

This tabloid front page focuses on one story. The page is simple, yet dramatic enough to capture the readers’ attention. It shows the departure from office of the most powerful man in the world, the American President. Richard Nixon had resigned and was facing a trial over illegal activities.

Background

Richard Nixon was first elected president in 1968. A right-wing Republican leader, Nixon sought to win the hearts of conservative Americans by promising to uphold traditional values.

In June 1972, five men were arrested for burgling the headquarters of the rival political party, the Democrats. It later transpired that the so called 'burglars' were working for the Republican Party, and had broken into the Democratic offices in order to plant bugging equipment. As the scandal unfolded it became clear that the Republican 'Campaign to re-elect the President' (or CREEP) had been involved in a complex series of illegal activities. These included bugging political opponents, organising smear campaigns and blackmailing corporations into donating funds. Nixon was instrumental in organising a massive cover up, trying to control the police investigation into the crime, and to hide the many links between his administration and the criminal activities.

Bizarrely, it eventually came to light that throughout his presidency, Nixon had taped all his own telephone conversations and meetings. It was these tapes that would incriminate him, providing evidence that he had indeed attempted to organise a cover up of the CREEP scandals. The tapes also revealed many of his anti-black and antisemitic views. Surrounded by scandal, Nixon was eventually forced to resign in 1974.

The burgled Democratic headquarters were housed in theWatergate complex, and this scandal became known as 'Watergate'.

The front page

The Daily Mirror, was a left-wing newspaper, and its journalists would have been very pleased when this story broke. Before Nixon resigned, newspapers across the world had been calling for him to go. Although British tabloid newspapers did not carry as much news from abroad as the more serious newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian or The Daily Telegraph, this was a major scandal which concerned Britain as America was, and is, treated as Britain's closest ally or friend.

Design

The design, like so many tabloid front pages of the time, is centred around a dramatic photograph. This was a disgraced leader who did not intend to go quietly. The photograph was cut out to allow for the masthead, and a thick rule was put on the left-hand side to make it stronger. The 'splash', or main headline, used a very common device of having white type on a black background. The line 'GOODBYE AMERICA' perhaps betrays the sense of relief felt by the newspaper journalists. The only other element on the front page was a cross-reference to a horse racing tipster's story on the back page, just in case some readers were not interested in the story above.