Since 1972, the public attention on Watergate scandal has been centered on all the president’s men, but the story is not without its fair share of female characters.
Four women each played a significant role in unraveling the scandal that would ultimately cost Richard Nixon the presidency.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein would pen the series of articles that would expose the White House’s involvement in a cover-up of The Watergate Hotel burglary 40 years ago, with their help.
One of them was Judy Hoback, was working as a bookkeeper for the committee to re-elect President Nixon in 1972 when she was contacted by Carl Bernstein.
Judy Hoback told the BBC: “[Woodward and Bernstein] were pushy young men. I was really scared and they played on that.”
Now known as Judy Miller, she was the only employee from the CRP who willingly spoke with the Washington Post.
In a recent discussion with Carl Bernstein at the Watergate Hotel, Bob Woodward said Judy Hoback did more for them than Deep Throat himself, spurned CIA man Mark Felt, according to Politico.
Bob Woodward said: “There were stages when [Mark Felt] really helped us, but the real turning point in the coverage of Watergate was when Carl found the bookkeeper.
“[Hoback] had the details of the money and who controlled it and who got the money. You look at All the President’s Men, I really think the book-keeper is the key source.”
Debbie Sloan, the wife of CRP treasurer Hugh Sloan who was pregnant at the time, also did her part to aid in the Post investigation, when she allowed Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein into their home.
It was the couple’s honesty that helped confirm key details for the reporters, including details about key Republican officials involved in illegal shenanigans.
Debbie Sloan told the BBC: “We never thought six months ahead. We just thought <<this is what we have to do today>> because we have to live with ourselves and teach our children our values.”
She added: “Neither one of us ever considered lying about it. Ever.”
Marilyn Berger, a fellow Washington Post reporter, became part of the story when she alerted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that Ken Clawson, a member of the Nixon administration’s communications team, wrote the Canuck Letter, a forged letter to the editor of the Manchester Union Leader that alleged presidential contender Edmund Muskie was prejudiced against those of French Canadian descent.
The letter led Edmund Muskie, who was seen as the top threat to Richard Nixon’s re-election, to withdraw from the race.
The exposure of Ken Clawson as the Canuck Letter’s writer revealed a disturbing “dirty tricks” campaign by the Nixon camp.
The larger-than-life personality of Martha Mitchell, the Nixon campaign worker and wife of Attorney General John Mitchell made her the most flamboyant of the female Watergate figures.
In All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein referred to Martha Mitchell as a “bizarre aspect of the Watergate affair” and “something of a truth-teller in Washington”.
In a 1974 interview with British journalist David Frost, Martha Mitchell said: “I was brainwashed. I was told this is what goes on in campaigns.”
Martha Mitchell died two years later, in 1976.