Watergate whistleblower to speak, teach at ASU
John W. Dean, the former counsel to President Richard Nixon and a key figure in the Watergate scandal, will explore the famed cover-up’s influence on American politics and journalism during a lecture at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Dean will be interviewed by Cronkite faculty member and former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., who was the newspaper’s deputy metro editor during Watergate and helped supervise coverage. The discussion, “Uncovering Watergate’s Legacy and Impact on Journalism,” will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Cronkite School’s First Amendment Forum on the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.
“I'm looking forward to this extraordinary opportunity to explore John Dean's views on the lessons of Watergate for himself, the nation and American journalism after his four decades of reflection, remarkable scholarship and several books about it,” said Downie, who currently serves as Cronkite’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism.
Dean has been appointed to ASU’s Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions for the fall and spring semesters. Established in 1977, the Goldwater Chair supports the appointment of scholars who have distinguished themselves in the fields of political science, history, economics, law or public policy. Dean will give several classroom and public lectures throughout the fall and teach courses in philosophy and law this spring.
“ASU is very excited to have Mr. Dean as the first Goldwater Chair with an interdisciplinary appointment,” said Arthur Blakemore, vice provost and professor at ASU. “He offers an exceptional opportunity for students to encounter someone with intimate knowledge about a historical event of great importance and controversy. His appointment provides opportunities for ASU students university-wide to gain his unique perspective across a spectrum of disciplines, topics and applications.”
Dean served as counsel to President Nixon from 1970-73. At the Senate Watergate Committee in June 1973, Dean implicated Nixon, administration officials and himself in the cover-up. During his testimony, he also mentioned the existence of Nixon’s infamous “Enemies List,” which included the names of major political opponents to the president.
Dean pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his role in the scandal and testified during the trial of several of Nixon’s top White House aides. He served four months in prison.
Following Watergate, Dean went on to become an investment banker, lecturer and author. He has written numerous books, including “Blind Ambition” and “Lost Honor,” which both recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate. His most recent book, “The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It,” is based on his review of hundreds of recorded conversations from the Nixon White House tapes. His other books include profiles on politicians such as former Presidents Warren G. Harding and George W. Bush, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.
Dean was a visiting scholar and a lecturer at the University of Southern California and has recently been teaching a nationwide continuing legal education series for attorneys that examines the impact of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct on select historic events of the Watergate scandal.