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Watergate & Whitewater


An activity for high school social studies classes.


The President is known as the "leader of the free world" which bears quite a responsibility. We assume that the president honestly puts all his/her effort into doing the best he/she can for our country. Unfortunately, there have been times that the president has carried out tasks unethically and, even worse, illegally. Recently there have been two issues that engulfed presidencies. Richard Nixon left office due to a scandal known as Watergate, while Bill Clinton has experienced troubles from issues falling under a possible scandal known as Whitewater. Since you will all be voting soon for our future presidents, it is important for you to understand these events and what impact character has on the presidency.


You will be researching Wategate & Whitewater to first learn what they were in our history. Next, you will determine what similarities/differences there are in each issue. This step will be completed through your group creating a table that compares the two topics. Also, your group will complete an essay that describes what one should expect in a president. You will describe the character of the ideal president and with what style he/she should lead our nation. The final activity will be a Kiva on the two "scandals."


Depending on class size and computers available, you will probably work in groups of three to four. Listed below are Internet sites that help describe and compare the two issues. After gaining a general knowledge of the two events, you will:

1) Create a table that compares the two issues. You will describe the issue, its similarities, differences and list the Internet sites where you obtained your information on the issue. From Microsoft Word, select the appropriate size table for this activity. An appropriate table would have these components:

Issue; Similarities; Differences; Citations of Internet sites that discuss this issue.

Example issue - Executive Privilege

2) Write a one page essay that details your groups’ thoughts on the ideal president. Your essay will include a section on the characteristics of the ideal president. There will also be a section on how the ideal president would carry himself/herself in the Executive Office. Be sure to refer to the two issues that you have recently researched and include thoughts from your knowledge on other presidents. Your typed 12 point font essay will be double-spaced and include a works cited section at the end.

3) You will conclude this assignment with a Kiva. A Kiva is a ceremonial building for many native American tribes including the Hopis. When they discuss important tribal matters they will do it in a Kiva. A Kiva is a building that is circular for it promotes the energy to continue for in a rectangular room there are corners that have ends. In this activity, we will sit in a large circle and have a smaller circle inside with 4 chairs. Four people will initially sit in the smaller circle with one choosing to speak first on the issues we have studied. Afterwards, the person clockwise to the speaker will make a short restatement of what was just said. Once the restatement is done the previous speaker will move to the outer circle and anyone from the outer circle can choose to take the open seat now. With the restatement done, the speaker can choose to elaborate on what was said or speak on anything else dealing with the issue. The process continues with the next person clockwise making a short restatement of just what the person before said and then expanding on anything previously stated or going off on another item. Remember, only the speaker can talk. If you didn’t hear something, you can ask for it to be repeated. You will understand that this method of discussing an issue is not only effective, but promotes better listening skills and does not permit arguments from happening. You should prepare for a Kiva by coming to class with 3 items that you want to elaborate on and the research that you used to come to your well thought out ideas. You will be expected to enter the inner circle a minimum of 3 times and the expectations for a strong grade on this activity are listed below in the evaluation section. Afterwards, the class will reflect on the overall reaction to the activity and issues discussed.

Activities #1, the comparison table, and #2, the essay, will be turned in together with a cover page. The cover page will include a title, date, class and group members.

You will be given 4 class days to complete activities #1 and #2. You will also earn a grade for being on task and demonstrating appropriate behavior on all of those days. On the fifth class day, the Kiva will be performed.


Watergate - 25th Anniversary Special (CNN)
CNN has put together a comprehensive look into Watergate. It gives a general overview, links to Time’s coverage of the scandal, related links, glossary, transcripts, related stories and a section on "Deep Throat."

Watergate - 25th Anniversary Special (Washington Post)
The Washington Post has also put together an in-depth look into Watergate. Both sites are worth a visit.

Whitewater - A Special Report
A great starting point at learning about Whitewater. Done by the Washington Post. It offers an overview, timeline, key issues, stories, links, resources, legal documents and other related items.

Everything is Relative
Article that compares some of the items that have recently come out in the Nixon tapes, in regards to Watergate, and Clinton’s Whitewater.

Nixon/Clinton Message Board
A message board that promotes the discussion on similarities/differences of Whitewater and Watergate.

Nixon, Clinton and the Polls
A conservative commentary on the poll numbers on each president during the times of crisis. Also, it features a message board.

News Analysis : From Nixon to Clinton
A Washington Post article that describes several of the legal issues involving Clinton that were similar to those Nixon encountered. It also has a Jones v. Clinton section.

Jones v. Clinton
The Washington Post special on Jones v. Clinton. Offers an overview, timeline and all the basics of the trial for further information on legal issues concerning President Clinton.

Another Watergate?
Article on similarities/differences of Watergate and Whitewater.

As President Nixon was Impeached so should President Clinton
A conservative article that promotes the impeachment of President Clinton. It states similarities with Watergate and Whitewater.

A Cancer on the Presidency
Jerome M. Zeifman, a life-long Democrat and chief counsel of the House Judiciary Committee at the time of the Nixon impeachment inquiry writes on his thoughts to impeach President Clinton.

Watergate Taint / Is `executive privilege' too Nixonesque for Clinton?
A Newsday article on President Clinton using executive privilege. States the process he is going through and compares the similarities/differences that Nixon used in his crisis.

Analysis: No Stranger to Scandal, Nixon Mesmerized by Clinton Ordeal
This article discusses some of President Nixon’s initial thoughts on Whitewater.

The Media’s Role in the Nixon and Clinton Administrations
A high school student’s thoughts on the media’s role in the two presidents’ administrations. Discusses the first amendment and scandal hungry media in particular.

Embattled Clinton falls back on Nixon's Watergate defence
Article describes that Bill Clinton could be following in the same steps of Richard Nixon in terms of how he and his colleagues will defend themselves in Whitewater.


Rubric for Assessment on the Activities Points Components
______/20 Preparation time.

You will have 3 class days to work on the project. Each day you will be assessed for how effectively you work. If you are on task for the entire class, then you will earn 5 points. If your are off task (misbehaving, goofing off, doing other work, not doing any work), then your actions will cause a deduction in points.
___/5 pts Day 1

___/5 pts Day 2

___/5 pts Day 3

___/5 pts Day 4
Explanation of on task behavior

4 ˝ - 5 pts Continually on task with no behavior problems.

4 - 4 ˝ pts Mainly on task with no behavior problems.

3 ˝ - 4 pts Partially on task with a reminder about behavior.

3 - 3 ˝ pts Sometimes on task with more than one reminder about behavior.

0 - 3 pts Seldom or never on task and is a behavior problem.

______/20 Kiva.

You will be required to speak in the Kiva a minimum of 3 times, but it is recommend that you state your thoughts at least 4 times.

____/6 pts First comment in Kiva.

____/6 pts Second comment in Kiva.

____/6 pts Third comment in Kiva.

____/2 pts Appropriate behavior in Kiva.

____ Additional comment made in Kiva.

____ Additional comment made in Kiva.

____ Additional comment made in Kiva.

Explanation of evaluation of your work in the Kiva.

5 - 6 pts. Makes a valid point that demonstrates a strong knowledge on the subject and is supported from research that is also stated at that time.

4 -5 pts. Makes a valid point that makes a distant reference to research. An adequate knowledge on the subject is demonstrated.

3 - 4 pts. Makes an attempt to speak on the matter, but does not refer to research and shows poor to fair knowledge on the topic.

+ 1 to 2 pts. For each time one presents a thought after speaking the minimum of 3 times in the Kiva.

Please note that points will be deducted for inappropriate behavior or actions during the Kiva. You can earn over the 20 points for this part of the assignment.

______/20 Comparison Table.

Your table must include a minimum of 5 items to compare and contrast with both scandals. You will earn further points if you do more items. This is recommended so it can offset any issues that are done poorly.

_____/4 pts Issue 1 ____/2 pts Additional Issue

_____/4 pts Issue 2 ____/2 pts Additional Issue

_____/4 pts Issue 3 ____/2 pts Additional Issue

_____/4 pts Issue 4 ____/2 pts Additional Issue

_____/4 pts Issue 5 ____/2 pts Additional Issue

Evaluation of an issue that is compare and contrasted. Please note the given table and instructions for the Comparison Table are given in the Process section of this activity.

1 point Proper explanation of the issue for both scandals.

1 point Proper analysis of how the issue is similar for both scandals.

1 point Proper analysis of how the issue is different for both scandals.

1 point Properly cites the web address where the information was obtained.

One can earn a maximum of 4 points per issue. Additional comparisons can earn a maximum of 2 points per issue. You can earn over the 20 points for this part of the assignment.
_____/20 Essay.

Your essay must be typed and grammatically correct. This will be completed with the group you do your research with on the computer.

18 - 20 pts. A well thought out essay that demonstrates knowledge on the topic. No errors. Not only are their references to the topic researched, but mention to other knowledge on the presidency. It is also insightful. Follows given model for work citation with no errors.

16 - 18 pts. A well thought out essay that demonstrates a fair knowledge on the topic. May have one or two errors. More references are needed and analysis of the topic is fair. Follows given model for work citation with 1 or 2 errors.

14 - 16 pts. A fair essay that includes errors, a general knowledge of the topic and needs more of an in- depth analysis of the issues. Follows given model for work citation with 2 to 4 errors.

14 - below An essay with too many errors and demonstrates very little knowledge on the topic. Unacceptable works cited section.

_____/80 Total Points

A : 72 - 80

B : 64 - 72

C : 56 - 64

D : 48 - 56

F : 48 and below