In some significant ways the Obama and Nixon administrations are similar, according to critics, such as their mutual abhorrence of leaks and escalating of wars to bring peace - Obama in Afghanistan, Nixon in Vietnam. The IRS scandal, too, in some ways mirrors Nixon's famous "enemies list," which was compiled so that the IRS would target for audits the president's perceived enemies and unfriendly journalists. The current IRS scandal "reminds me of the so-called 'enemies list' from the 1970s," Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said this week.
The Obama administration has reportedly prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. As with the Nixon administration's pursuit of Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed a trove of information on the Vietnam War, the Obama administration has forcefully gone after alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, who allegedly downloaded and distributed thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Nixon administration took The New York Times to court over the Ellsberg leak and lost, while the Obama administration worked to cut off funding for foreign-based WikiLeaks.
On Wednesday Attorney General Eric Holder pleaded ignorance about the Justice Department's seizure of AP phone records and declined to share information with House Judiciary Committee members. It's unclear how exactly the records seizure was approved. ABC News revealed Thursday that the woman in charge of the IRS division that targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, Sarah Hall Ingram, had been awarded a promotion to oversee the IRS's enforcement of Obama's 2010 health care reform law. The Washington Examiner reports that Ingram was given $103,390 in bonuses over four years.
Bob Woodward, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Watergate at the Post along with colleague Carl Bernstein, said Friday it was "not yet" time to make comparisons between the ongoing scandals and Watergate.
"The government and the media cry 'wolf' so often now, people are burned out. They're desensitized," Dan Smith, curator of the Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr. Library and Museum, told The News & Observer. "But back then, they were transfixed."