Two of the country's most famous investigative journalists - responsible for breaking perhaps the biggest political scandal in U.S. history - don't seem to think much progress has been made since.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were the featured speakers at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce's 23rd annual awards dinner Nov. 1 at the Indiana Convention Center.
The two discussed their part in reporting on the infamous Watergate break-in of 1972 as young reporters for the Washington Post, which ultimately led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. They spoke before a crowd of about 1,400 business, civic, and political leaders.
During a pre-speech question and answer session with the media, Woodward and Bernstein expressed opinions of today's political environment that aren't much more hopeful than they were during Nixon's presidency. Bernstein called the current political climate "ugly," while Woodward noted it's not unusual to see four of five campaign ads in a row on television.
"TV stations are getting rich from all this," he said. "And these ads are mostly negative and always a partial slice of something."
That can make for a cynical society. Perhaps Watergate and scandals like it helped push the populace that way.
"No one really believed what we were writing, even our colleagues," Woodward said of Watergate at the time. "There was a false Nixon presented to the public, and people bought into that."
Of course it would, or should, be tough for anyone to believe that the president of the United States could be behind something like that. Bernstein said it wasn't until they uncovered that Watergate was a massive campaign of political espionage that it began to make sense to them.
"Anything's possible," Woodward said as a sort of summation. "That's what all of this experience of 40 years of trying to understand presidents and other institutions (has been). It stretches your threshold for dealing with the inconceivable."