Over 40 years after one of the darkest moments in modern political memory, a prosecutor, Plumber, journalist and Nixon assistant -- who were all involved in the scandal -- agree on at least one thing: Watergate is still politically relevant.
"What that story showed me is the importance of reporters who ask questions -- shoe-leather reporting," said Bob Meyers, a Washington Post correspondent.
He said that shortly after college he saw coverage of the break-in at Democratic offices in the Watergate hotel in Washington, D.C., and "my first thought is, this goes straight to Nixon."
At a panel discussion hosted by the University of Pittsburgh Honors College on Thursday night, Bud Krogh, who was responsible for leading the Plumbers, a covert White House special investigations unit, said he bought into President Richard Nixon's argument that the president's conception of national security should trump everything else.
"I let national security cloud my judgment," he said. "It was absolutely important for me to go to prison."
Alexander Butterfield, an assistant to Nixon who ultimately revealed that he had been taping conversations, also reflected on the decision to follow the president's lead.
Mr. Butterfield said he was one of only seven people who knew about the tapes and planned to "swallow my tongue" if anyone ever asked about them. The tapes were a deep dark secret, and I certainly wanted to honor that secret." But he added, "I knew it would be the end of my political career."
Although Mr. Butterfield and Mr. Krogh acknowledged their roles in the scandal that would lead to the first -- and only -- resignation of a U.S. president, they both cracked smiles before the panel discussion started, standing in front of a cardboard cutout of Nixon.
"Why do I have to be right next to him?" Mr. Krogh said referring to his position next to Nixon's likeness.
Mr. Butterfield couldn't help but smile.
Jill Wine-Banks, the Watergate prosecutor who questioned Nixon secretary Rose Mary Woods, told the audience of 350 that she was one of the few women involved in investigating the scandal.
"Women were an oddity in court," Ms. Banks said, noting that only 5 percent of her law school class was female.
"I've never been the last woman in a job, even though I've always been the first."
Ms. Banks acknowledged that many students in the crowd might have only passing familiarity with the scandal and its continued resonance in American political life.
But she said the overriding moral lesson is that people must tell the truth to stay in power.
Tim Naftali, the former director of the Nixon library, described the challenge of contextualizing the scandal in a newly designed exhibit for those who only know Watergate based on pop-culture representations of it.
He said the film "Frost-Nixon" is one example of a popular landmark that gets the history wrong.
"That film gives the wrong impression," Mr. Naftali said. "Richard Nixon had never admitted any crime."
He said people wrongly assume that the importance of the scandal is buried in the details of the break-in at the Watergate.
"The burglary is the reason we found out about it," Mr. Naftali said. But, "Watergate is about the abuse of government power.
"If you don't stand up to your government, it will commit crimes against you."
Alex Zimmerman: email@example.com or 412-263-3909 or on Twitter @AGZimmerman.