Americans are proud people. They want to support their country however they can. Some fly American flags off their porches. Some sing the National Anthem at sporting events. Others sign up to defend the country from enemies, foreign and domestic, by joining the military. More go into politics, hoping to make the country better for all who live in it.
The world of politics does not have the same dangers as the world of war. It isn’t an easy world to navigate either, however. That fact was never clearer than after the Washington Post published a story in 1972 about a cover-up that led all the way to the Oval Office.
What was first reported as a routine break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate Office Building soon became more. Two reporters for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, thought there was more to that story. So, they began to dig deeper.
When some of the arrested burglars were found to be former CIA and FBI agents, Woodward went to his anonymous source, Deep Throat, for help. Deep Throat helped piece together what the reporters were missing by insisting they “follow the money.”
By following Deep Throat’s advice, Woodward and Bernstein discovered that the burglars were connected to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign committee. Woodward and Bernstein began talking to as many people as they could to find the truth. That did not make many people happy. Soon, Woodward and Bernstein were being warned to stop investigating or risk their lives.
Woodward and Bernstein did not stop and they were finally able to put together who knew what. One of those people was President Nixon. After publicly denying that he knew anything, President Nixon was soon unable to hide his knowledge any longer. The Supreme Court ordered Nixon to turn over tapes of secretly recorded conversations. Some of those conversations held undeniable evidence. President Nixon resigned from office in August 1974 rather than face impeachment.
The movie “All the President’s Men” covers Woodward and Bernstein’s actions leading to this monumental discovery. Along with Woodward and Bernstein, the movie follows Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of the Washington Post. When talking to Woodward and Bernstein about the implications the story could have, Bradlee demanded they get it right. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy,” Bradlee said.
Woodward, Bernstein and the Washington Post were the only ones reporting on this story. Every other paper thought the burglary of the DNC’s headquarters was just that–a burglary. If it weren’t for these brave reporters or their trustful editor, Nixon’s crimes may have never been discovered. No one would know the truth, and Nixon could have gotten away with the burglary, the secret recordings, bribes and much more. Nixon was 20 months into his second term in office. He would have had two more years to manipulate the U.S. government for his benefit. Thankfully, that was not the case. And it’s due in part to two reporters from the Washington Post.