The Watergate Scandal is a part of history we may know. But we may not know how all the king’s horses and all the king’s men… helped the Washington Post put the story together for Ben. The 1976 movie, “All The President’s Men,” captures the importance of journalism that helped bring justice to the deep Watergate scandal.
The Watergate scandal started as five men broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward was assigned to cover the story as a rookie in the company. Woodward then discovers clues that turn the break-in into a larger story. Carl Bernstein then joins Woodward to work on the story. The duo would then risk their jobs, reputation and lives to cover a story for America.
As the story continues, Bernstein and Woodward piece together the larger story involving a scandal by the administration of US President Richard Nixon. Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post’s executive editor, needs sources to confirm the story to prevent liability for the paper. A member of the FBI, referred to as “Deep Throat,” becomes a secret informant for the investigation. Deep Throat was a source who helped guide the investigation. Intentionally, he did not give the reporters information, but only confirmed it. Deep Throat gave Woodward the advice of “follow the money.” That helped them discover the corruption. Deep Throat shows the power of a source to journalism.
The Washington Post exposed the Watergate scandal to the public to fight for freedom of speech and the press. Woodward and Bernstein investigated and wrote the story about the betrayal of their own government. “You know, there’s never been a story like this. You’re going to call the Attorney General of the United States a crook,” Bradlee said. The involvement in the scandal went all the way up to the president of the United States. This would then lead to the resignation of President Nixon.
The movie captures the true industry of journalism. Woodward and Bernstein’s reporting showed investigative journalism. They followed their journalism code of ethics and purpose to inform the public, even behind all the closed doors.
The story shines the light on the profession of journalism and its importance to the U.S. The film uses light and its absence effectively. The Post’s newsroom is brightly lit as the reporters bring forth the truth. The dark scenes are kept dark to show the shadiness and how the Washington Post brought attention to it. The movie shows the inside of the industry in the ’70s with pay phones and notepads to put together a political thriller. The movie plays out like a documentary, as if a Go-Pro were put on to follow Woodward and Bernstein in the 1972 story.
In 2020, watching “All the President’s Men” is intriguing. At the time of the movie, Katharine Graham owned and operated the Washington Post: the newspaper that went all the way to the highest rank of the country, exposing the truth that brought down the president. Now Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post. The news company clearly has a rich history.
Understanding how investigative journalism helped end Nixon’s presidency is interesting, as we just saw President Trump acquitted after his impeachment. Nixon and Trump were both in the process of being impeached for abuse of power, yet both were not removed from office. Nixon resigned and Trump was acquitted by the senate. The Nixon and Trump presidencies have other similarities. Both campaigns had information stolen.
Many journalists were interested in Trump’s investigation. That was not the case for Nixon. The Washington Post was the only news company digging into the story of Nixon. This could be because Woodward and Bernstein brought the truth and power of the First Amendment against a President. The Washington Post’s brave move to follow the story and dig deeper showed the importance of the First Amendment. “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,” Ben Bradlee said.
The First Amendment grants the freedom of speech and a free press. A democracy works when people know about the government through the free flow of ideas. This is why the First Amendment was put into place for our democracy: so people can govern themselves. People need to be educated on their own government. This is where journalism takes a stand for the country. Bernstein and Woodward showed how vital the free press is to our society. Their journalism literally rewrote American history.