A Battle for the Truth

     Imagine a world where nobody questioned widespread beliefs. Asking the tough questions is a big sacrifice. The truth sets people free. On the other hand, whoever seeks the truth threatens power. If that power comes from a lie, that power will try to silence the truth. This is the ugly battle behind good journalism. “All the President’s Men,” a film about the Watergate Scandal, tells the story of one such battle. 

Movie poster for “All the President’s Men”.

     The film begins at night on June 17, 1972. Five men quietly walk into the Watergate Office Building. The film shows the halls dark and empty. The footsteps echo. No music plays in the background to help the viewer predict what will happen. The men sneak into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the building. The intense silence beckons the viewer to watch closely. 

     The police catch the men. The five criminals go to court for committing burglary. Bob Woodward, a journalist for the Washington Post, attends the court hearing. The newspaper sent him to write a story on the case. Little does he or the public know the reason for the crime. It will unfold into one of the biggest political scandals exposed in the United States. 

     Woodward questioned the case critically. He quickly saw that the burglars wouldn’t have broken into the DNC for themselves. The DNC doesn’t have the goods that normal burglars want. Carl Bernstein, another journalist for the Washington Post, helped with the story. “I just think it’s obvious with all that money and equipment that they weren’t out to, you know, work by themselves,” Bernstein said in the film. “Somebody hired them!” Bernstein researched and gave Woodward some crucial contacts. The contacts came from the address books of the burglars.

     When Woodward called to find out about the contacts, he quickly met resistance. Over the phone, people answered Woodward’s questions openly at first. Later, they said their previous statements came from poor memory or human error. Then they hung up. This pattern continued throughout the film. 

     People involved in the crime hid what they knew for many reasons. As the story unfurled, the reporters found that those involved were high up in government. One of those many people who shut out the two reporters said in the film, “You think you can come into my home, ask a few questions, have me destroy the reputations of men that I work for and respect? Do you understand loyalty? Have you ever heard of loyalty?”