All the President’s Men

Throughout the history of America, there have been important watershed moments that dramatically affected the future. Some of the biggest moments in the 20th century include the World Wars, the assassination of JFK, and certainly the Watergate scandal.

All the President’s Men (1976) is the true story of two reporters’ investigation of the Watergate scandal. The movie captures your attention and runs with it as we are swept up in the unraveling scandal. Each minute of the movie raises the excitement level as new details are unearthed, and more high level government officials are exposed to be involved in the scandal.

Robert Redford is the shining star in this film as he depicts reporter Bob Woodward. Dustin Hoffman lends a valuable role in the movie as well with his portrayal of reporter Carl Bernstein. The two do an excellent job working off each other and portraying two reporters reluctant to work together but work well as a team.

Teamwork: Taking down presidents since 1972

The movie captures the new attitude people had about presidents and people of power. According to one blogger, high-ranking officials thought themselves untouchable because they deserved to be. Watergate showed that even the most powerful men must answer for what they have done.

The movie also depicted the fears of American citizens. It is a long-held belief that the government is quick to cover up information that could damage its image, even if that information compromises the well-being of the public. The scandal and movie reminds us of the value of transparency, and the destructive nature of cover-ups. From a public relations standpoint, Watergate was a complete failure.


Washington Post Reporter Bob Woodward is assigned a story on a recent break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Complex. The story seems trivial at first, but as new information surfaces, with the help of an anonymous source in the FBI called ‘Deep Throat,’ it is clear he is dealing with a scandal of epic proportions.

The Washington Post assigns Carl Bernstein on the case as well. The two find it hard to work together at first, but it later becomes clear their journalistic abilities complement each other well. Together, they uncover connections between the burglars and high-ranking members of the government. Their investigation brings them to President Richard Nixon’s Special Council Charles Coleson, who tells the reporters to leave the story alone.

Look guys, I know this is the biggest story of your journalistic careers, but what do you say we just forget about it, eh?

Eventually, the trail leads all the way up to President Nixon Himself, who ordered a cover-up of the break-in. The movie ends with a montage of Nixon’s resignation. The rest is history.

Why it’s awesome

Everybody loves the story of the little guy taking down ‘big brother,’ who in this case is the United States government. We’re drawn in as the facts unravel and more people are implicated in the scandal. This is how you make a movie about a couple of reporters running around asking questions actually interesting.

The screenplay is well-written and was nominated for several awards, even winning one from the Writer’s Guild of America. Redford himself was heavily involved in the film’s production and writing, and worked closely with the real Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The movie is so accurate to real events that some journalism and government classes show the movie in class as an educational tool.

The movie makes me wonder if there are important secrets the government has been successful in hiding. Maybe this is why a site like Wikileaks can be helpful in keeping people honest.

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5 Responses to All the President’s Men

  1. Megan Confer says:

    I’ve actually never seen this movie, but this post definitely intrigues me. I think the whole mysteriousness of the government can really get you thinking. Furthermore, the more I read in the post, the more I related it back to whats going on currently with the Penn State scandal. Particularly the comment “high-ranking officials thought themselves untouchable.” I wonder if this is how Jerry Sandusky felt. Did he think he could simply just get away with it? Also, the cover up point. If we can learn anything from past and present scandals it should be that honesty is the best policy and communication is key. Covering things up only makes the situation worse in the long run.

    • Kyle says:

      Social media is a force to be reckoned with. I think the public outcry against Jerry Sandusky was amplified with the rising popularity of social media. Imagine the kind of outrage the Watergate scandal would have generated had it occurred in today’s online world.

  2. Ryan Clair says:

    I agree whole-heartedly that even the most powerful men should be held accountable and should have to answer for what they have done, but I sympathize with the “high-ranking officials attitudes” that they themselves are untouchable because they deserved to be. This attitude can, and is often replicated on even a much smaller scale. For example, as a leader in my Fraternity, I often find myself thinking it would be OK to simply not complete community service hours (all members must complete 20) just because In my mind I pull enough weight for the organization as it is. This is an easy trap, and It gets easier to fall into that trap the more significant of a leader you are. True leaders are leaders who lead by example, but never the less all leaders have their flaws. I find the topics of discussion on leadership brought out by Watergate and this movie interesting, as someone who continually seeks to lead his peers. I also find it strange but acceptable that I sympathize with Nixon more than the truth seeking roles played by Redford and Hoffman. I do not think that makes me a bad leader personally, but I do believe that men born to be leaders would find this movie less entertaining, because they have most likely been in similar (although drastically less significant) situations.

    • Kyle says:

      I agree with you that leaders are put in a very vulnerable position. As a leader of a campus Bible study, I know what it’s like to have a leadership role and the responsibility associated with that. The problem is that to be a leader, you must accept this role of increased scrutiny, and you must be held to a higher standard. I feel Nixon and his administration were rightly grilled because they accepted the responsibility as well as the consequences of their actions.

      But I must agree, I think people in non-leadership positions don’t grasp the burden leaders carry. It’s a tough role that’s not for everybody.

  3. John Codrea says:

    Ha, ignore that careless grammatical mistake in the third sentence of my second paragraph; talk about irony.

    Anyway, like a dumbass, I got carried away critiquing the post and forgot to actually comment on the topic! I think this film is a perfect example of why we need a free press that facilitates open and honest dialogue. It’s the muckrakers, the watchdogs who dare to ask questions, who keep those in power accountable for their actions (or their decisions). If you don’t have a fire alarm, you’re not gonna notice the fire ’til you’re choking on the smoke. It’s the same concept; journalists are the primary line of defense against corruption among the elite. It’s why sources like Wikileaks are so widely held in contempt, yet so very vital to a truly free, democratic society. People don’t like having their dirty laundry hung out in the open, but some dirty laundry deserves to be aired where all can see it.

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