As social media grows and the Internet gives more opportunities for people to express their “work,” real journalism has taken a step back. Sure there are plenty of hard-working writers out there who seek to pen real stories but newspapers are struggling for a reason. And even students have an easier time in the subject because of the access of information.
In fact even big name “journalists” like Brian Williams and George Stephanopoulos illustrate how far the craft has fallen. But if you really want to see what journalism is all about, why it matters so much, then you have to watch “All the President’s Men.”
Focusing on Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation into the Watergate scandal (you know the actual –gate scandal), we see two different journalists come together to help piece quite possibly the biggest story in the history of our nation. What starts off as just a few questionable names and evidence turns into a full-blown conspiracy involving The White House. In fact it’s what you expect to see in movies.
However this is based on a true story and while I don’t know all of the aspects that were dramatized, you do get a sense of what the writers went through. All the calls they made, the information they had to pour through and the amount of rejections they faced shows you what it took to break a story of this magnitude. And the way it is presented with the calls feeling so real makes the impact of the journey even greater.
Of course the leads really make the characters come to life with Dustin Hoffman being a classic Dustin Hoffman character in Carl Bernstein; a little cocky and manipulative but focused on what’s important. And Robert Redford’s portrayal of Bob Woodward fits his standard well as a stoic yet deeply intense man sort of like his role as the villain in “Captain America: The Winter Solider” (sorry, spoiler…although it was pretty predictable).
Now while the film does get bogged down during some of the investigations, it picks up at the right points especially in the last 10 minutes or so as both reporters are in danger. Not only is Woodward being followed but also their places have been bugged and the real pressure of the situation becomes apparent.
It caps off with a great interaction with their Editor-in-Chief Ben Bradlee who proclaims that this story means everything to the first amendment of the constitution and our country as a whole. He is dead on correct and even in high school when I did a term paper on the subject I understood just how big this was. Heck I even remember when the real Deep Throat came out. It wasn’t just that a President resigned but more so that our government could obtain that much power and abuse it so thoroughly that our country has never been the same. Now everyone is on the look out for things like that.
To finish off, “All the President’s Men” shows Woodward and Bernstein furiously writing their story as President Nixon is sworn back into office. It is a perfect image of what it was like for these writers and afterward you see a typewriter constantly printing headlines of the aftermath of the scandal. It is aesthetics like these and the actual video footage of the President and others in the Executive Branch that further strengthens the impact of the movie. And to think it only came out about a few years after the scandal. This was an homage to the true power of journalism.
+ Danny Reiter is the Producer of the Dan Sileo Show