in the movie all president's men, what role did the media play in the presidency?
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"The movie tells the true story of two Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they investigate the conspiracy behind the crime. Gradually they discover that the burglars have links to the government and the White House itself. As Woodward and Bernstein delve further into the murky world of Washington politics they find that the conspiracy was authorised and directed by those closest to the President.
If All the President’s Men had just been a regular thriller then it would probably have been quickly dismissed as being implausible. However, except for a few changes made for dramatic reasons the entire film is an accurate portrayal of the newspaper investigation. As such its one of the best ever films about how newspapers work (or used to), and the daily personal and ethical issues that journalists have to deal with. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are great as the two reporters although it helps that they’re surrounded by a very strong supporting cast including Jason Robards as their Editor Ben Bradlee.
The strange thing about watching All the President Men today is realising that it was filmed less than two years after the real events. Normally it takes several years or even decades after something has happened for Hollywood to dramatize it. Because this was filmed so soon after Nixon’s actual resignation it feels much more authentic than if they’d made it in the 80s or 90s. Of course Alan J Pakula had form with this sort of thing. He’d already made the Parallax View and Klute which covered similar paranoid themes. Of course it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.
To a certain extent the film overemphasis the role of the media in Nixon’s downfall. The CIA, FBI, the Supreme Court and Congress had equally important parts to play but the media really helped shape the story in the public imagination. This was probably one of the high points of investigative journalism in the 20th century and shows what the medium can do when it really tries.
In terms of lasting impact the book/film gave the world the term ‘deepthroat’ to refer to a whistleblower (although I do realise they didn’t originate the phrase) and ‘Watergate’ itself. As a result every time there is a huge scandal now the word gate is usually added to it, sometimes for no good reason e.g. Iran Contra-gate, Whitewater-gate etc. Perhaps the films greatest achievement is that while making lots of money and winning four Oscars it proved that you could make a big budget, star filled, blockbuster while also making an intelligent political thriller at the same time. This is a lesson that seems to have been lost on a lot of modern Hollywood, as far too often they seem to regard the two things as being mutually exclusive which is our loss."
I agree in large part with jill d, but I think she downplays the significance of the Post investigation. The Supreme Court, FBI, etc., did have a role -- but they would never been allowed to play it out, had not Woodward and Bernstein, and their bosses at the Washington Post, gone ahead with their reports even in the face of intimidation from the Nixon administration. Without the determination of Woodward and Bernstein, the sagacity of Ben Bradlee, and the courage and integrity of Katherine Graham, the wrongdoing of Nixon's cohorts would never have been exposed.
Good investigative journalism is at least as important to democracy as access to the polls, etc. Independent journalism is indeed the watchdog of democracy and freedom.