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Written by Timothy Sexton
“June 17, 1972. Nine o'clock Saturday morning. Early for the telephone. Woodward fumbled for the receiver and snapped awake. The city editor of the Washington Post was on the line. Five men had been arrested earlier that morning in a burglary attempt at Democratic headquarters, carrying photographic equipment and electronic gear. Could he come in?”
This is the opening line of the book and sets the stage for what can be a rather jarring and disconcerting discovery for the first-time reader. The third person reference to the name of one of the authors that is clearly emblazoned across the cover of the book can indeed be a little unsettling. This makes the opening paragraph of the novel all the more important and engaging as it does help settle the reader into unusual structural foundation of the book which places its two authors as distinct characters in the narrative drawn starkly in third-person perspective.
“Bernstein looked like one of those counterculture journalists that Woodward despised. Bernstein thought that Woodward's rapid rise at the Post had less to do with his ability than his Establishment credentials.”
Another example of the third person perspective of the writing that now reveals that there will be insight into the minds and thoughts of the two young newspaper reporters who are at the center of the Washington Post coverage of the Watergate break-in and the subsequent attempt to cover it up by the White House administration of Pres. Richard M. Nixon.
“Woodward said that he had told no one the name of Deep Throat.
Mrs. Graham paused. 'Tell me,' she said.
Woodward froze. He said he would give her the name if she wanted. He was praying she wouldn't press it. Mrs. Graham laughed, touched his arm and said she was only kidding, she didn't really want to carry that burden around with her. Woodward took a bite of his eggs, which were cold.”
One of the inviolate laws of journalism is supposed to be that you never name your sources. In concert with that laws is that your superiors never press you to name your sources. Such explains the dramatic tension at work in this excerpt from the book. Deep Throat was Woodward’s deep background source of information whose identity would go on to become one of the most persistently entertaining games in Washington for decades: a game of trying to identify who Deep Throat might be.
“I have a wife and a family and a dog and a cat.”
Clawson’s repeated explanation of just how middle-America he is represents a lovely demonstration of just how incestuous the relationship between politicians and journalists is while at the same time demonstrating the lengths that politicians will go to deny any such relationship. This quote from the book was utilized to great dramatic effect in the film version of All the President’s Men as it becomes one of the highlights of comic relief necessarily inserted into the increasingly tense narrative thrust of the story.
“We’ve never had a story like this. Just never.”
Interestingly, the character of Barry Sussman, District of Columbia news editor at the time, did not make it into the film version of All the President’s Men by name and instead became part of a composite character nominalized into being as Metropolitan Editor Barney Rosenfeld. Sussman plays an enormous role in the book because he played a huge role in the story. So important was Sussman that his most famous quote from the book would go to emblazon both the cover of the book and some posters for the movie. That quote was realized shortly after the Dahlberg letter tied the investigation directly to the Committee the Re-Elect the President.
"I want you to know that I have no intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the American people elected me to do for the people of the United States."
The final lines of the book. History was written within the pages of the book and the history that Richard Nixon desired to write for himself did not quite coincide with what the future actually held in store for him. Due in no small part to the efforts of the reporters whose investigative journalism detailed within the pages immediately precede these concluding words.
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