Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in “All the President’s Men”

This classic 1970s movie inspired a generation of young journalists who thought they could, through investigative reporting, expose and take down presidents.

Drill Deeper:

Watergate era: A peak for journalism, by Gene Policinski, The First Amendment Center. Forty years after Watergate, Careercast.com’s 2013 annual report tagged “reporter” as the worst job to have. There were just under 1,800 daily newspapers in 1985, and fewer than 1,400 today…Watergate and “Wood-Stein” may belong to the ages, and news-on-printed paper may well be in its last years. But the appetite for news among consumers remains a constant. Technology provides ever more ways to get the news than ever. 

What Was Watergate? A war against the anti-war movement, justice, the media, Democrats, and history, Woodward and Bernstein wrote in a 40-year retrospective. “Nixon was much worse than we thought.”

Students speculate on how Watergate might be covered in the digital age. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein discuss. “I have attempted to apply some corrective information to them,” Woodward said, “but the basic point is: The truth of what goes on is not on the Internet. [The Internet] can supplement. It can help advance. But the truth resides with people. Human sources.” Bernstein expressed doubt whether the Watergate story would be taken as seriously by the culture. “We had a readership that was much more open to real fact than today,” Bernstein said. “Today there’s a huge audience, partly whipped into shape by the 24-hour cycle, that is looking for information to confirm their already-held political-cultural-religious beliefs/ideologies, and that is the cauldron into which all information is put. . . .”

What made ‘Deep Throat’ cough up? “Holland concludes with the observation that “Felt’s success at manipulating the media is a cautionary tale.” In Holland’s version of the Felt-Woodward relationship, there was less honor on either side than the book, or the movie, or certainly the legend would have it. But try denting a legend!”

Woodward and Bernstein tackle the “myths of Watergate.”

“Could We Uncover Watergate Today?” by Len Downie, Washington Post, 2008. “The conspiracy and the cover-up would unravel much more quickly — and their political impact would probably be felt much sooner. Nixon was re-elected five months after the burglary in 1972, and Watergate was not much of an issue during the campaign. That would not happen today.”

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