329--Week 15 Questions/Comments

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1 Movie as secondary source about the past (What did it get right? What did it get wrong?)

a Right:

I'm going to assume that all of the video clips and radio broadcasts were the originals, so showing the clips and audio clips of the time brings authenticity to the movie. Seeing as the movie was released only a few years after the scandal dissipated, and two years after Nixon's resignation, it feels real. Nixon's impeachment hearings made history back in the 1970s, and much like 9/11 was to us in 2003, people remember how they felt during that time. It's akin to Best Years of Our Lives in that it's so close to the event. Unlike in the Patriot where people were acting as people who lived two hundred years ago, these actors -remember-. -Lauren

The movie does a good job showing the secrecy of the entire scandal. Everyone involved is afraid to say what they know because of how high up the conspiracy went. The movie did a good job of showing the problems that Woodward and Bernstein faced in getting their information confirmed and finding a legitimate source. Even though Deep Throat had a huge amount of involvement in feeding information to the reporters I was surprised at how little he appeared in the movie. -- Kellye Sorber

In response to Kellye's comment about Deep Throat, I thought his role in the movie was sufficient. In the film, it seemed that Woodward only went to his source when he and Bernstein ran into a road-block during their investigation (which was often). Furthermore, a lot of people thought DT wasn't as helpful to Woodward, based on the movie. I can only imagine the position DT was in, torn between compromising his position at the FBI and doing what is just and patriotic. I also wondered why DT only met with Woodward and not Bernstein, but apparently DT was only Woodward's source and DT never met Bernstein at all during the investigation. This was key when Felt (DT) was asked if he ever leaked information to Woodward AND Bernstein. According to the book, Woodward wondered if Felt denied this and got out of it b/c of a technicality (he only leaked info to Woodward). - David F.

The movie also did a good job with pulling all the important names of those involved in Watergate. While pulling the names out of people they seemed to reconnect everyone back to all of those involved, helping their case. -- Kellye Sorber

I thought the movie did a good job showing all the intricacies involved in writing a breaking news story. The doubt on behalf of the papers editors. The confirmation and then denial by sources as the story came out. The long hours spent tracking people down to get information. It is surprising they were able to write the story at all.- Christine W.

The hectic, and pervasive, nature of reporting political scandals was definitely accurate. I'm sure everyone remembers how the hanging chad stories were EVERYWHERE until Bush tripped and fell into office. -Cash Nelson

I mean, "was elected President." -Cash Nelson

In the movie Woodward and Bernstein said CREEP started their electoral sabotage in 1971, with Edmund Muskie being the main target. The dirty tricks worked on Muskie, he wept to the press (in defense of his wife), and his campaign quickly fell apart. This move served up the Democratic nomination to the Liberal George McGovern, who was an easy candidate for Nixon to beat. By adding this into the film, we are able to see how far-reaching and ruthless CREEP was. -Jason Ward

The film didn't do a ton to explain this in detail, but through the newspaper headlines we see that Eagleton was picked as the original VP but then in other news snippets we see that McGovern is forced to be dropped from the ticket. Then in one of the planning meetings the editors joke over how nobody wants to take the now vacant VP spot, referencing the names mentioned in class. While this was something that fell outside of the focus of the film, it was nice to see that it was subtly worked into the story.- Bryan Mull

All the women shown working in this movie were doing various types of secretarial work, and not working as say reporters. I'm guessing this is an accurate portrayal of working women of this time, since this movie took place during the woman's rights movement. -Katherine Stinson


I wondered for a while why "Woodstein" always introduced themselves as "Hi this is ____ from the Washington Post," and then go on. But then I realized that it was important (at least back then) for reporters to identify themselves. I felt that the "on record" vs "off record" barriers were really clearly defined. Somehow I am a little skeptical that reporters today are so gracious and just, though I haven't been interviewed by the Washington Post recently so how do I really know? - Elle


I felt the movie did a pretty good job of portraying the relationship of Bernstein and Woodward. Though they worked together in the movie their were several signs that they didn't particularly like each other since they would do things without telling each other about it and they were portrayed a bit competitive. This movie also does a good job at showing the depth and significance of CREEP in showing just how deep they were in the American government and talking about the various things they were involved in. - Jonathan Bell

Overall, I think the movie was pretty accurate about describing the Watergate happenings and the people involved and their actions. Whether it was right about Woodstein’s investigative processes, I couldn’t really say since we didn’t go too deep on that in class, and I haven’t read Woodstein’s book. However, because the movie was based on their book, I’ll assume it was fairly accurate. Of course we also have to keep in mind that the book likely embellished a few things… for instance, it seems the supposed methods of communication with Deep Throat that Woodstein wrote about are factually questionable. --Taylor Brann

I thought they did a great job in using the proximity of the time the film was made to the actual events without abusing it. We could see clearly the disbelief of the general public (well not too much of that actually) and of the editors themselves (not only because of fear of risking journalistic integrity--but because generally people trusted that the government did not do sleazy, illegal stuff, at least not at the Presidential level). I thought the movie approached representing opinions and reasoning behind secrecy and such was really well done-- maybe, again, because the movie and the characters seemed so real, as it was made recently after the events. --Jackie Reed

Smoking in the newsroom, elevators, and just about everywhere else? Must be the 1970s! - Sarah Richardson

I liked how the movie gave a little information on Woodward and Bernstein’s background. Like in the lecture, the film said information about the two men growing up briefly and how they ended up at the Washington Post. (One man working as a paper boy, the other graduating from well known colleges)- Ashley Scutari

I really loved the way that the news-gathering aspects were handled in this movie. As a fellow news writer, I can say that the need to run everything by an editor, double-check quotes and sources, and find delicate ways to handle delicate subjects (like, say, my meth-dealing landlord) was all accurately depicted. Trust me, you haven't lived until you have a player tell you to "F*** Yourself" in response to a question after a loss. -Cash Nelson

The movie provides an in depth insight into what life as a reporter could be like. The movie captures the essence of Bernstein and Woodward's constant attempts to gather information and uncover the truth. The movie accurately portrays Bernstein and Woodward’s sources, the depiction of the people in the scandal, and the context of the whole situation. The actual footage from Nixon’s inauguration also adds to the historical accuracy of the film. The film also suggests the consequences of publishing factual and questionable articles and what effect they would have on a newspaper firm, the general public, and even the fate of the Presidency. –James Drury

b Inaccurate/issues:

Perhaps things have changed since the 70s, but how did Woodstein never get caught in traffic? I mean this is DC we are talking about here. -Bryan Mull

I am curious as to whether the safety of Woodward and Bernstein was played up for the sake of the film? Certainly they were being spied on, but did they really have to fear their lives? That whole fear aspect seemed a bit awkward in the film and I am curious if it was a real fear or something played up to add tension in the film?- Bryan Mull

In response to Bryan-- I think that when a dude who works for the FBI makes you meet him in a parking garage in the middle of the night over a period of about 8 months and finally tells you that people in every part and in every level of the government are involved as conspirators to do illegal bidding for the President, anyone would get freaked out that he was being watched or bugged or possibly endangered. So even if Woodward and Burnstein weren't being spied on--I think they at least had just cause to fear that they might be in the context of the movie.-- Jackie Reed

In the book and in the movie, Woodward would put the flag up whenever he wanted to meet w/ Deep Throat, and DT would mark the NY Times in case he wanted to meet w/ Woodward. However, the movie primarily showed Woodward making an effort to meet DT. How often did DT request to meet w/ Woodward? - David F.

I have a hard time believing that it was so easy to get into contact with high ranking White House officials. I am fairly certain that White House security was not that lax. Woodward and Bernstein would need to get into contact with someone and could just call the direct lines to their secretaries. I may be wrong but this seems unrealistic to me. --Mallory C.

Like Mallory, it concerned me how easily Woodstein was able to call and either get secretaries of very high ranking White House officials or even the officials themselves. And the way people would just give up information on where someone was amazed me. You would think that someone who was the Special Council to the President wouldn't be able to be tracked down with the ease of just "oh he's actually in this office right now, let me give you that number." It seems really odd to me. -Kelly Wuyscik

The officials, hell! Maybe this is just my reaction to a post-9/11 world, but would Bob Woodward REALLY have been able to call THE WHITE HOUSE ITSELF directly back then? -Cash Nelson

My issue with the movie is that the film portrayed Woodward and Bernstein as the heroes of the investigation: the only guys willing to bring down the high-ranking bullies of the government. Although the film alludes to the on-going special investigation by the Grand Jury, "Woodstein" seem to get all the credit for the discovery of the cover-up and the ultimate downfall of President Nixon.~Juliann Boyles

Another issue I have with the film is the lack of mention by Woodward or Bernstein of Nixon's involvement. Their investigation seems to end when they finally get confirmation of Halderman.It doesn't make sense to me that this ruthless reporting team would just stop at Halderman and not link the trail to Nixon. Since the legacy of Watergate is centered around President Nixon, why wouldn't the movie at least allude to the President's involvement? ~Juliann Boyles

I agree with Mallory sort of. It was surprising to me in the beginning that a librarian would be perfectly willing to look up and divulge the for any old person calling up on the phone the requested materials or checked out materials of patron of the library... and the White HOuse library! Really? She quickly gets intercepted and told to change her story but what was she doing giving that information in the first place. Even in regular old public libraries, personal check-out accounts are supposed to be private. Did people not care as much back then? Also in Juliann's point about where the movie ends... I think it gets cut off there not to say that Woodstein stopped their investigation and journalism on the topic but that that was the key piece of the puzzle that lead to the house of cards falling down. Once they get the magnitude of the scandal revealed, other reporters, newspapers, and the public investigations are probably on equal footing with them and the movie can't continue with them as the courageous, lone detectives. But I do find it interesting that, except for in the closing typewriting scene, they really don't go as far as accusing Nixon of being a major conspirator or knowingly involved-- was it because the movie was made practically in the then-present day?--Jackie Reed

I think probably the biggest fault of the movie for me is how it ends. For one, it’s very abrupt. However, the largest issue is that there is no recognition of the other contributions made to the Watergate case. Of course the movie is about Woodstein investigating Watergate, so I expect it to be about them rather than other aspects of the investigation involving the courts and Congress and what not. I don’t even think the other investigations necessarily had to be mentioned during the movie itself. The problem comes with the ending where it’s not even acknowledged that there was more investigation going on other than Woodstein’s. The movie makes it appear that only the Washington Post reports brought light to the corruption in the White House. All it would’ve taken was an informational card at the end to satisfy me. --Taylor Brann

I rather liked the ending, Taylor. Much like No Country For Old Men, it was an ending that left the viewer to reflect on the preceding events and make their own conclusions as to how everything panned out. -Cash Nelson

To harp on the same thing I did last week: we are the heroes of our own lives. A movie can not be made without overplaying Woostein's role in the investigation if it is based on a book written by the two journalists. - JT Newcomb

I realize that everyone has commented on this but I can't believe that Wood ward or Bernstein could have gotten a hold of these officials so easily. Which leaves me to wonder why the would a High ranked official would even talk to these guys. They do seem to be attack there friends already. I am pretty sure they are going to do the same thing if they talk to either of these guys.--- Matt DeMarr

3 Movie as primary source about makers/time/setting/genre

Would this movie really be a secondary source about the Watergate scandal? Dr. McClurken said that the filmmaker was thinking about making the movie as the scandal was happening and that the rights to make a movie out of the book was bought some time around then.-Lauren

One revelation that the movie showed through Woodstein's work that I think is important is how the dirty tricks had been going on since long before the Watergate break-in, back at least to the formation of CREEP. At one point, Bradlee told Woodstein that only half the public polled had heard of the name Watergate. We know that by the time Nixon resigned, the whole nation knew about it, but they may not have known just how far back it went. With all Woodstein's investigation and the stated realization of how much larger the issue was than the break-in, this shows that CREEP's workings had been successfully kept secret for a long time. -Whitney Holcomb.

I feel like it would be tough for this movie to be considered as a primary source on the scandal itself. It was focused much more on Woodward and Bernstein, as we were warned, and although it did discuss the scandal, it didn't really cover all of it. A lot of it was based on the early findings and discoveries and how long it took Woodward and Bernstein to piece everything together and kind of breezed over everything that happened in about 30 seconds at the end of the movie. But it could definitely be used as a source looking at Woodward and Bernstein and their interactions at the Washington Post. But I think that the movie can also be worked into that "Best Years of Our Lives" genre in that it was made around the time of the actual event. The clothes were authentic and it nearly killed me, as was Dustin Hoffman's beautifully feathered hair. -Kelly Wuyscik

I definitely agree with Kelly (not about the clothing though because the 70s are totally back right now and Redford/Hoffman are dead sexy in this film) about what the film really focuses on. I think it is a really fascinating look at the Washington Post back then. I would be interested to read more about the changes in policy, tendencies of its editors, and its general reputation comparatively over time (they take a lot of heat in the film but it must have been pretty revolutionizing and aggrandizing for the Post's future).--Jackie Reed

The depiction of Deep Throat in All the President’s Men is reflective of the public’s perception of him rather than reality. The filming shows him as highly secretive without showing his face most of the time. I would be interested to read the book to see if Deep Throat is portrayed the same way. – Wesley Weeks

4 Public reaction/impact

I feel the movie definitely helped to republicize the Watergate Scandal, especially since it was released only a few years later. The movie definitely would have had some impact on the 1976 presidential election since it came out months before, resulting in the Democrats winning the presidency. -- Kellye Sorber

I have to agree with Kellye, this movie may have definitely helped to push people over to Democrats in 1976 because they were reminded right before the election about the Watergate Scandal and that many Republicans tried to cover it up and lied about it.--Ashley Wilkins

I agree with Kellye and Ashley that this film probably had at least a small impact on the 1976 election. After all, it showcases a corrupt government and intelligence system. Not only was Jimmy Carter a Democrat, but he was also a "Beltway outsider." Just the type of candidate America tends to favor after a Watergate-esque scandal. - Sarah Richardson

I agree with all three, the public reaction in way was one of the first times society didn’t know what side to trust nor should they trust either side. It definitely opened the public’s eye about the corruption in politics.- Ashley Scutari

5 Other movies/questions of style/framing/storyline

In the beginning, there was darkness and it was good; then there was a loud and jolting noise of a typewriter. I wonder if the filmmakers did that to convey how the American were in relation to knowing what was going on with President Nixon? The people were happy because they didn't know what was happening, then Woodstein reported what their investigation had uncovered and since they wrote via the typewriter, that machine woke the population up with a startle.-Lauren

I liked the way the movie ended with the stream of headlines. It just showed that how once the story came out it snowballed into this big scandal ending with the resignation of Nixon. - Christine W.

Tagging onto Christine's comment, I think it was a very important preface to the movie that McClurken specified that it was a movie about the Washington Post breaking the story of Watergate. Part of me was like "what? we didn't see what actually happens!" but we did see the Post succeed in cracking the story, and the trial and all those details were irrelevant to the Post story. - Elle

I like that it shows the half-legitimate ways Woodstein were "confirming" information from sources. They could be very indirect, without making the people being questioned explicitly state an answer, effectively getting information from those who didn't want to talk. My favorite was when Bernstein counted to ten on the phone about Haldeman. Also, there was getting the bookkeeper to nod at the initials L, M, and P. Third, when they got Sloan to finally say that he "would not have a problem" with their accusatory article if they published it. -Whitney Holcomb

In reference to Dr. M's reference to the Orioles in lecture, I recognized the actor who played Rosenfeld, Jack Warden, as Juror 7 from 12 Angry Men. He was the guy who kept wanting to reach a verdict quickly because he had Yankees tickets and said the line which still resonates for dopes like me who still root for the O's: "Baltimore? That's like being hit in the head with a crow bar once a day. " Ugh. -Bryan Mull

I too am a Baltimore sports fan! Baltimore Sports teams have been quite successful considering none of their franchises are ancient. The Colts were only in Baltimore for roughly 30 years yet had many championships to boast. They were also involved in some of the most pivotal games in NFL history: the 1958 Championship game versus the New York Giants which ushered in the era of televised football, Super Bowl III where the upstart New York Jets from the Mickey Mouse League (the AFL) beat the Colts in one of the biggest upsets leading to the merger in 1970, and "the ghost to the post" game in 1977 vs. the Raiders. The Orioles were a great team in the late '60s and early '70s and could have won even more championships. Cal Ripken will go down as one of the best and purest players in the game, now if he could just take over the team they could return to prominence. Now to my point, I think this is an important movie because without the Post article (or any other press investigation of the break-in) there is a good chance that the crimes of the Nixon administration would have gone unchecked. Movies like Stone's Nixon do not place much emphasis on the Post article, but without Woodstein's work would there have been a resignation? - Jason Ward

A lot of the methods of historical movies talked about in "Reel History" are present in this movie. Historic TV clips were used throughout the movie and did a good job of helping contributing to the historic feel of the movie. They also follow the method of the protagonist character Bernstein and Woodward and villian character CREEP and those involved with the coverup. There is always a feeling of paranoia throughout the movie showed by the dark scenes and especially when Woodward meets with Bernstein to show the potential danger even when it never directly shows any characters planning to do anything against Woodward and Bernstein. There is also the resolution at the end of the movie that shows the success of the protagonists. - Jonathan Bell

I enjoyed the way the filmmakers incorporated actual television and sound clips into the narrative. They are interspersed throughout the film, giving the audience historical and political context, yet they are not the primary focus. This is Woodward and Bernstein's story, as Dr. McClurken mentioned in class. - Sarah Richardson

6 Overall Comments on Movie

This movie is great because it shows the media at its best. The Press is supposed to do what Woodward and Bernstein did. They didn’t let a two-bit break-in fall through the cracks, they saw something more to this story and pursued the truth. What they eventually uncovered was a culture of corruption and cover-up. By revealing the abhorrent nature of Nixonian politics Woodward and Bernstein were able to stop an immoral man from gaining more power at the expense of others. All the President’s Men and the Woodstein story in general is the paragon of journalism.-Jason Ward

While I completely agree that this type of journalism is vital to preserving democracy, does anyone feel like in the post-Watergate world we are too quick in assuming the worst of our politicians (perhaps this is a bad question in the post Bush era)? This was a sentiment brought up in a book I had to read for another class which addressed declining voter turnout, and I was curious if anyone else felt that the media now perhaps tries too hard to uncover the next Watergate? The book (The Vanishing Voter) argues that the media has taken a "never again" type stance toward political corruption and that this has at times led to overly negative news coverage, which has in turn depressed voters into apathy towards the whole political process. Is this a change in the practices of the media, or has this simply been exacerbated by the 24/7 news hole? This is a tricky situation in that we need to be kept abreast of these types of abuses, but after a while every little lead on political corruption does take its toll.-Bryan Mull

Love this movie. Hoffman's best, certainly top-5 for Redford. And being a guy who was almost named after Jason Robards, I loved seeing him get a role that he absolutely rocked. It may not have been thrillingly suspenseful, but like so many great dramas, it had a perfect slow-burn story. And really, as much as I love it, after Born On The Fourth, wasn't it nice to have an out of class movie that wasn't soul-crushing? -Cash Nelson

I have a new favorite film of the semester! It's largely because I like the suspense, that Woodstein is two non-police people working together to solve this huge multi-layered case, skillfully tracking down and extracting information from people, and not letting anything stand in their way. -Whitney Holcomb

This was more of a lecture thing, but I did not realize how popular Nixon was. “Nixon and the environment”, “Nixon and China”, even “Nixon and Vietnam” seemed to all be pluses for him- and his approval ratings showed it. Nixon was an effective President, but because of Watergate I suppose that effectiveness will always be suspect. Because of the aforementioned reasons I kept asking myself, why would Nixon do this? Why would he utterly destroy his opponents when he had achieved rather impressive political feats?(I guess that begs the question: did he only have successes because of the obliteration of his opponents?) Either way I came to the conclusion, as have many others, that Nixon was a man so fraught with insecurity that he could never be satisfied with his successes. Nixon was so plagued by his past failures that he was determined to have as much power as possible. The Alger Hiss case and The Checkers Speech were our warnings, but alas!-Jason Ward

I was very glad that the -Gate phenomenon was referenced in lecture. That is something that seriously drives me nuts. Who decides what gets -Gate status anyway? Why is there a Troopergate and Cigargate, but other political scandals get off the -Gate hook, so to speak? Why wasn't John Edwards' cheating scandal called Infidelity-gate, or Dick Cheney's hunting incident a few years back Shot-in-the-face-gate? Is there some unwritten journalist code that determines this naming process? And just last year this practice made its way into the sports world with the Spygate scandal that tainted the Patriots' undefeated regular season. What happens if there is a scandal involving an American spy in the future? Does this theoretical incident then get dubbed Spygate II, or does it get a less cool sounding -Gate name, I mean shouldn't real life spies get first dibs on the -Gate name? What happens when there is a political scandal on the Golden Gate Bridge, is it then called Golden Gate-Gate or is that too stupid? What if there is a scandal literally involving a gate? Does this bother anyone else? Is it sad that I can muster more vitriol over something trivial like a scandal naming process rather than the scandal that supplied the name in the first place? Can I fit any more questions into a wiki-post?- Bryan Mull

So I did some research and apparently there are 3 (!) Troopergates, 2 Spygates (both of which were sports related, as real spies the world over are no doubt shaking their heads in dismay) and 2 Grannygates. Also, there is an Iguanagate, a Tasergate (Sweet), and even a Bingogate. -Bryan Mull

Niiiice. Well said. And no, I don't think it's sad that you've mustered this much vitriol about a trivial aspect. I do the same thing sometimes. However, that may mean I'm just a sad case, too. -Whitney Holcomb

Hey, to be fair, Spygate revealed to everyone what the Pittsburgh Steelers reminded us of on Sunday. The Patriots can't win without cheating. -Cash Nelson

Kind of sad that the name combo has degenerated in much the same way as the -Gate phenomenon. Where Woodstein was a combo of two young journalists on the rise, now we are subjected to Bennifer, Branjelina and others. I blame Nixon.-Bryan Mull

I was surprised by how small a role Deep Throat seemed to play in the film. He is referenced so much in pop culture and has been parodied by The Simpsons AND Family Guy, so he seems like a big deal. In the movie, though, he didn't really do much or even seem to help that much. I guess I was just surprised by the amount of controversy over DT contrasted with what seems to be the role he played. --Amanda Russell

Quite possibly the last time "small" and "deepthroat" will ever be used in the same sentence. -Cash Nelson

Unfortunately, I'm in the minority so far... I really didn't like the movie, I kept staring at the time elapse to see how much time was left in the film. I was hoping I would like it because it sounded similar to the film I did for my project, but I just couldn't get into this one. --Ashley Wilkins

All the President's Men had an interesting way of telling the Watergate Scandal. As we learned about the scandal yesterday we went from the inside out, whereas in the film we go from the outside in. It definitely gives a different but very informative perspective. I also found it interesting how little of a part Nixon played. Aside from the various news clips, which did give the movie an accurate feel, his name was not mentioned as often as other White House names. The movie focused more on his lackeys. --Mallory C.

I liked the movie but absolutely hated how it ended. You're going to make me sit there for 2 1/2 hours to watch all the build up of the break on the scandal and then breeze over Nixon resigning and all of the repercussions? I don't think so. If you're going to build up to the scandal breaking, at least make the movie climactic. Seriously. -Kelly Wuyscik

In a way, I think the movie was most accurate in that I had trouble following what exactly was going on when they were throwing out all the names and piecing things together. Usually, I like to know what’s happening in a movie, and I get annoyed when I don’t. However, considering this movie is about Watergate, it seems appropriate that the story is convoluted. I had trouble keeping track of everyone being mentioned in class on Tuesday, so it only makes sense that I have the same problem with the movie too. Watergate is simply not an easy topic to follow unless you want a headache. --Taylor Brann

Just as a side comment: it was a little distracting to see Dustin Hoffman turn around and suddenly look like a lady. It was probably the long hair and tiny, thin body. I think the flared pants also had a little to do with it, though they were accurate for the time period. And standing next to Robert Redford certainly didn’t help. Not at all. Poor guy. --Taylor Brann

If this movie was not the most historically accurate we've examined in this class, I believe it was at least the most effective. It's errors, where they occur, are slight and do not detract from the telling of a historical event. After some of the ridiculous at portraying history we have seen throughout the semester, I am tremendously impressed by All The President's Men. I would have been tempted to watch it two or three times just in the last two days, mistakes significant enough to negatively effect the film's ability to tell it's story. As long as we take this story as a small piece of a greater event, this movie is incredible. - JT Newcomb

I enjoyed the movie; I think it was pretty accurate in describing how Woodward and Bernstein were able to prove the Watergate Scandal. For me it was one of those movies I need to see twice to really get the full understanding of it because there are some many hints and characters they showed in the film. –Ashley Scutari

The movie did an excellent job blending in clips from the time into the movie making it seem more real. The movie also did well capturing the paranoia of the time which could have been missed even if it was accurate to the historical details. – Wesley Weeks

Was it just me, or were there a TON of F-Bombs considering it was PG? -Cash Nelson

Comments on Reading in Reel History

"Reel History" mentioned how the other important figures involved in uncovering Watergate are never really talked about in the movie. I think it is reasonable in this movie because the movie never shows what really happens to cause Nixon to resign and never shows anything of what happens in the courts. The movie really is not about the Watergate Scandal, but about the role of Bernstein and Woodward in investigating the scandal. I think the primary message the movie is presenting is that Bernstein and Woodward helped pave the way towards the exposure of Nixon even if they did not have the big role in the Nixon investigations. - Jonathan Bell

I have to say, I liked how Toplin commented, in "Reel History," that even if a historical film is horrible there is usually something correct about it, Such as the clothing or the backdrop setting. There are very few comprehensive failures. I really liked that, because we've had a variety of films this semester, ones that have been fairly awesome to not so much... (i.e. Pocahontas), but all of them have had some resounding correctness to it... even if just the backdrop scenery. --Ashley Wilkins

Toplin's criticism of the movie is that it portrays Woodstein as being solely responsible for investigating and uncovering the Watergate scandal. I actually think that the film spent a good amount of time on the Post editors, Sloan, Segretti, the woman in charge of the money, etc. It seemed to show that they didn't do it all on their own, and they had a lot of help along the way. Maybe part of his criticism is the fact that, regardless of the other characters in the movie, society has remembered only Woodstein (when we've discussed all semester how historical films should convey actual history to people). --Amanda Russell

In this case of this movie, though applicable to many historical films, I don't think that criticism of creative license is overly important. For example, I don't care if the exchanges between Woodstein were word-for-word. What is important is conveying the big picture story. I will agree, as we have discussed all semester, that the addition of new things is often pointless and off-putting to historians; however, as Toplin says, historical evidence is so fragmented, it is impossible to convey all sides. George Kennan discusses this idea in an article we read in 299, where he says that a historian, at the time they are writing, can only see such a small portion of the historical truth, and always at an angle - it is impossible to see all evidence from all sides. We can't deny that historical books face the same problems, but the movies sure do get more people excited and interested (esp for a movie like this - how many kids wanted to grow up and be Wash Post reporters??) -- Amanda Russell

I wish we had read the middle section - pgs 90-138 - a little earlier in the semester. I really liked the idea of "faction." I feel like we have addressed some of the ideas in this section in class already, but it was interesting that historical films revolving around fictional characters have a higher success rate of impressing critics concerned about historical accuracy. I personally have mentioned this on the wiki before - for example in the Long Walk Home, I was happy to NOT see Rosa Parks and MLK attempted to be portrayed - instead, fictional characters represented themes and general things that happened during that period. I agree with Toplin that this is a more effective, and often times less criticized, method of portraying history in film. - Elle W.

Throughout this class, we have evaluated the historical accuracies and inaccuracies in historical films. At times, I feel as if our nitpicky attacks of historical inaccuracies as scholars might be too harsh. Several times throughout the reading, Toplin discussed the format of the historical film in Hollywood and how diversions from the formula can sometimes have financially disastrous consequences for directors. I agree with Toplin that it is more important for a historical film to portray the bigger picture, and sometimes the small fictional details which help make the movie more appealing to audiences do not matter that much. If a director inundated audiences with every historical detail and perspective, the movie most likely would not be very successful. If a movie is unable to reach a wide audience, than whatever story the director is attempting to tell gets lost in obscurity. ~Juliann Boyles

Toplin mentioned movies that attempt to recount one specific event or one or two historical figures are more prone to criticism because, well they are easier to criticize. The movies we have dubbed the most historically accurate this semester are ones that explain history from the "community's" perspective (Matewan, Gone With the Wind, Long Walk Home to name a few). Lately this semester, we have focused on historical films revolving around one or two characters - Born on the Fourth... and All The President's Men. These movies, along with my Cinderella Man project, have made me admire the efforts of these filmmakers focusing on one event or historical figure. While these films tend to be under the microscope when viewed by film critics and historians, when they are done accurately, it provides viewers with facts and a specific perspective about the time period. I personally enjoy these types of films because there is always another side to a story, but it's not always clear what that side is. History is never viewed by only one set of eyes, and movies are a great way to explore other visions. - David F.

Jonathan, I completely agree. This is, after all, a movie based on a book that Woodward and Bernstein wrote about their experience in the Watergate investigation. While Toplin is correct in that the other figures are mostly absent from the film, I don't think this is problematic. In my opinion, part of the film's strength is that it doesn't attempt to portray the entire Watergate fiasco. This film does very well what it sets out to do: provide the American public a glimpse into Woodward and Bernstein's Pulitzer-winning investigation that helped topple a president. This is a formidable feat in itself and doesn't require additional courtroom scenes or plotlines. - Sarah Richardson

was this movie shot in D.C.? If it was then it was very well done. It gave it a very authentic feel.-- Matt DeMarr