Politics. This is something that we as Americans are constantly involved in from the moment we are, whether you realize it or not. If you think that you are not exposed or you don’t care, then you have great privilege, I would know because I am one of those as a cis-white male. One thing though, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, that has remained constant throughout our lifetime has been a free press, which is now being attacked, and I want to use the fantastic film All the President’s Men as reasoning as to why we need journalists and what they provide.
Before you start saying, this is an A&E writer, what does he know about politics and then call me a liberal snowflake, I have been paying attention to politics since I was fifteen years old and I am currently the political and world news writer for Coastline News. I stay up to date on everything and I base everything through a veil of objectivity, even though I fall into very liberal territory politically.
First things first though, I want to start off by saying that All the President’s Men is a fantastic film. It is well-written, well-acted, well-directed, and above all else, important. It is based on the two reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who broke story on the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, which essentially ruined the Nixon administration.
What does this have to do with modern day politics though you may ask? Well, they are actually a lot of similarities between the Nixon administration and where we are now as a country. Nixon called the press the enemy. Sound familiar? It should. Nixon also said that the articles that Woodward and Bernstein wrote for The Washington Post were false. While not said in these exact words, the sentiment has been ever-present in the past year.
If you really can’t think of anything right now that has been similar to these comments, President Trump has called the media “false, fake news, and unfair.” This is essentially an attack on the First Amendment and the freedom of press that has been to all journalists in the country. The reason for this is uncertain right now, but if there is any resemblance to Nixon’s administration at all, then they are saying this to hide serious ethically compromising and possibly illegal dealings. This has recently been exemplified by the resignation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who resigned after The Wall Street Journal reported that he was under investigation by US counterintelligence agents for communications with Russian official while President Obama was still in office.
To get back to All the President’s Men though, this film exemplifies why we need journalists, specifically print. It shows the process that these people go through in order to get the information that they print. They don’t print what they aren’t sure of and they don’t make things up. Their job is painstaking and they don’t traffic is falsities. Some journalists publish incorrect information and the good ones acknowledge their mistakes, because let’s face it, we’re all human. This film shows that journalists are those that keep governmental officials honest.
What this film says about journalism and about journalists is still true today, that message is just a bit more muddled with the Internet. Both sides publish false information, but there are many sources, such as BBC, ABC News, NPR, and The Wall Street Journal. These sources are not infallible though, but are consistently of high quality.
With history repeating itself when it comes to attacks on the media, there needs to be a realization that this is not normal. It isn’t normal to call the media “fake” or “dishonest” simply because you don’t like what they’re reporting about an administration. It isn’t normal to attack the very institution that America has been built off of. Journalists aren’t out to ruin America, but simply to report what is happening and, if that is in turn, harmful, then so be it. They aren’t out to lie and destroy America. If you don’t believe me, watch All the President’s Men or read the novel of the same name.