Jenny LingJanuary 19, 2018Period 3Government/ ShumanFinal Assessment1. Briefly Summarize /write your own Synopsis of the filmOn June 19, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate complex notices a door of one of the offices open and alerts the cops. The police arrive and arrests five burglars in the Democratic National Committee headquarters office. The next morning, Bob Woodward, a junior reporter, goes down to the courthouse to investigate this case. He notices that even though none of the burglars have made any calls, they already have a local attorney.
Another reporter finds a note in one of the burglar’s notebooks containing the name of a White House employee. Woodward partners up with Carl Bernstein and they begin to investigate further. Woodward gets an anonymous source who calls himself “Deep Throat” and he meets him in a parking garage, where he is told to “follow the money.” The money trail leads to the Committee to Re-Elect the President, CREEP, whose task is to secure re-election for current president Richard Nixon, using any means necessary. After receiving a list of all of the CREEP employees and reaching out to them, the only person who will talk is the former bookkeeper for CREEP.
She however only reveals the initials of the high-ranking officials involved but Woodward and Bernstein manages to figure out the identities of these men and get other sources to confirm it. The money trail leads to H.R.
Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff and the two reporters write a report about their findings but the government denies everything. On top of that, Woodward and Bernstein is unable to get any of their sources to reveal themselves, creating a bad reputation for the Washington Post. Nevertheless, Ben Bradlee, the national news editor of the Washington Post, believes in them and allows them to keep investigating. Bernstein meets with Deep Throat and he finally confirms that Haldeman is the man behind the break-in. This is enough for Woodward and Bernstein to write their story, which gets published on January 20, 1973.
After a year, Nixon resigns and everyone involved in the Watergate scandal is punished.2. What do you think are the key themes of the film?Politics Perseverance Corruption of the GovernmentMedia’s rolePatriotismI. The Role of Media and Journalism:1. What is investigative journalism and what role does it play in our democracy?Investigative journalism is when journalists seek out the truth and verifies the facts of a story themselves. Instead of just reporting facts by other news sources and journalists, an investigative journalist has to investigate a case and write about their findings.
The news on television is not investigative journalism because the facts report are what what has been told to the announcers by others. Investigative journalism plays a big role in our democracy. It promotes democracy because it allows citizens to know the truth about their government.
2. What is the role of the anonymous source in the film and what role in our society, governance, media? (google who the anonymous source was and answer whether you think he was a hero or villain in the Watergate scandal.The anonymous source in the film is W. Mark Felt, second in command of the FBI, and his role was to provide information that was withheld by the government, allowing the facts of the scandal to be revealed to society. I believe Felt was a hero because his actions were beneficial for the country.
His actions were for the greater good of society. He couldn’t go to the prosecutors because his boss, the Attorney General of the United States, was a leading member of the scandal. Felt did the right thing although betraying his boss and the FBI but he did what he felt right and that was to reveal the corruption of the government. This helped strengthen the relation between the American government and its citizens.
3. Jonathan Alter, an editor for Newsweek Magazine, said that “If you don’t know what’s going on in your government, you don’t live in a democracy.” Do you agree or disagree?I agree with Jonathan Alter because in order for a democracy to work, the government must know how to appropriately respond to its people and the people must know what’s going on. Government officials will act in the public interest knowing that all of their actions are made public.4. Why did the reporters require that they get at least two sources for each fact that they reported?Reporters need to make sure that the facts they are told are true so they need another source to confirm it.
Reporters must doubt their sources and check the facts in order to not make any mistakes in their investigation. It could cost them their reputation and career if they get a story wrong. 5. How is the media environment of today different than the media environment of the 1970s? (quite a loaded question..
.).The media environment of today is much different than that of the 1970s because with today’s technology there were new articles out every second and anyone can access them or anywhere. In the 1970s one would have to wait a new day for that day’s newspaper. In addition, in the early 1970s, there were only a few national media options. Now there is a growth of news shows and digital media allows people to pick and choose what they want to know. In the past, most large cities had competing newspaper companies but now there is only one dominant newspaper. There is a rise of news organizations with clear biases who slant the news that they report and people get influenced by the articles they read.
II. The Watergate Scandal and the downfall of Richard Nixon1. What advantages could be gained in a presidential campaign by spying on the opposition? Advantages that could be gained in a presidential campaign by spying on the opposition would be being able to eliminate one’s opponent and appear more favorable than other candidates. Spies were often planted in other parties in order to report future plans the opposition has and to find out secrets that could be used to undermine the party. 2.
In what ways do “dirty tricks” played upon an opponent in an election actually undermine the democratic process?”Dirty tricks” played upon an opponent in an election actually undermine the democratic process because it would not be a fair election. There would be an obvious favorable candidate that everyone will vote for because of these tricks that were played and this would not be a true democratic election. Illegal acts dealing with elections corrupts the government and undermines our democracy. 3. How might ethical CIA and FBI agents have dealt with the illegal acts assigned to them in Nixon’s efforts to assure reelection?Ethical CIA and FBI agents would have revealed the corruption happening in the government. This is exactly what “Deep Throat”, Mark Felt did.
He was the second in command for the FBI and revealed to two journalist, Woodward and Bernstein, everything about the Watergate scandal but he did it as an anonymous source. His identity was kept a secret for thirty years after the scandal. 4. When should government officials refuse to obey a lawful order of the President of the United States?Government officials should refuse to obey a lawful order of the President of the United States when his orders interrupts the investigation of a crime based on criminal charges and when his orders undermine the democratic process. Former President Nixon kept ordering White House officials to fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor for the Watergate investigation. Richardson and Ruckelshaus both resigned rather than fire Cox. Solicitor General Robert Bork was the only one to have followed the President’s order and fired Cox.
This was a blow to Nixon’s credibility and talks of impeachment surfaced. Nixon’s actions were disrupting the process of the investigation and made him suspicious. He was also undermining the democratic process and in the process of dividing the country.III. Does Watergate = Russiagate1. What are the differences and the similarities between President Nixon’s actions in the Watergate scandal and President Trump’s administration and the current investigation? Are there parallel players? Who and what role/function did they serve in the Nixon Government (and scandal), and what role in the current administrationThe similarities between President Nixon’s actions in the Watergate scandal and President Trump’s administration and the current investigation includes the firing investigators and dirty campaign tricks.
The special prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Elliot Richardson to investigate the Watergate scandal was Archibald Cox. Cox was serious about the investigation and demanded for documents and tapes of Nixon’s conversations in the White House. Nixon quickly ordered Richardson to fire Cox but he refused and ended up resigning. Ruckelshaus was asked to fire Cox but he refused and resigned as well.
Solicitor General Robert Bork agreed to fire Cox, knowing that Nixon would not give up until Cox was fired. This was known as the Saturday Night Massacre, and seriously decreased his credibility. Similarly now, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey recently on the basis that he is incompetent for not being able to investigate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for sending government documents sufficiently. This was suspicious and is a parallel to the Watergate firings because the FBI is investigating whether there are connections between Russia and its interference in the 2016 elections and the Trump administration.
Furthermore, Nixon’s campaign hired political staff to play “dirty tricks” and disrupt the process of several Democratic candidates running for president. They allegedly followed members of Democratic candidates’ families, forged letters under the candidates, and leaked false information to the press, among other things. Similarly, Russians destabilized the 2016 U.S. elections by hacking the Democratic National Committee emails, which played in the Trump campaign’s favor. Those emails were given to the online leak site WikiLeaks and distributed over time.
In both cases, there is no proof whether or not the presidents, Nixon and Trump, were aware of the actions being committed by their campaign.The differences between President Nixon’s actions in the Watergate scandal and President Trump’s administration and the current investigation is that there is no special prosecutor yet and the party controlling Congress. In the Watergate investigation, Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox and Nixon was forced to agree to this. In our current administration, there is no calling for a special prosecutor into the Russia hacking case. In addition, the party controlling Congress is different from the 1970s. In Nixon’s time, the Congress was controlled by Democrats, and have distrusted Nixon, a Republican, for a long time. Democratic Senate members created the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, in order to investigate the whether the White House had a connection to the Watergate scandal and the claims of dirty tricks by Nixon’s campaign.
In our time, both the White House and Congress are controlled by Republicans, and Congress have been hesitant and quiet about the appointment of a special prosecutor or a deeper investigation into the Trump administration.2. President Ford was appointed to be Vice President by Richard Nixon on December 6, 1973, when the Watergate Scandal was already rocking Nixon’s administration. Some have charged that Mr. Ford was required to promise to pardon Nixon. President Ford has always adamantly denied that there was any quid pro quo that he would pardon Nixon. In his pardon of Nixon, President Ford stated that:”It is believed that a trial of Richard Nixon, if it became necessary, could not fairly begin until a year or more has elapsed. In the meantime, the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former President of the United States.
The prospects of such trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest elective office of the United States”.A. Do you think that the pardon of former President Nixon was a good thing to do? Explain your answer as it relates to what is best for a democratic society.
I do not think the pardon of Nixon was a good idea because since Nixon had appointed Ford to be his vice president, it seems that Nixon appointed him in exchange for the pardon. This makes it seem that the president is above the law even though he should not be.B.
Should there be indictments close to the current White House, and even the President himself – would pardons be appropriate. Why or why not.Pardons would be appropriate when there are indictments close to the President because a trial of a former President on criminal charges could divide the country and reveal secrets that will harm the American society and prevent the country from healing. This could break apart our democracy. IV: Film Analysis:1. List 4 facts described in the film that impressed you and explain how each fact relates to the film’s premise or theme.I was surprised by how different the media was from back then compared to now.
People had to wait every morning to read what was on the news but now there are news articles available every minute.The fact that the FBI and CIA were involved in the scandal surprised me because it’s scary to live in a corrupted society without even knowing it.The fact that this whole scandal was figured out by just two men was impressing. They must’ve been very perseverance. It was also impressing that one man, “Deep Throat”, decided to step up and tell the reporters what he knows even though he was risking his life. He risked his life for his country.
2. Was there anything that you saw or heard in the film that was unconvincing or which seemed out of place given your knowledge of our Government?It was unconvincing how two novice journalists could uncover so much evidence about the Watergate scandal. It was also weird how they could reach the higher ups of the government so easily and get information out of them. 3.
What particularly appealed to you in the cinematic presentation of the film, such as the way in which particular scenes, images, or sounds were presented?The way how the director incorporated the element of light into the presentation of the film was very appealing. Bright lights were used in the Washington Post press-room but the outdoor scenes were filmed in the dark. This creates a feeling of ominous and suspense as the reporters do their detective work. When Woodward meets Deep Throat, they are also filmed in the dark to show how secretive they had to be. The scene when Woodward and Bernstein researched the withdrawals of books in the Library of Congress was very impressive.
The camera focuses on Woodward and Bernstein at the center of the rings of research desks and then it zooms out to show the entire room, making them appear small and seem insignificant.4. Describe how it enhanced your knowledge of the Watergate scandal and how has it impacted your view about the current investigations of the Trump campaign and administration?All the President’s Men enhanced my knowledge of the Watergate scandal a lot.
It felt as if I was living through the era during the scandal, and experiencing what the journalist felt. It is truly frightening how many parallels this scandal has to the current Trump investigation. It feels as if history is repeating itself and it’s unnerving to see how the current investigation will go down.