Editor’s note: Forty years after Richard Nixon left public office, he remains in college journalism textbooks merely a stage prop used to set the scene for the heroics of the intrepid Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. But as our own Ben Stein noted in this 1974 review of All the President’s Men, a book-length treatment of the Watergate investigation, the duo’s greatest talent is perhaps not reporting but self-promotion. They have, after all, convinced a generation of moviegoers that they singlehandely—well, perhaps doublehandedly—felled a United States president.
At one point in the story of how two reporters for the Washington Post covered the Watergate story and broke much new ground in it, the following lines occur: “They had not broken the law…that much seemed certain. But they had sailed around it and exposed others to danger. They had chosen expediency over principle and, caught in their act, their role had been covered up. They had dodged, evaded, misrepresented, suggested, and intimidated, even if they had not lied outright.”