“All the President’s Men” Nixon v. Bush
I just watched "All the President's Men" again. Imagine getting that story with the "National Security" blanket that this administration uses on EVERYTHING. If it isn't national security it is "executive privilege. See Addington, David
I also noticed that in the movie the reporters were "hungry". They also weren't totally "of" the community. ("The Villagers" as Atrios, Digby and others have dubbed them). They had just enough connection on the edges to get to the sources. The good stuff wasn't totally from hanging out at cocktail parties. Granted they DID have to work the circuit for some sources, but lots of phone calls and meetings. Lots of people had to be involved for that story to happen, some at greater personal and professional risk than others. I wondered, "Were those people 'citizen journalists'"?
They were citizens, helping journalists.
And that is important.
Finally they had a great example of "group think" as represented by editor in charge of the foreign desk.
Scott, Foreign Editor: It's a dangerous story for this paper.
Ben Bradlee: How dangerous?
Scott, Foreign Editor: Well, it's not that we're using nameless sources that bothers me. Or that everything we print, the White House denies. Or that no other papers are reprinting our stuff.
Howard Simons: What then?
Scott, Foreign Editor: Look, there are two thousand reporters in this town, are there five on Watergate? When did the Washington Post suddenly get the monopoly on wisdom? Why would the republicans do it? McGovern's self-destructed just like Humphries, Muskie, the bunch of them. I don't believe this story. It doesn't make sense.
Doing something that the other papers don't do can be seen as leadership or foolishness. It makes you stand out from the crowd, but lots of people don't WANT you to stand out from the crowd. As my friend Dan says, "Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, other times it is replaced!"
What if you found out that what was declared classified because of "National Security" was REALLY classified because it was about protecting POLITICAL Security? Would that piss you off? I know that it would piss me off. I think that is what is happening now with the FISA bill. The capitulation (or compromise as it is called) is designed to never let the public see how the "National Security" card was played for either political security, financial security or both. The people who know of the abuses, the telecoms and the political players on both sides of the aisle, don't want you to know what they knew and when they knew it.
In the movie Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee
makes a comment to Woodward and Bernstein:
Nothing's riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys f*ck up again, I'm going to get mad. Goodnight.
Imagine a reporter at McClatchy with some hot info regarding WHY FISA is getting passed, "If you put this out you will not only bring down the President and Vice President (the weasel out of everything), but you will bring down congressmen and women, who were sucked into the fear of the time. You will be demonized as helping terrorists and a traitor by millions. They might send you to jail for not revealing your sources. We will back you for all that. But, what we are really concerned about is that Wall Street will punish us and kiss our telco ads goodbye."
Now THAT is pressure. I don't think the corporate newspapers have it in them anymore. Everything "rational" and financial says, "No!" Breaking this kind of story seems all downside for corporate profits and the country.
Maybe this story needs to be broken by someone like the Woodward and Bernstein were in the beginning of the movie. People who were "hungry." Hungry for truth. Hungry for justice. Not worried on keeping quarterly profits up or pissing off corporations like the telcos.
If a story about just how involved the Democrats are in the warrantless wiretapping, let's not give the Republicans a pass under the "They are all doing it." line. We can't just excuse people who are ALREADY on the side of regular law breaking. Yes we expect more of OUR leaders, but just because they lowered the bar on their behavior, doesn't mean that regular law breakers should be excused. That is one thing that always stuns me. I guess breaking the law is a feature, not a bug, for the Republicans.
We took a few lessons from Watergate. People in power in government will do terrible things to maintain their power, stupid things, unnecessary things. We should be able to know what those things are, maybe they will get sloppy and reveal those things, but maybe not. When in doubt, follow the money, and look for the people connections.
Of course Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld took other lessons from that experience. Such as, "Classify EVERYTHING as secret. It's ALL National Security, if WE say it is."
Finally, Redford played Woodward in the movie. In the movie of your life who do you want to play you?