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All the President’s Men - Leadership and EthicsAll the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics


All the President’s Men (1976)


Famous for...

Its portrayal of Watergate, the political scandal that eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

It was revealed that (with the help of the FBI and the CIA) Nixon sanctioned:

  • a corrupt dirty tricks campaign against his Democratic opponents.
  • burglary and illegal phone tapping in 1972 at the Watergate hotel in Washington, the Democrats’ headquarters.

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

Based on...

The book, All the President’s Men, by the two Washington Post journalists who publicized Watergate:

  • Carl Bernstein.
  • Bob Woodward.

They are pictured right during Watergate (Bernstein is on the left)

Their White House informant was nicknamed Deep Throat (in 2005 revealed as the FBI’s deputy director, Mark Felt).

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

Who the film doesn’t mention...

Katherine Graham, the Washington Post owner (pictured right with Bernstein, left, and Woodward during Watergate)

She gave vital support to Bernstein and Woodward.



Alan J. Pakula



Four (including best supporting actor, Jason Robards, and best screenplay)

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

Key characters

Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), Washington Post reporters (pictured right - Redford is on the left).

Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards, pictured right below), their boss and editor.

Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) , their informant.

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

The story

Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, are asked to investigate a burglary and phone tapping of the Democratic Party’s National Committee at the Watergate hotel, Washington, on June 17, 1972.

Woodward links this break-in to one of President Nixon’s aides, Charles Colson.

Woodward and Bernstein are helped by a White House informant, nicknamed Deep Throat, who always meets Woodward in an underground car park.

(Deep Throat, Hal Hoolbrook, is pictured right below in the film)All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

Supported by their editor, Ben Bradlee, they gradually reveal the Watergate scandal, bravely resisting intense hostility and denial from the White House.

Deep Throat finally tells Woodward that Nixon’s top aide, Bob Haldeman, masterminded the Watergate break-in.

Nixon  is eventually forced to resign on August 9 1974 (announced in a type written headline at the end of the film).


What does it say about Nixon’s leadership?

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

1. Principles are paramount

Nixon (pictured right during Watergate) ignored the American Constitution’s ideals of freedom and democracy.

Woodward, Bernstein and Bradlee fought for these ideals despite:

  • death threats.
  • intense pressure from the Nixon government.

 All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

2. Don’t forget your followers

Nixon was doomed when he thought that power was more important than the people.


3. Morals matter

Nixon’s illegal actions shocked the American people, who believed that the president should be a moral example for everyone.All the president’s Men - Leadership and Ethics

Nixon’s cynical ruthlessness is summarized by a caption on the office wall of his adviser Charles Colson (pictured right in 1969):

“When you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”


Key quotes on politics

Nothing’s riding on this except the first amendment of the Constitution, freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country”, Ben Bradlee (to Woodward and Bernstein about the Watergate story)

Follow the money, Deep Throat (advising Woodward that tracing Nixon’s financial contributions was the key to understanding Watergate).


Two film websites to recommend

1. filmsite.org (run by Tim Dirks).

2. aveleyman.com (run by Tony Sullivan)

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