How does All the President's Men show that a free and independent press is essential to the operating of a democratic government?
All the President's Men was published in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate scandal, in 1974. It is essentially a memoir of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post journalists who played a large role in shedding light on the illegal activities of the Nixon White House in the wake of the break-ins at the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate hotel in 1972. The book is written in very straightforward, spare prose, and essentially provides a day-by-day account of the relentless efforts of these two young writers to get to the bottom of the cover-up. Woodward and Bernstein are not given to statements of their own importance, or the role of the media in the book, which does not really feature a thesis or argument. But what does emerge in the book is a sense of the seriousness of the crimes of the Nixon Administration. The cover-up that followed the break-ins involved, as the reporters revealed, abuses of power on an unprecedented level. Woodward and Bernstein did not make the revelations that caused Nixon to resign--these came up during the Watergate Senate hearings and with the release of the White House tapes--but they helped keep the scandal in the national consciousness. It was their reporting, as related in the book, that ultimately made it impossible for the Nixon Administration to simply sweep the incident under the rug. For a democracy to exist, its leaders have to be accountable to the people they represent. All the President's Men demonstrates how the media, free to report the facts, can hold government officials responsible for their actions when the government fails to do so itself.