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Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2011 - 16:45:13 

History & Government  

Watergate - The Role of Press in Politics
By Cynthia F. Kirkeby
Aug 23, 2006, 13:54 PST

Mindwalk (1991)


The Role of the Press in Politics

Movies in the Classroom


Courtesy of NARA

Grade Level - 7-12, college

Subject - American History

Keywords - American History, Watergate, Nixon, President, politics, ethics, film, movie, All The President’s Men, Washington Post reporter, cover-up, political, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Woodward, Berstein, Warner Brothers, Wildwood

Author - Cynthia F. Kirkeby     

Affiliation - ClassBrain, Inc.

Date - 28 April, 2002

Duration - 2-4 class periods



Nixon was considered an expert at controlling the media. However, from early in his career, Nixon considered the Press his enemy.  Always wary of the press corps, Watergate proved to be something to fear.

“On August 8, 1974, Richard M. Nixon addressed the nation for the final time. "I have never been a quitter," Nixon said. "To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body, but as president, I must put the interest of America first." Facing the media, which had raised him up, become his enemy, and helped to bring him down, the president resigned.”(PBS)


Possible topics of discussion-

Watch the film, All the President’s Men, and review select documents on Watergate. Discuss the following questions:

  • What role does the media play in the Presidency?
  • Is the role always appropriate, in your opinion?
  • Do you consider the media one of the checks and balances of our political system?
  • Is there ever a time when you think the press should suppress a story about the President or his family?
  • How did Nixon and other presidents control or attempt to control the press.
  • Should everything about a Presidential candidate’s life be “fair game” for the Press?
  • What role did the Watergate tapes play in Nixon’s downfall?
  • Do you think that all presidential conversations should be taped?

Resources & Materials


All The President’s Men

Biography: Richard Nixon: Man and President

Internet resources

Available worksheets



Film 1:  All the President's Men (1976)


  • Synopsis: 

Just before the 1972 Presidential election, Bob Woodward from the Washington Post uncovered what appeared to be a minor break-in at the Watergate Democratic Party National headquarters.  As he worked on the story, it became more and more apparent that there were powerful people behind the break-in. 


This groundbreaking journalism led to the instigation of impeachment proceedings against President Nixon, the resignation of a president, and the jailing of top presidential aides.


  • Genre(s) - Drama
  • Rating - PG
  • Family Rating - not available
  • Running Time  - 2 hrs. 18 min.
  • Primary Actors- Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander
  • Director - Alan J. Pakula                        
  • Music – David Shire    
  • Writing Credits – Berstein and Woodward
  • Producers - Walter Coblenz
  • Studio – Warner Bros. Home Video                

Film 2: Biography: Richard Nixon: Man and President


  • Synopsis: 

BIOGRAPHY® offers an in-depth look at Nixon’s Presidency from the time of his historic visits to China until his career came crashing down in the spectacle of Watergate.  Rare scrapbook photos and interviews with close friends and observers, offers a fresh look at this presidency.


  • Genre(s) - Documentary
  • Rating - N/R
  • Family Rating - Not available
  • Running Time - 1 hr. 40 min.


  • Primary Actors - Richard Nixon and his close friends and staff
  • Director - N/A             
  • Music - N/A                 
  • Screenplay- N/A
  • Producers – A & E      
  • Studio – A & E

Reading Connections


All the President's Men (S&S Classic...

Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy...

Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the...

Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of...

From Watergate to Monicagate: Ten...

The Watergate Crisis (Greenwood Press...

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