Sunday, June 18, 2017

‘All the President’s Men Revisited’: Watergate again, but not just a nostalgia trip - The Washington Post

‘All the President’s Men Revisited’: Watergate again, but not just a nostalgia trip - The Washington Post:

‘All the President’s Men Revisited’: Watergate again, but not just a nostalgia trip





Around here, the offer of watching a two-hour documentary about how Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein chased the Watergate story is about as appealing as taking the car into the shop to get the tires rotated. I’m looking at the calendar and not seeing what we like to call the peg. (The 40th anniversary of the middle of the Watergate saga? The 37th anniversary of the movie premiere of “All the President’s Men?” The 563rd anniversary of the printing press?)
Yet here I sit, thoroughly absorbed by executive producer/narrator Robert Redford’s “All the President’s Men Revisited,” a fresh and even stirring reminiscence airing this Sunday on Discovery.
Redford and his crew, including director Peter Schnall, stylishly manage what countless think tank and j-school panel discussions struggle to do — cut through the recollections of the major players (Woodward, Bernstein, their boss Ben Bradlee, Nixon White House counsel John Dean, etc.) and utilize their well-trod anecdotes and war stories in a way that seems new. 
Because let’s face it: Watergate is fading before our eyes. For measuring distance, we in 2013 are now farther away from the events portrayed in “All the President’s Men” than the film “Bonnie and Clyde” was from the real Bonnie and Clyde. Richard Nixon himself is nearly 20 years gone. Mark Felt, the former FBI official who outed himself as Deep Throat in 2005, died four-plus years ago. And while The Post legends and ex-White House staffers (the film also talks to Hugh W. Sloan, Bud Krogh and Alexander Butterfield) come across as a relatively hale bunch in this film, it is in fact the younger interview subjects who do the most to revivify the entire saga as both a political and cultural watershed.
Thus Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” shares a bit of the ubiquitous and jowly impression of Richard Nixon he used to do as a boy. (Any American who was a child during the Watergate years remembers how you could get the adults in the room to laugh and pay attention to you with a well-timed slouch and “I am not a crook.” You didn’t even really have to know what it meant.) “Ten years old [and] I had my Nixon down,” Stewart says in the film. “Now I have a much more complex view of the man and his presidency. The sad truth is, I think Nixon would by today’s standards be considered maybe a conservative Democrat, [and] maybe at some levels a radical leftist.”
And MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who was an infant during the Watergate hearings, is always good at giving history’s constitutional crises a relevant place in today’s conversation: “Richard Nixon is now the guy who, when you see photos of him even at his prime, you cannot believe he was ever president of the United States.”
 It’s smart of Redford and company to acknowledge all this. But their “All the President’s Men Revisited” is no Watergate for Dummies, either; it is as concerned with the historical ‘All the President’s Men Revisited’: Watergate again, but not just a nostalgia trip - The Washington Post:

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