The Unbalance of Power

Just a secretly-recorded tape reel’s roll away from the Russell Senate Office building where the iconic hearings were held, former Watergate prosecutors mingled with iconic Nixon Administration figures last Thursday (April 18).

The venue was the Newseum in Washington, D.C., which played host to a Discovery Channel and White House Correspondents Association hosted premiere screening of the new documentary, All The President’s Men: Revisited.Standing in for news junkies everywhere, I watched somewhat starstruck as former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, along with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (no IDs necessary, we hope), joined Robert Redford, who played Woodward in the mov¬ie, Discovery founder John Hendricks and Discovery CEO David Zaslav for a group photo.

Dustin Hoffman had been asked to the event but was out of the country, according to Discovery.

The two-hour documentary, narrated by Redford, was directed and produced by Peter Schnall (Partisan Pictures), executive produced by Redford, Bloomberg TV president Andrew Lack and Laura Michalchyshyn and was set to debut April 21 on Discovery Channel.

The documentary mixes archive footage with new interviews with key players - John Dean, Alexander Butterfield, Egil Krogh, Woodward, Bernstein, Ben Stein - and some current voices: Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, James Carville.

The picture painted of Nixon is a man consumed by hatred for enemies - real and perceived -who used the power of the presidency to exact revenge, then ob¬structed justice when the truth or, as Woodward has defined journalism, the “best obtainable version of the truth,” was exposed.

Redford said in a panel discussion after the screen¬ing that his connection with Nixon extended back to an athletic award he received when he was 13 from the then U.S. senator from California. “I got a bad vibe,” Redford said, one that stuck with him.

I queried Redford on why he did not do more TV. “That’s what this is,” he said, referring to the Revisited doc. Asked why not TV drama–not tht Watergate hearings weren’t dramatic–particularly given the quality of cable fare in the genre these days, he said he had “been there, done a lot of that,” noting his many TV credits on the front end of his career. “That was my early life -The Defenders, Route 66, Naked City, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock - but I don’t think a lot of people know about that.”

Now they do.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.