Study Guide

All the President's Men Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman)

Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman)

Good Morning, Bradlee!

Woodward and Bernstein are like that other set of crime fighters from the 1970's: Charlie's Angels. Working for the editor of the Washington Post, Ben Bradlee, Woodward and Bernstein are Bradlee's Angels (and Bernstein even has the feathered Farrah hair).

Just as the Angels had their own personalities, so do Woodward and Bernstein. Bernstein is a more veteran reporter than Woodward is, but he's still eager for success and fame…and fame. A line early on clues us in on Bernstein's style.

ROSENFELD: Bernstein, why don't you finish one story before trying to get on another?

He's hardworking, but he also tends to get on people's nerves, and initially grinds Woodward's gears by correcting his story.

BERNSTEIN: If you can't talk in specifics, you shouldn't say anything.

Unlike that person in your writing class too sensitive to take criticism, Woodward knows good advice when he hears it, and he begrudgingly admits that Bernstein is the better writer. With Woodward's investigative skills, they make a good team. They're an absolutely dynamic duo.

Good Cop, Bad Cop

We don't mean to imply that Bernstein's a bad investigator. He is good at that, too. But Bernstein has no problem crossing lines. He flirts with sources to get information. He tricks a secretary to get into the Miami ADA's office and retrieve some files. And he pressures an FBI agent to get insider information.

In one memorable scene, Woodward and Bernstein interview a fellow reporter who's had a sexual relationship with someone close to the Watergate scandal. Instead of pushing her, Woodward stops her.

WOODWARD: We don't want you to do anything that would embarrass you…or that you don't feel right about.

But Bernstein has no qualms about pushing, and he gets irritated with Woodward for going easy on her:

BERNSTEIN: Don't let her just get off. I think she was going to say something. […] She was going to give us what we want.

Based on quotes like this (and Bernstein's general attitude toward women), it should come as no surprise that he was a serial womanizer. And when your second wife is screenwriter Nora Ephron, the whole world ends up finding out about it. Ephron wrote about his womanizing ways in a memoir of her own. (Source)

Yes, Bernstein: women can write too.

Boiling Point

But Bernstein's a passionate guy, even in ways that have nothing to do with impressing the ladeez. He has a hotter temper than Woodward does, and tends to get angry, even if he doesn't direct his anger toward other people. Instead, he prefers to let off steam to Woodward, like after Bradlee criticizes the duo for not having enough sources to print.

BERNSTEIN: Asshole. Bradlee's just sticking up for the Kennedys.

(Um, don't get too wrapped up in these conspiracy theories, Carl. You already have your hands full with Deep Throat's secret identity.)

But Woodward agrees with Bradlee. They don't have enough sources. His cooler temper balances out Bernstein's:

WOODWARD: Do you think b****ing about it is going to get the story where we want it?

Everyone needs a friend willing to tell them to cool their jets. Woodward and Bernstein are like yin and yang. Peanut butter and jelly. Sonic and Knuckles. They complete each other. At least in the movie—in real-life, they weren't so buddy-buddy. (Source)

We know: that's like finding out that Harry and Ron actually hate each other, but the truth is hard to take sometimes. And Bernstein and Woodward would want to truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to be told.