Reporters are a clever bunch. They not only uncover the news, but they also influence the news by how they choose to report on it. They must be able to sniff out sources, follow leads, and get good quotes. But there's a fine line between a journalist who does the dirty work, and one who's just dirty.
With All the President's Men, all the cunning and cleverness comes from the reporters. Virtually none of it comes from the government, which is scrambling around behind the scenes to cover up its boneheaded mistakes. The Nixon administration is so stupid they seem clever, and the reporters have to be clever enough to think like idiots in order to expose them.
Questions About Cunning and Cleverness
What are some of the tricks Woodward and Bernstein must pull off in order to interview people or follow leads?
What are some of the dumbest mistakes made by the government during the cover-up? Were Woodward and Bernstein super clever, or was the government just really bad at covering up their crimes?
Chew on This
Cunning and cleverness alone won't make a good news story. Bernstein likes to follow his gut feelings, but Bradlee, the editor, wants them backed up by good, hard sources.
The Nixon administration uses its authority to tell people what to do, but by engaging in illegal activity, they undermine their own authority.