Last night instead of going to bed at my usual time, I got caught up in All the President's Men. It was airing on AMC as a part of what they were marketing as "DC Intrigue" night -- timed, I'm sure, to coincide with the opening of Scooter Libby's trial (and aimed at those of us geeky enough to make the connection). I have seen the movie before, but not until last night did I realize that this movie is my childhood. I don't mean in the sense of being a kid in the seventies, a decade defined by Watergate. I mean, this movie is my childhood.
The movie's newsroom is exactly like the newsroom where I visited my dad at work. The same clackety-clack typewriters, endlessly spewing wire machines, and heavy black rotary phones. The same bad seventies hair, big glasses, and wide ties. The same young hotshot reporters and seen-it-all editors, some of whom actually smoked (smoked!) at their desks. And Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee? Striding out of his glass-walled office, pulling out his red pen, ripping the hell out of Woodward and Bernstein's prose, and commanding them to "come back to me when you have some facts"? That's Dad! And that's real journalism, people!
I know the movies and tv don't always get it right. As Dad used to tell me when we watched Lou Grant, "That's not real, you know." I knew. Like All Star Wrestling, tv and movie journalism is fake. Dad didn't get to shout "Stop the presses!" and I'm sure he never got to actually stop them, which Lou Grant seemed to do like every other week.
But that movie newsroom, man? That newsroom was real.