Ben Bradlee was editor of the Washington Post when the newspaper did something phenomenal: It took down the Nixon administration in the Watergate scandal. I didn't know anything about Bradlee or newspapers or the Washington Post when I saw the 1976 film about the scandal—I only knew I wanted to work somewhere just like that.
I always knew I wanted to do something with words in my life, but until I saw All the President's Men—caught on cable in the middle of the day one high school summer—I'd only had the vaguest ideas of what that might look like. This provided a pretty awesome career path to aspire to. As two rookie journalists hoping to make a name for themselves, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman end up chasing a story through dark parking garages. And their boss, Bradlee (played by Jason Robards), cheered them on, even though he knew he was putting his own career on the line. Man, who knew that writing could be so exciting?
As an homage to Bradlee, who died yesterday, Slate posted this pivotal scene where Robards supposedly perfectly embodies Bradlee's straight-talking, go-with-your-gut demeanor (apparently he was even more witty in real life). My office certainly doesn't look anything close to that fluorescent-lit newsroom with its sea of paper-strewn primary-colored desks, and I certainly haven't had any anonymous sources like Deep Throat (maybe email ruined that). But watching this clip, I felt that same thrill that rippled through my brain as a teenager. Writing for a living is about taking a chance on a story and having someone really smart who's got your back. And then—and to be clear, this doesn't always happen—it's about how good it feels to get it right. [Amazon]
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