Sweat Not Melodrama: Reading the Structure of Feeling in All the President’s Men

Document Type




Format of Original

19 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/1464884903004001444


Thirty years after the initial break-in, Watergate holds a mythic status within the history of American journalism. Whether individuals consider Watergate the beginning of modern investigative journalism or maintain that The Washington Post’s reportage helped destroy the legitimacy of the American political process, the press’s role in this political scandal continues to inspire journalists and provide justification for First Amendment protection of the press. Quite apart from the actual experience of Watergate, this essay suggests that the most famous chronicle of this political scandal, All the President’s Men, codifies an ideology of journalism which has framed an understanding of the role of the press in the United States and Western Europe since the 1970s. All the President’s Men can be read as an ur-text - a seminal text that illustrates a specific structure of feeling regarding the construction of contemporary journalistic practices.


Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, Vol. 4, No. 1 (February 2003): 113-131. DOI.

Bonnie Brennen was affiliated with the University of Missouri at Columbia at the time of publication.