Especially so for a made-up line.
“Follow the money” was spoken by Hal Hollbrook, who played Woodward’s stealthy “Deep Throat” source in All the President’s Men. (The real-life “Deep Throat” was revealed in 2005 to have been W. Mark Felt, formerly the second-ranking official at the FBI.)
The line is so pithy — and seems to offer such sage and telling advice — that it crossed long ago from the cinema to the vernacular, and has become embedded in Watergate lore.
The commentary discussed companies that pay no corporate federal taxes, declaring: “For too long the American public has been hornswoggled by this century’s ‘robber barons.'”
The commentary included this passage:
“No wonder corporations court politicians. As Deep Throat so wisely told reporter Bob Woodward, ‘Always follow the money.‘”
Always follow the money, eh?
Unraveling the scandal required much more than identifying and following a trail of illicit fundraising and money-laundering. Those were elements of Watergate, but they weren’t decisive in forcing President Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.
To roll up a scandal of such dimension, I write in Getting It Wrong, “required the collective if not always the coordinated forces of special prosecutors, federal judges, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court, as well as the Justice Department and the FBI.
“Even then,” I note, “Nixon likely would have served out his [second] term if not for the audiotape recordings he secretly made of most conversations in the Oval Office of the White House. Only when compelled by the Supreme Court did Nixon surrender those recordings, which captured him plotting the cover-up and authorizing payments of thousands of dollars in hush money.”
Those were the disclosures that brought about Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.
Recent and related:
- Inspirations to journalists: Woodward, Bernstein — and Gaga?
- Counter-punching that made-up line, ‘follow the money’
- WaPo ‘broke the Watergate scandal’? No way
- WaPo played pivotal role in Watergate? Think again
- ‘Follow the money,’ again and again
- A trope that knows few bounds: The hero-journalist myth
- He may be a crook, but he’s right about Vietnam, Watergate
- NYTimes practices ‘yellow journalism’? How so?
- ‘Cronkite Moment’ makes ‘Best of the Web’
- NYT-Bay of Pigs suppression myth: Check out new trailer
- ‘Persuasive and entertaining’: WSJ reviews ‘Getting It Wrong’