'Follow the Money' Quote From 'All The President's Men' Explained, With Context

By | May 5, 2020

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Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in 'All The President's Men.' Source: IMDB

The rule for uncovering political corruption is “Follow the money” -- but this became common thanks to the Watergate scandal movie All The President’s Men (1976). The movie line guides protagonists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman) in their quest to figure out the suspicious mess surrounding President Richrd Nixon. Even today, you'll hear the words spouted by talking heads on cable news -- but what do they really mean? 

Directed by Alan Pakula and written by the immortal William Goldman. the film was based on the book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. However, Goldman only adapted the first part of the book that covered the investigative process undertaken by Woodward and Bernstein. The movie was nominated for eight Oscars, winning four, and forever framing the events of Watergate, for better and for worse. 

'Follow The Money,' The Line In Context

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Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat. Source: IMDB

In the movie, the line is spoken by Deep Throat, a government official who wants to remain anonymous, to Woodward (Redford) during a secret meeting at a parking garage. Here's how the scene plays out:

Bob Woodward: The story is dry. All we've got are pieces. We can't seem to figure out what the puzzle is supposed to look like. John Mitchell resigns as the head of CREEP, and says that he wants to spend more time with his family. I mean, it sounds like bulls**t, we don't exactly believe that...

Deep Throat: No, heh, but it's touching. Forget the myths the media's created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.

Bob Woodward: Hunt's come in from the cold. Supposedly he's got a lawyer with $25,000 in a brown paper bag.

Deep Throat: Follow the money.

Bob Woodward: What do you mean? Where?

Deep Throat: Oh, I can't tell you that.

Bob Woodward: But you could tell me that.

Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just... follow the money.