In All the President's Men, as I understood it, Woodward and Bernstein had already established that "someone high up in the White House" was the fifth controller of the slush fund. They later concluded that "the fifth controller was 'Haldeman'".

When they talked to their FBI informant to get confirmation, which they got, Woodward notices that the FBI source specifically says John Haldeman, and acts like this is a big deal, or new information, or is in some way significant.

There's no indication in the film or in some brief wikipedia browsing that there were multiple Haldemans in the government, let alone in the White House, let alone "high-up in the White House" so why is this a big deal?

1 Answer 1


This issue is the reference to John Haldeman which is not how the complicit Haldeman was referred to...

As their editor said

                     --well shit, we oughtta be tense--
                     we're about to accuse Mr. Haldeman 
                     who only happens to be the second 
                     most important man in America of 
                     conducting a criminal conspiracy 
                     from inside the White House--
                     --it would be nice if we were right--

Harry Robbins "Bob" Haldeman (October 27, 1926 – November 12, 1993) was an American political aide and businessman, best known for his service as White House Chief of Staff to President Richard Nixon and his consequent involvement in the Watergate Affair.

Haldeman was one of many key figures in the Watergate scandal. The unexplained 18½-minute gap in Nixon's Oval Office recordings occurred during a discussion that included the President and Haldeman. Nixon requested the resignations of Haldeman and Ehrlichman in what has been described as a long and emotional meeting at Camp David. Haldeman was fired and the resignations were announced on April 30, 1973. In a phone conversation shortly after the resignations, Nixon told Haldeman that he loved him like his brother.[7] On the eve of Nixon's resignation, Haldeman asked for a full pardon along with a full pardon of Vietnam War draft dodgers. He argued that pardoning the dodgers would take some of the heat off him. Nixon refused.

On January 1, 1975, Haldeman was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to serve 2½ to 8 years, subsequently commuted to 1 to 4 years. In Lompoc Federal Prison he worked in the sewage treatment facility testing sewage. On December 20, 1978, after serving 18 months, Haldeman was released on parole.


The reporters can't take the reference to John Haldeman as evidence of against someone with a similar name.

  • Oh! So is the implication that the FBI informant was wrong? Or mis-spoke? Or that the FBI 'had the wrong guy'?
    – Brondahl
    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:57
  • Essentially, the informant mis-spoke...and they can't take a mis-statement as evidence
    – Paulie_D
    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:59
  • Sure, agreed - I just don't have enough of the context from Watergate too understand what's going on. It's a great film, but it doesn't help the viewer out much if all they know going in is "Watergate is America's greatest political scandal, and it involved Nixon being very naughty"
    – Brondahl
    Apr 25, 2018 at 7:02

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