Follow the money

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"Follow the money" is a catchphrase popularized by the 1976 docudrama film All the President's Men, which suggests political corruption can be brought to light by examining money transfers between parties.


For the film, screenwriter William Goldman attributed the phrase to Deep Throat, the informant who took part in revealing the Watergate scandal. However, the phrase is mentioned neither in the non-fiction book that preceded the film, nor in any documentation of the scandal.[1] The book does contain the phrase "The key was the secret campaign cash, and it should all be traced," which Woodward says to Senator Sam Ervin.[2]


The phrase Follow the money was mentioned by Henry E. Peterson at the 1974 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings as Earl J. Silbert was nominated to U.S. Attorney.[3] A 1975 book by Clive Borrell and Brian Cashinella, Crime in Britain Today, also uses the phrase.

Since the 1970s, "follow the money" has been used several times in investigative journalism and political debate. One example is Follow the Money, a series of CBS reports.

Donald Trump[edit]

In September 2016, the Trump campaign used the phrase in criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.[4]

In February 2017, Carl Bernstein used the phrase to encourage reporters to discover President Trump's potential conflicts of interest.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Differences between All the President's Men Book vs Movie Page 1". Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  2. ^ Woodward, Bernstein, All the President's Men, Chapter 12, p. 248
  3. ^ Shapiro, Fred (2011-09-23). "Follow the Money". Freakonomics. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  4. ^ Schreckinger, Ben; Vogel, Kenneth P. (September 28, 2016). "Trump launches 'follow the money' attack". Politico. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  5. ^ Skoczek, Tim (February 2, 2017). "Carl Bernstein on covering Trump: Follow the money". CNN. Retrieved February 27, 2017.