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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bob Woodward: White House pawn?

Today's revelation that Bob Woodward failed to share with his editors that he had classified information revealed to him by a senior administration official is very disturbing. For years, media critics have failed to scrutinize Woodward's activities and his connections to insiders that give him important information that ends up in his books and on the front pages of the Washington Post. Because of Woodward's fame he enjoys a autonomous status within the Post's newsroom: the message from the Post through the years is that the rules do not apply to Bob Woodward, ever. Woodward's implication today that Valerie Plamme's outing was essentially an insignificant event which did no harm to national security is offensive and should once in for all demonstrate Woodward's agenda in protecting the current administration.

After a career where Woodward was considered a crusading journalist who had incredible investigative and reporting skills, Woodward has settled into a role of a gossip mongerer and a chummy insider, with clear political motives. His reporting in multiple books about President Clinton, be it The Agenda from 1994, The Choice from 1996 or The Shadow from 2000 were somewhat shallow and showed that Woodward in fact was the one with an agenda to make the President look as bad as possible.

Since 2001, Woodward has written two books and numerous articles about the Bush Administration. These works have proven to be little more than White House propaganda: official spin packaged as groundbreaking insider access and reporting by its author. Woodward has in essence taken what the White House wants the public to know about its decision making regarding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and used it to sell books. Woodward is now little more than a pawn the administration uses to get its positive spin out to the public. Because Woodward has so much credibility among the Washington insiders and has no editorial limits from the Post who benefit from his reporting for his books because they can run the excerpts in advance as exclusives he is a perfect agent for the White House to get its message out.

The latest revelation about Woodward in no way surprises. What does shock and disappoints me is that his colleagues at the Post and in the Washington Press Corp are not showing even the slightest concern about Woodward's motives, and claiming he only made a mistake. Judith Miller and Matt Cooper weren't so lucky and given such deference by their colleagues, which is unfortunate. At least they reported what they learned, instead of sitting on it like Woodward for fear it would hurt his standing with the White House, and with the American public whom Woodward has fleeced over the last ten years with books which are short on insight and long on the authors personal political agenda. .    


Anonymous said...

The comments you make about one of the most reveered journalists of our time here are nothing short of dispicible. You shouldn't be permitted to comment on someone of Woodward's stature anymore on this rag of yours.

Tim L said...

Great post Kartik! I have agreed for years that Woodward has skated by on his Watergate reputation and in fact some of my friends have speculated on whether or not Woodward always tells the truth in his books. His method to recreate events and meetings makes for great reading, but it's tough to imagine why Woodward gets inside every room and no other author or writer can. Makes you wonder.

Joe said...

Looks like the Post has Howie Kurtz engaging in dmaage control for them. Some of your points albeit in a less direct way are made in this article.

Anonymous said...

Whoa........some pretty strong feelings here. Hope you're not blackballed now!

Jill said...

Woodward's recent book have been hack jobs and I loved your column. He needs to be held accountable for this and his pro-Bush spin books.

W = War said...

It seems as though Miller, Woodward and who knows how many others have been sweet talked by the Cheny/Bush welcoming commitee and have been carrying the water of this corrupt administration ever since.

Can someone tell me when "Who,What When,Where,Why and How" and having multiple sources went out of vouge?

Where were the editors? Journalism has failed us almost as badly as the administration.

Jeb in 2008 said...

Kartik, oh you are so full of it. Bob Woodward was responsible for the disgrace and destruction of a GOP administration and a sweep in the 1974 Elections by the Democrats. He also was very critical of Bob Dole in a book released during the 1996 campaign and now you say he is a hack of this administration. Woodward is a credible journalist whose failure to find anything damming about this administration should be enough of a case to the American public that all this talk of CIA leaks and a rush to war is nothing but left wing spin nad liberal banter while the prosecuter Fitzgerald is just another Democratic Chicago machine hack.

Anonymous said...


I have read a number of Woodsward's books including "Veil" and "The Choice."

I actually found "Veil" to be pretty informative, then again, I read it when I was still in college (1990). However, it didn't shed any new light on the Iran-Contra Affair and depicted former CIA chief William Casey as a hero.

Similarly, I also detected a pro-Republican bias in "The Agenda." Maybe this should not be surprising, as Woodwards character, (aka Robert Redford) stated he was a Republican in "All the President's Men."

I found The Choice to actually be a fun and easy read, then again, it was a mile wide and an inch deep.

"Woodward has settled into a role of a gossip mongerer and a chummy insider."

I couldn't have said it better.


Anonymous said...

Christopher Hitchens on Woodward in Salon

Jeff said...

I recall that scene from the movie when Woodward and Bernstein interviewed someone involved in Watergate. It is pretty telling. I haven't always agreed with Kartik, but I am very pleased who wrote this piece. It needs to be said. I am sure pretty soon the conservatives will get wind of this posting and try and spam this site. We liberals have to be ready for the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Woodward is really taking it on the chin today. Good column.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.