Not funny, not intelligent, not credible. John Cook:
Bob Woodward is not a reliable reporter. Readers of All the President’s Men, which admirably chronicles several crucial errors and misrepresentations that he and Carl Bernstein made in the course of their—otherwise excellent!—Watergate reporting, have a sense of this fact. His old boss, the legendary editor Ben Bradlee, never really trusted him, wondering repeatedly and on the record whether the story and mythology of Deep Throat—the linchpin of the Watergate story that Woodward and his partner Carl Bernstein sold to the American public—was in fact a giant fraud.
And anyone who has been paying attention to Woodward’s efforts to portray an apologetic, friendly, concerned email from a White House official as a Nixonian threat designed to silence him will come to the conclusion that, when it comes to assessing his character, we should trust those who know him best. Bradlee was on to something.
I remember Watergate. I watched the hearings on television. I saw the movie and read the book. It was pretty incredible stuff. Lots of people found it hard to believe. But it was all true.
Even that part about Deep Throat. For years people speculated about whether he really existed or if he was a complete fabrication or maybe some sort of composite of multiple sources. But he was a real person – his name was Mark Felt and he was the Associate Director of the FBI.
Cook kinda sorta forgets to mention that.
But Wait! There’s more!:
But the spell has broken. The Obama White House has, it appears, been as receptive to Woodward’s bargain as its predecessors were, but for some reason he’s gone off the grid and begun firing wildly and without provocation. Who knows why. The changes to our politics over the last five years have obviously been hard on him. It’s more difficult to tell stories about good men working out their honest differences when one half of the equation has foresworn compromise and committed itself to total political warfare. The comfortable subroutines of his brain have gone haywire, and he’s kicking out garbage.
But the simplest explanation for this episode is that he wants people to buy his book about how the president is an effete asshole who’s in over his head. How would one go about marketing a book like that, I wonder? During the entirety of the Bush Administration, Woodward made 11 appearances on Fox News Channel. Last year, he showed up 10 times. This year, he’s been on three times so far. Guess where he’s going to be tonight.
First of all let me say that I do not have a really high opinion of Bob Woodward. I think he’s a two-bit hack who owes his career to Mark Felt. But compared to the other notable members of the journalism profession he is a distinguished elder – which is kinda like being the captain of the short bus. In the public esteem journalists rate below lawyers – somewhere between used car salesman and politicians.
On the other hand John Cook is the editor of Gawker, the former home of such luminaries as Alex Pareene and Jim Newell:
Gawker is a blog based in New York City that bills itself as “the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip” and focuses on celebrities and the media industry.
In other words, Gawker is the Russell Brand of journalism.
Here are the facts:
1. The idea for the sequester originated in the White House. Barack Obama signed it into law. Then Obama tried to blame the sequester on the GOP. Bob Woodward reported that information accurately.
2. White House economic adviser Gene Sperling took umbrage at Woodward and called him to express his displeasure. Afterwards Sperling wrote an email to Woodward where he apologized for “raising my voice”. Then he said this:
But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.
3. Woodward never characterized what Sperling said as a threat. He said:
It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this… It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters ‘You will regret’ doing something that you believe in.’ I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communications strategy—let’s hope it’s not a strategy, but as a tactic—he’d say look, we don’t go around saying to reporters, you will regret this.
What is never explained is why Sperling took such strenuous objection to Woodward’s original statement. Also left out of Cook’s version is the number of reporters who have confirmed that the White House threatened them too.
Here is a story detailing some of the incidents involving White House retaliation against reporters that “break the rules.”