Bob Woodward demythologized (a little)

This piece is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not far enough.

Why not mention Woodward’s background in Navy intelligence, and his pre-reportorial gig as the Joint Chiefs’ briefing officer, and liaison to the Nixon White House? Prior to his arrival at the Post—where he got hired with very little journalistic background—Woodward spent many hours down in the White House basement, briefing Al Haig for his masters in the Pentagon.

At the time, when “Woodstein” were rising to celebrity, we all heard/read that Woodward joined the Post more or less fresh out of college, where he’d been “a liberal” and “against the war.”

That was a great cover story at the time. Isn’t it past time that we get over it, and ask who this guy really was, and is?


The Myth of Bob Woodward: Why Is This Man an American Icon?
By Max Hollalnd
Mar 12, 2013

For the past week Washington has found itself debating Bob Woodward. The occasion: his very public argument with White House senior official Gene Sperling, in which Woodward left the impression that Sperling had somehow tried to intimidate him—only to see this accusation undermined by the release of an email exchange in which the pair sounded rather conciliatory.

Bob Woodward & The False God of Journalists

Almost all the commentary about this flap fits neatly under the heading, “What the Hell Happened to Bob Woodward?” But posing that question, as New York magazine did last week, implies a transformation that never occurred. Woodward is the same now as he ever was. His misrepresentation of his interaction with Sperling is only the latest in a long string of questionable journalistic episodes.

To understand how this started, one has to begin near the beginning: Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book about their Watergate exploits, All the President’s Men. The authors enjoyed titanic-sized credibility when the book appeared in the spring of 1974; not too many reporters could point to having received a public apology attesting to the veracity of their work from a press secretary to the president of the United States. (“I would apologize to the Post, and I would apologize to Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein,” Ron Ziegler had said on May 1, 1973, retracting his earlier criticism of the newspaper’s articles on Watergate.) The natural assumption was that Woodstein’s book would meet that same high standard. Why would their nonfiction for The Washington Post differ from nonfiction written for Simon and Schuster?

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