Bob Woodward, who’s best known as being part of the fearless team of investigative journalists who took down the Nixon administration, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Politico that he received threats from the White House. From Reuters:
Journalist Bob Woodward on Wednesday said a senior White House official told him he would “regret” taking issue in recent days with President Barack Obama’s version of how across-the-board budget cuts came to be.
Woodward, who challenged the White House account in an article on Sunday, said a “very senior” White House official sent him an email in which, “It was said very clearly, ‘You will regret doing this.'”
The Huffington Post argues that it’s the media, not the White House, who’s to blame for the fact that the media no longer covers hard-hitting stories.
But all the focus on Obama’s machinations overlooks two points. First, many presidents have tried to go around the White House press corps, from FDR’s fireside chats to Richard Nixon’s creation of the White House Office of Media Affairs, which increased focus on regional press. And second, the press corps does not need an invitation, or even access, to cover the president with the kind of bracing toughness that is called for.
In fact, it makes sense for the White House to try to go around the press corps. And the press will be more relevant to the extent it is substantively adversarial toward the executive branch (and of course to the other branches). Some observers believe an excessively deferential media is the real story, not Obama’s supposed manipulation skills.
As you may recall, because of the media’s reluctance to ask the tough questions, we invaded a country that never caused us any harm. Bob Woodward played no small part in the deception, as stated by his former colleague at the Washington Post, Lorraine Adams:
I worked with him in passing at the newsroom, actually I worked with him on a few stories so I knew him better than that. I think he practices access journalism, which is different from what I did at the Post. [I] would talk to the people who have no power and who are affected by the people in power, and that gives a much more useful picture of the way policy affects the human soul.
Woodward, who started as a reporter who did that, who knocked on doors and talked to people on the ground, became a celebrity. In becoming a celebrity, he invariably saw it as a much better deal for him, in terms of making money, to talk to other celebrities inside Washington: presidents, their chiefs of staff, vice presidents, their chiefs of staff. We have learned that Deep Throat was an FBI official, not an agent, an official. He was on, what we call, the 7th Floor.
I think Woodward’s capitulation to interviewing people in limousines, as opposed to people on the subway, is something I feel is partly responsible for the fact that we ended up in Iraq. Because so many reporters, Judith Miller is the most egregious of them, spoke to Scooter Libby and some other higher officials, and never spoke to intelligence people on the ground. They swallowed wholesale Colin Powell at the U.N., and [ultimately] their limousine reporting meant that 100,000 Iraqis lost their lives.
In fact, Woodward was nothing but complimentary about the George W. Bush administration’s ability to spin the media and he rightly blames himself for not seeing through the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ ruse.
Here’s the video:
So what happened to the once great journalist? Woodward was always the more conservative part of the team, Woodward and Bernstein. While he wasn’t exactly in the tank for the Bush administration, he certainly painted a more flattering picture of the younger Bush’s arrogance while not seeming to understand President Obama’s deliberateness.
Woodward also comes across as somewhat war hawkish, as evidenced by his reaction to the aircraft carrier.
But perhaps it boils down to something much simpler. Woodward is an old school journalist who is watching his relevancy pass. The Obama administration is the first to embrace new media. Woodward and most of his colleagues stopped asking crucial questions during the Bush administration and now they’re busy licking their own self-inflicted wounds. One doesn’t regain journalistic integrity by blaming their subject and crying about a phantom email. One regains journalistic integrity by being a journalist – not by having a dull axe to grind.
|Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson|