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Jeff Koopersmith

Bob Woodward, Revealed at Last!
Which book tells the truth? Bush at War? Plan of Attack? State of Denial? Or none of the above?
By Jeff Koopersmith

Oct. 4, 2006 – Geneva (americanpolitics.com) – Perhaps Bob Woodward had realized that his first two books, purportedly researched through White House contacts before, during and after the Iraq invasion, were too thinly disguised as truth.

I have previously written about Bob Woodward, a man who seems to be intelligent, and is certainly well-placed in the Washington establishment.  He is likable – but is he a trustworthy source protecting the American people as journalists should?  Or is he simply self-serving and arrogant?

To be frank, I read "Bush at War," the first book about Iraq and the present administration, and decided that the conclusions, quotes and other paraphernalia in the book were largely conjecture and not based on any special knowledge. In fact, there were so many hard-to-believe fantasies in this first book that one wondered what planet Mr. Woodward was on when he wrote what seemed to be an elevated look at George W. Bush and those who surround him. Fairness, however, leaves me to allow Woodward all the kudos and money he believes he earned through his careful (or not-so-careful) research. This is, after all, the American Way.

Woodward, like many at The Washington Post, The New York Times and other leading newspapers, used their influence and journalistic talent to support the Bush Administration in their quest to go to war with Iraq and to go to war with "terrorism." After all, war sells newspapers – and more newspapers sold translates into higher advertising rates.

Make no mistake: newspaper publishing is very big business – perhaps comparatively ailing these past few years – but still profitable to those who earn their keep informing the American public.  Informing us, however, also means writing truth, not conjecture, and an obligation to neither follow the blowing winds nor march in line.

I can't put my finger on exactly why, but despite his affable demeanor I've never trusted Bob Woodward.  I always thought he had literally shoved Carl Bernstein to the side to take center stage during the well-deserved lynching of Richard Nixon.  However, I also know that it take neither a genius nor a great investigative reporter to "uncover" a crime when he has "Deep Throat" (who turned out, if everyone is to be believed, to be Mark Felt, the number two and three man at the FBI during the denouement of Nixon's presidency) feeding him, line by line, the facts (or not) of Nixon's crimes.  Woodward and Bernstein were, to be fair, sometimes wrong in their coverage of Nixon – but their uncanny ability to unravel the Nixon White House was due to the "oracle" Felt, not to their competence.  Whichever is the case, one could see early on that Woodward, like some Nobel Prize winners I could name, was quick to sideline his partner and friend and take the spotlight alone.

Now Woodward has penned a third book on the White House, which appears to be an almost 180-degree reversal of attitude toward his "insiders" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and, perhaps, a quick and desperately required self-correction for his prior two volumes – not to mention his editorial errors.

What does this say about his aforementioned whitewash of the shenanigans going on in the inner offices of War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, War Vice President Richard Cheney, Neoconservative Pentagon Master Operative Paul Wolfwitz, and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice?

It says to me that Bob Woodward either knowingly lied to us in the first two books – perhaps out of nationalist pride or fear of the Administration – or is lying to us now. Or was he merely stretching, ironing, sorting, and putting away the shirts of truth he didn't like or that did not fit him?

I can't answer these questions.

All I can write with assuredness is that I have not trusted Woodward of the Washington Post – along with Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn – for decades.  One need only look at the WaPo's incompetent coverage of Prescott Bush and his dealings with the Union Banking Corporation, The Bank of Credit and Commerce and its wholesale non-recourse loans to the powerful, and especially their humiliating campaign of cheap-shot attacks and one-sided coverage of both Bill and Hillary Clinton to understand why I believe this. And these are but a few examples of irresponsible and almost criminal disregard for legitimacy that I have seen in WaPo year after year.

Here's the fundamental truth about this "esteemed newspaper": before the Watergate scandal, WaPo was a second-rate rag, a poorly put-together, amateurishly edited newspaper that finally seized national attention through its reporting on the ills of a former President and all of his men.

The sorry, sordid fact is that the Washington Post has never lived up to its obligation to report the truth in many areas – and one of the fundamental reasons for this abrogation of journalistic responsibility is because their owners, senior editorial staff members, and reporters are joined at the hip socially and in business dealings with the very politicians and high-level bureaucrats they must cover.

Yes, "cover."

 

JEFF KOOPERSMITH is a political consultant, opinion research authority, policy analyst, and self-described "renegade lobbyist."

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