I have to say, the state of the nation’s media is a hot mess. And you know it’s a hot mess when one of its most respected members turns out to be one of the biggest messes of them all.
Bob Woodward was one of the most important, central figures who brought to light the corruption surrounding the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration. They made a movie about his book with Carl Bernstein, All the President’s Men, and he was played by none other than the dashing Robert Redford on screen, but over the last couple of days, Woodword’s performed what most would term as a monumental face-plant.
On Wednesday, he took to the airwaves of CNN and claimed that he’d been “threatened” (so to speak) by the White House for reporting on the sequester:
“It was said very clearly: ‘you will regret doing this,’” Woodward said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.” “I’m not going to say [who], a very senior person. It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters you’re going to regret doing something 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 just a tactic he’s employing, he’d say, ‘look, we don’t go around trying to say to reporters if you in an honest way present something that we don’t like, you’re going to regret this,’” Woodward continued. “It’s Mickey Mouse.
What exactly did he report that could be so damning?
So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.
Hmmm…shill much these days?
But after his claims of, “you’re going to regret this,” which sounds like a menacing, I’ll-take-you-out-after-dark line from The Sopranos, obviously, the press took note. For an administration to attempt to put the kibosh on any media figure (Wikileaks? Anyone?) raises the hackles of both the press and the public, even in an age where our press corp is almost wholly owned and operated by the corporatocracy.
Well, as it turns out, “threat” is a strong, if not an incorrect word. And it turns out that Woodward’s discomfort was simply a grand exercise in media whoredom. Fellow GOP water-carriers, Politico, obtained copies of the actual email exchange [sic on the spelling/grammatical errors, emphasis added]:
From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013
I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.
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.
I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.
My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.
From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013
You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today.
Still, what does one do when you’ve been ferreted out by your professional colleagues and peers as a hack among hacks? You go squealing to Sean Hannity and Fox News, who recently had their asses handed to them courtesy of one Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), of course! Did you even have to ask?! If any organization can gin up some phony outrage on your behalf, it’s Fox News, because they are the All-Spin Zone and a fact-free playpen for the intelligence-challenged:
“It was a half-hour where he [Gene Sperling] was shouting at me. Now, I’ve known him for twenty years, and I emailed back and I don’t worry about shouts, but he was really worked up and then he sent me that email apologizing and, you know, saying I’m gonna regret taking this stand. Now, what we’re talking about here is not a fact; he’s not arguing with the fact, because beforehand he said we’re just not gonna see eye-to-eye on this; it’s an interpretation. Obviously he didn’t like being challenged on this at all, but people have said, ‘Well, this was a threat,’ or I was saying it was a threat…I haven’t used that language…”
You haven’t used that language, eh? Technically, that is correct; however, in the world of political and semantic obfuscation, your inference suggests a completely different story, which, I’m sure, was your aim to begin with (books to sell! Hell-ooooo!). It’s very similar to an Obama birther/Muslim conspiracy theorist saying, “Well, he says he was born in the United States, so I guess I have to take him at his word,” or, “I’m not saying he’s a Muslim, I’m simply saying that people have valid questions that need to be answered.”
It’s that tiny seed of doubt that must be implanted within the nation’s psyche, even when the glaring facts are staring us in the face.
Woodward should be ashamed of himself, because he, above all others, should know better. But I guess his face-plant shows us all that no one, not even a vaunted and revered journalist in his time, is above shilling for their money maker.
I’m not saying Woodward’s become pathetically and willfully irrelevant, I’m simply saying he’s full of shit.