The Woodward Fracas
Posted on March 1, 2013
Bob Woodward doesn’t think much of the Obama White House. You can tell that he doesn’t believe that the President is much of a President. And now the White House is making it pretty clear that it doesn’t think much of Bob Woodward.
This has all come to light in recent days in a bizarre he-said he-said tussle between the veteran Post reporter and Gene Sperling, Obama’s diminutive economic whiz. Politico did a story that said that Sperling threatened Woodward during the course of the argument. The White House pushed back hard and then released the entire email that seemed, in isolation, to be cordial enough.
What it didn’t release was the transcript of the thirty minute screaming match that apparently precipitated the email exchange.
Does this matter much, in the scheme of things?
Not really, but it does offer insight into the changing world of journalism in Washington DC.
The Washington Post is going downhill, fast.
It’s sky-high stock price is tumbling, its circulation is dwindling, its profits have long disappeared. About the only reason people buy the Post these days is to read Bob Woodward.
He is kind of a big deal to the Post. He has always been kind of a big deal to the Post. His investigation of Richard Nixon put the Washington Post on the map, and since that time, the newspaper has basically skated on the reputation first established by the downfall of Nixon, precipitated by the Woodward and Bernstein investigation.
(On a side note, I found it fascinating that Carl Bernstein is now one of MSNBC’s top commentators on the selection of the new Pope. I didn’t realize he was such a big expert on the Catholic Church).
The fact that the biggest figure at the Washington Post is no fan of Barack Obama is a real shock to the system. The media elite should have been forced to file campaign disclosures they were such in the tank for Team Obama.
Politico wrote a story last month where is detailed how the White House had changed the rules of the journalism game by effectively manipulating, intimidating, massaging, and going around the Washington media corps. That may have been true, but the media has been an active accomplice in this game. They have loved this President, because he shares their values on things like spending (more please), taxes (higher on everybody that makes more than the average journalist), abortion (freely available), gay stuff (marriage, military, etc). Obama, like the media, is a left-wing ideologue wrapped up in a patina of pragmatism. He talks a good game when it comes to governing, but if things don’t go his way, he will take his ball and go on the campaign trail.
A few journalists have the courage to counter this media mindset. Ron Fournier is one of them. Ron is willing to call out the President for not governing. Bob Woodward is another one.
And that doesn’t sit well with the President and his team. When guys like Fournier and Woodward have the balls to stand up for themselves, that could set a bad precedent.
That’s why David Plouffe compared Woodward to an aging former superstar who can barely swing the bat, let alone catch up to a fastball.
But Woodward will get the last laugh. A journalist is not like baseball player, although many journalists are huge baseball fans. A journalist is more like an umpire.
Woodward has been no fan of Republicans in the past (although, on another side-note, I think he kind of likes John Boehner, chiefly because Boehner and his team have been open, accessible and completely honest with him), which gives him a reputation of fairness that any umpire would envy.
He has been calling a lot of strikes lately against Team Obama. The President and his men would rather yell at the umpire than actually swing the bat.