Monday, September 13, 2004

Woodward tips his hand:

Bob Woodward was one of the journalists on Meet the Press this weekend. At one point he said: (emp add)
MR. WOODWARD: One of the common themes you find in talking to people in the White House and in the government here at all levels is, if you want to understand Bush, look at this decision. It defines him, and he knows that. What interests me, from the point of view of our business, the news media, is we have not found a way--we know how Bush operated. I mean, to his credit, he was willing to sit for three and a half hours and answer questions about how and why he made these decisions. We have not found a way to go to the political opponent, Senator Kerry, and say, "How would you deal with these things?" Not with sound bites, but in a long, detailed excavation of how John Kerry would be commander in chief. That's the missing piece in this political campaign.
The "three and a half hours" Woodward is referring to is the Cheney-accompanied, secret, no-transcript, long-resisted, initially-only-agreeing-to-meet-with-the-two-chairmen, accompanied by two White House lawyers, and not-under-oath interview. Which Bush finally sat down for, "to his credit".


Um, I'm no Woodward (or Bush) defender, but it's pretty clear from the context that he's talking about when Bush sat down with him, not the commission. Of course, Woodward doesn't say if he's asked Kerry for a similar interview. Maybe if he wrote a gushing propaganda book first he'd get one.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2004 8:31 AM  

I had the same impression as Anonymous. Can you clarify so that pointed comments can be made?

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 9/13/2004 8:55 AM  

interesting point - i got the very clear impression he was talking about testifying to the 911 commission, but i could have been wrong.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2004 8:59 AM  

Well, we knew already where Woodward stood, didn't we - the Watergate reporter has become the Bush apologizer - and a stellar member of the DC insider club - and a mediawhore to boot.
To write his book and get access to Bush, Woodward had to sell his soul. While his Watergate partner Carl Bernstein has retained his honor and integrity.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/13/2004 9:34 AM  

I was at the bookstore at Coolidge Corner earlier this afternoon and browsed Woodward's "Bush on War". In the preface, he states that he spent more than 3 1/2 hours with Bush on December 10 and 11, 2003. So I assume this was his intended reference on Meet the Press.

The interview dates were well after the major events reported. I assume that the interviews were arranged well in advance so that Bush and his minions could be prepared for this and other interviews. I can't believe it was off the cuff on Bush's part. Perhaps the interviews were even preceded by Woodward's furnishing in advance an outline of the areas he intended to cover. Woodward was not a witness to George Tenet's famous "slam dunk" comment. Rather, this was what Bush reported to Woodward. Others in attendance might have confirmed this. But I wonder if Tenet has ever confirmed the accuracy of this statement attributed to him. The fact that Bush and his minions agreed to the interviews suggests to me that they looked upon this as an opportunity to put Bush's best face forward. Frankly, I don't think Bush and his minions came out smelling like roses. Woodward is of course looking ahead to a third book and has to be careful what he says in order to get Bush's cooperation again. The comment above re: Bernstein is pertinent. I wonder how Ben Bradlee would have reacted if Woodward had been required to pass his observations through him as in the Watergate reporting days at the Washington Post. Woodward's role was not that a pure journalist; at best, this was celebrity journalism, which is perhaps an oxymoron.

By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 9/13/2004 1:02 PM  

I thought Woodward was referring to the 911 Commission. From the (second) link in my post:

President George W. Bush said on Thursday he and Vice President Dick Cheney had answered every question from the panel investigating the September 11 attacks in an historic session of more than three hours.

If Bush spent 3+ hours with Woodward, that's an interesting coincidence. My understanding from the way Woodward stated it, "[Bush did] answer questions about how and why he made these decisions", made it sound like an official inquiry, not a session with a reporter or author.

BTW, when I make these posts I do check basic facts. In this case, I Googled for "911 three hours" and got a whole lot of matches, so I thought that was the Woodward reference. Of course, nothing is certain in this world. Woodward could have been referring to his own interview. Or to a Q&A session Bush had on the campaign trail with reporters. Etc.

By Blogger Quiddity, at 9/14/2004 3:43 AM  

Bobby Wood makes me sadder than anyone in the whole media, because he was built up as this Robert Redford hero of Watergate. Apparently that was a fluke, and he has either lost it or has become a complete tool.

#1 - you can't compare Kerry speculating on what he would do with a president belatedly giving some bullshit explanation for massive screwups

#2 - given his toolness, why would Kerry agree to an exclusive with Bobby?

#3 - how hard is the media digging for Kerry's detailed plan? THERE IS A FRIGGIN' BOOK IN EVERY BOOKSTORE IN THE COUNTRY by Kerry and Edwards. Some of it is speech excerpts, but it has their plan in it, and I promise it represents way more than 3.5 hours of material. If they can't read, I'm sure there are 3 or 4 dozen spokespeople for the campaign who could personally read the highlights to them.

#4 - OWW! I hit my forehead because of the stupidness of it all. Can we just fire all of the media and replace them with bloggers who have their facts straight?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/14/2004 6:25 AM  

This is the original Anonymous (actually Ginger Yellow).

You might be right, of course, but the context of that quote points very much in the other direction: "What interests me, from the point of view of our business, the news media, is we have not found a way--we know how Bush operated. I mean, to his credit, he was willing to sit for three and a half hours and answer questions about how and why he made these decisions. We have not found a way to go to the political opponent, Senator Kerry, and say, "How would you deal with these things?""

In what way was the 9/11 commission hearing letting the news media know how Bush operated? It was private. It wasn't even under oath. All we know about it is what the 9/11 commission told us. On the other hand, the interviews with Bush for the second book fit the description perfectly - it's called Plan of Attack for God's sake. The whole point of it was to show how Bush came up with his master plan. I really think this is Woodward being his usual hack self - blaming Kerry for not sitting down with the press for 3 1/2 hours, when in fact the media have been constantly criticising Kerry for speaking too much at length and not in soundbites. You can't blame Kerry - if the media can't even get their head round something as simple as voting against one version of a bill and in favour of another, then how the hell would they cope with three hours worth of nuance?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/16/2004 7:35 PM  

They were also talking about the atrocious war and skippy asked his guests why Kerry couldn't pull away from Bush with a bad economy and a bad war, and their answer was that Kerry hadn't offered enough of an alternative to Bush. I thought, yeah, that and the fact that the press has given Bush a pass on everything and published every unsubstantiated rumor that taints Kerry. Pathetic.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/17/2004 5:34 PM  

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