-By Warner Todd Huston
Now that it is OK for the Old Media to slam Bob Woodward, hit pieces on his work are coming out of the woodwork, if you will. One of the latest is from The New Yorker where Woodward’s oeuvre was termed, “revelatory, informative, incomplete, infuriating, and downright misleading.”
Only a few short years ago, attacks by fellow journalists on Woodward, the man that took down President Richard Nixon, would have been unthinkable. But after Woodward revealed that a highly placed White House operative warned him that he would “regret” writing negative stories on President Obama, that has all changed.
Now that it’s open season on the Washington Post reporter, John Cassidy wrote a long piece detailing many of Woodward’s shortcomings.
In the first half of his article, Cassidy set out to detail the “strengths and weaknesses of Bob Woodward” and went back as far as 1988 and worked forward.
Cassidy first pointed to Woodward’s eyebrow raising “deathbed confession” of CIA chief William Casey noting that some seriously doubt the story.
But Cassidy said that he didn’t consider Woodward an outright liar. “The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up. It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who coöperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning,” he wrote.
Cassidy replayed the criticism by Joan Didion who complained that Woodward’s books were so “passive” as to seemingly be written by those Woodward was interviewing as opposed to the reasoned work of the writer.
With that criticism in mind, Cassidy went on to say that Woodward’s book on Alan Greenspan “wasn’t much help at all” in trying to get a handle on why Greenspan became such a major figure in economic circles.
Cassidy then went on to detail some of the attacks on Woodward’s latest book, The Price of Politics, which chronicled Obama’s repeated failures during the 2011 debt ceiling and budget talks.
For the second half of the piece, Cassidy went into his version of regret-gate deciding Woodward was in the wrong, pronouncing the whole affair “regrettable.”
“Going forward, perhaps he should stick to reported articles and books, which presumably get edited and fact-checked, and leave the op-eds and interviews with Politico to the subjects of his stories,” Cassidy concluded.
These harsh criticisms of Woodward would have been practically unheard of in the Old Media until this week.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, BigHollywood.com, and BigJournalism.com, as well as RightWingNews.com, RightPundits.com, CanadaFreePress.com, StoptheACLU.com, AmericanDaily.com, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.
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