[Marxism] Stenographer for the White House

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 17 07:54:41 MST 2005


Woodward Apologizes to Post For Silence on Role in Leak Case

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 17, 2005; 1:45 AM

Bob Woodward apologized to The Washington Post yesterday for failing to 
reveal for more than two years that a senior Bush administration official 
had told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame, even as an investigation of 
who disclosed her identity mushroomed into a national scandal.

Woodward, an assistant managing editor and best-selling author, said he 
told Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. that he held back the information 
because he was worried about being subpoenaed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the 
special counsel leading the investigation.

"I apologized because I should have told him about this much sooner," 
Woodward, who testified in the CIA leak investigation Monday, said in an 
interview. "I explained in detail that I was trying to protect my sources. 
That's job number one in a case like this. . . .

"I hunkered down. I'm in the habit of keeping secrets. I didn't want 
anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."

Downie, who was informed by Woodward late last month, said his most famous 
employee had "made a mistake." Despite Woodward's concerns about his 
confidential sources, Downie said, "he still should have come forward, 
which he now admits. We should have had that conversation. . . . I'm 
concerned that people will get a mis-impression about Bob's value to the 
newspaper and our readers because of this one instance in which he should 
have told us sooner."

The belated revelation that Woodward has been sitting on information about 
the Plame controversy reignited questions about his unique relationship 
with The Post while he writes books with unparalleled access to high-level 
officials, and about why Woodward denigrated the Fitzgerald probe in 
television and radio interviews while not divulging his own involvement in 
the matter.

"It just looks really bad," said Eric Boehlert, a Rolling Stone 
contributing editor and author of a forthcoming book on the administration 
and the press. "It looks like what people have been saying about Bob 
Woodward for the past five years, that he's become a stenographer for the 
Bush White House."

(clip)

===

CounterPunch
December 5, 2002
Woodward's Bush

by PIERRE TRISTAM

Bob Woodward is a celebrity reporter perceived as the ultimate insider, but 
for the wrong reasons. He does not reveal anything. He is not analytical or 
critical, a skeptic of any sort or a questioner of any depth, and context 
is a concept as foreign to him as foreign policy. He only conveys an image 
the "principals" on the inside, as Woodward loves to call them, want to reveal.

Whether his book is about "The Commanders" of the first Gulf War, "The 
Secret Wars of the CIA," "The Agenda" of the Clinton White House or "The 
Choice" in the 1996 presidential election, Woodward's loyal method explains 
why he has ready access to all those secret memos, legal pads, National 
Security Council minutes and CIA briefing papers that make up the bulk of 
his bulky books, and why most principals in the end choose to speak with 
him as opposed to an actual reporter. He is the print equivalent of a White 
House photographer, transcribing official moods and postures usually in a 
light most favorable to those who do speak with him, and most unfavorable 
to those who don't. The books zoom up the bestseller charts for the same 
reason voyeuristic books about celebrities' tics and tiffs do: Inquiring 
minds want to know, and a Woodward book is as close as they'll get to a 
reality show from the White House situation room.

"Bush at War," Woodward's latest, is a competent, plodding chronicle of the 
Bush cabinet's 100 days from Sept. 11 to the fall of the Taliban in 
Afghanistan. A few scoops about the president's sleeping problems or the 
secretary of defense's catfights with the secretary of state are sprinkled 
along the way to keep the story moving, like sex scenes in a Danielle Steel 
novel, but the book is remarkably devoid of anything new or surprising. No 
average consumer of 22 minutes of daily news would be surprised to know 
that the president is impulsive, intolerant of doubt or second-guessing, 
that the secretary of defense is tyrannical, that the vice president can't 
wait for another war, that the secretary of state's love of coalitions 
makes him the odd man out in an administration of shoot-first 
unilateralists, or that the CIA buys off enemies with trunks of taxpayer 
cash. (It is surprising that dozens of Taliban chiefs' defections can be 
bought off at $50,000 per while lesser foot soldiers have ended up in 
shackles at Guantanamo Bay.)

If that's all it was, "Bush at War" wouldn't warrant more than the usual 
reviews and chat-show buzz every Woodward book generates. But even by 
Woodward's standards, this is much less a journalist's book than a White 
House manifesto, a managed reconstruction of recent events not for the sake 
of telling the story of those events, but as a projection of events to 
come. What B-52s do to soften up enemy ground ahead of a military invasion, 
"Bush At War" is doing to soften up Bush's coming war on Iraq and possibly 
more. Because "Bush at War" is above all a Portrait of the President As a 
Grown-Up, but a grown-up who seems to have no qualms about remaking the 
world in line with his messianic visions. "I'm here for a reason, and this 
is going to be how we're going to be judged," Bush said shortly after Sept. 
11, explaining why the attacks would prove to be such a huge "opportunity." 
"There's nothing bigger than to achieve world peace," he would say again 
and again a Miss America-like idealist, but as Commander in Chief of the 
most lethal army in history.

The book's implications are frightening not just because they raise the 
very questions that aren't being asked, but because the "inside" 
information coincides so accurately with what's been perceived on the 
outside all along. The attacks of Sept. 11 were a pretext, and so is the 
so-called war on terrorism. The aim is much larger. The question is not 
whether the Bush cabinet will take on that aim, or whether it can convince 
Americans to endorse it. The question is how, and when. And part of the 
answer is a book like "Bush at War," which achieves both the "how" and 
implies the "when." It invites that mythical average American to have a 
seat at those super-secret NSC meetings, to watch the commander in chief in 
action and to sense his zeal for "world peace." It turns the reader into a 
partner in the grand design, an insider who, like most members of the Bush 
cabinet, don't question the president's aims, but tell him what he wants to 
hear. The president, Woodward writes, is "casting his mission and that of 
the country in the grand vision of God's master plan." As such, what he 
wants to hear from his cabinet is how to turn the Battle Hymn of the 
Republic into kinetic energy for the Pentagon. What he wants to hear from 
Americans is "You da man."

The book's title summarizes the 352-page manifesto without meaning to be so 
reductively simple minded. And yet the meaning of the Bush White House is 
exactly that simple, that mindless. It is about Bush's war not the 
nation's, not the world's. To a president who thinks he's personally doing 
God's work and the world a favor, a doctrine needs be no more complicated 
than "you're either with us or against us," with one correction. He 
actually means, "You're either with me or against me." Richard Nixon would 
be proud.

Pierre Tristam is a Daytona Beach News-Journal editorial writer and 
columnist. He can be reached at ptristam at att.net.

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