Monday, October 09, 2006

Lay off Bob Woodward, everyone

Two blocks from the entrance to the Rosslyn Metro stop at 1401 Wilson Boulevard lies an ordinary high rise building that holds a special place in history few of its tenants even know about. The bottom floor of that building’s parking garage at one of the farthest parking spaces from the central car ramp is where two men secretly met in 1972 to discuss a suspicious break-in at the Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Office Building and the rest is history.
The Watergate Scandal is not just a landmark event that has impacted politics ever since but it has also made heroes of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, the man who risked his personal safety and career to meet his informant in that garage.
Media critic Ben Bagdikian hailed the event as, "the single most spectacular act of serious journalism [of the 20th] century," Immortalized in the 1976 film All the President’s Men, Woodward and Bernstein’s work inspired a new generation of journalists and are a testament to the impact that inquisitive reporters with a desire to seek the truth can have on maintaining democracy within a system of free press/
Woodward, now the assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, has been making headlines again in the past few years. Woodward and story of Watergate briefly returned to the national spotlight last year with the revelation of Deep Throat’s identity as Mark Felt and people remembered the heroic efforts of Woodward and Bernstein with fondness. Tragically, however, his heroism has been lost on many of those same Americans who have criticized Woodward and turned his last couple of books into material that can be spun any which way for political purposes.
After releasing Bush at War in 2002, a chronicle of the administration’s response to the 9/11 attack, Woodward followed that with Plan of Attack in 2004 which chronicled the decision to wage war on Iraq. With exclusive interviews and exhaustive research, both books give a comprehensive insider’s take on what has been going on in the administration over the past few years. Released in an election year, many Democrats were critical of the book because to some extent it humanized President Bush and showed that he was not the authoritative war monster that he was made out to be.
However, things changed this past week with the arrival of his latest book State of Denial, where Woodward characterizes the administration as stubbornly refusing to change course on the war. Not surprisingly, once the Administration sensed that the book wasn’t going to portray them favorably, Presidential Advisor Dan Bartlett immediately refused to let Cheney or Bush be interviewed and had a copy of the book to be sent over so they could get started in their attempts to discredit the work as much as possible. The Republicans stopped considering Woodward to be on their side last week. The Republicans are currently launching a smear campaign about the book even though no one has claimed anything in the book to be factually incorrect, instead spouting out vague allegations that Woodward “didn’t connect the dots.”
Republicans are disappointed that Woodward is no longer on their side and Democrats who were free to dismiss him are eager to welcome him back to their team, and therein lies the problem. Have we forgotten that there are some values that go beyond party lines? When Bob Woodward met with Deep Throat in that garage 34 years ago, he was simply searching for truth and while that is an alien concept in our heavily Partisan culture today, it’s certainly not Bob Woodward’s fault,

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