Bob Woodward was the man who took down a President, today he is man taken down BY a president.
Recently famed journalist Bob Woodward got into a scrap with the Obama Administration over his alleged misreporting of the sequester. He claims that Obama’s people threatened him if he reported a story that inaccurately claims Obama “moved the goal post” on demanding new revenues, despite the fact that Obama has always ran on raising taxes on the wealthy and eliminating tax loopholes for corporations. Well I could fill you in on the details, but perhaps it’s best to let the one, the only, the revered Jon Stewart bring you up to speed:
Once the emails were leaked, Woodward looked like a complete fool. As John Stewart claims, nobody begins a threat with an apology. Journalists and commentators began to mock Woodward as a cry baby, as a fool, Huffington Post called Bob a Drama King. So of course, Woodward is back peddling today faster than a uni-cyclist heading toward a football team. Now he is alleging that everybody else made the claims of threats, yet when you see it from the horses mouth, what can be said but the truth. While the media over reported the story and built it up, the one who deserves the credit for wasting everyone’s time is ol’ Woodward himself.
So if this ended up being a waste of time, why bring it up?
Well because it shows the sad state of journalism in this country. A person is taken at their word instead of reading the facts, for one. Yet more importantly, the news media takes to these beefs between people with more enthusiasm than avid rap listeners in the 90’s! In fact, outside of the whole shooting each other thing, many of the rap beefs of the 90’s were handled more maturely than these lame shouting matches, that take on all of the sophistication of a 3rd grade cafeteria “yo mama” battle.
What will it take for journalism to look back on its once respected trade and see that they need to take a long look in the mirror?
Even Woodward, the once neophyte who brought teeth to journalism has been reduced to a game of telephone with mean spirited reporters.
How did it come to this?
For his work in bringing the Nixon corruption and secrecy behind Watergate to light, I will always have immense respect for Bob Woodward. He and co-journalist Carl Bernstein worked tirelessly to expose the deception and scandal of the Nixon White House, even when no body paid any attention to them. They won over the support of their editor and even publisher, who all took the plunge with the duo and exposed one of the greatest abuses of power in American political history.
They were so successful that every subsequent generation of journalists has been keenly aware of their presence many aspiring to be the next Woodward and/or Bernstein. I mean, they were played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President’s Men! How often is a journalist ever honored like that?
During the Bush years he wrote 3 books about the Bush Administration’s plans to invade Iraq and their mismanagement of the following war. I own the last two books myself and the revelations he made were startling. Bush was exposed as incompetent and led around by Dick Cheney in “Plan of Attack”, often more concerned about getting the complimentary mints left in the Situation Room, rather than listen to a Pentagon debriefing on the country he would later invade. Other revelations were made as well, an incompetent Donald Rumsfeld and confused and increasingly disillusioned Bush all of which mismanaged a war they didn’t understand at all, while a bitter Collin Powell became forced out of the inner circle. Vanity Fair likened Woodward to Walter Cronkite and marked his decision to cut hard into Bush with his third book State of Denial as the true sign that the Iraq War and the entire Bush Administration was failing.
At the time, these seemed like a triumph of a journalist so revered, he was given unprecedented access and not only lived to tell the tale, he wrote a trilogy about Bush, stabbed him hard in the back, then was given the same access to Obama!
Well, in Woodward’s case, this may have been a bridge too far. He was perhaps, too successful. It went to his head. As we have seen recently, Woodward is a man more concerned about making headlines then he is about writing hard-hitting stories.
While the fall of journalism and the 4th estate has many, many reasons, most of them related to economics and making money, chalk today’s failure on a staple that plagues many industries: larger than life egos that have outlived their usefulness and will not go quietly into that good night, at the detriment of their own reputation and the trade they once fought so hard to move forward.
I call it, Robert Mugabe Syndrome. It has plagued many who were fit to start the revolution yet not fit to lead it. Not to be confused with Donald Trump Syndrome, that’s when a large ego that is large for no reason becomes so irritating it becomes irrelevant.
Well in any case. Perhaps it is time for a new generation of journalists to come up and sweep out these sensationalist yellow journalists of today, the big talking heads that speak with no evidence and the 24 hour news cycle that reports almost zero actual news and does no reporting.
Democracy depends on journalism, which really explains why the state of our democracy is in such dire straights, doesn’t it?!