Carol Platt Liebau: A Sorry Excuse . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Sorry Excuse . . .

So Bob Woodward has finally admitted to The Washington Post that he was told the identity of Joe Wilson's wife over two years ago -- but didn't inform his bosses at the paper of that fact until late last month. Incidentally, that's after Lewis Libby was indicted for testimony that might have been deemed irrelevant had Woodward stepped forward at the appropriate time. (No, it doesn't justify Libby in lying, if he did so. But it does reveal the needlessly harmful consequences of Woodward's decision to withhold relevant information from the investigation).

It must be grating for the rest of the Post's reporters to watch Woodward engage in activity that, if attempted by others, would earn them a pink slip and a walk out the door. In any case, it's pretty clear that Woodward is the big man on the Post campus -- how else can someone with relevant information simply tell another reporter at his own paper that he declines to participate in coverage of a big, important story, about which he has first-hand knowledge?

In the end, what seems clear is that The Washington Post, a great newspaper, was burned by the selfishness of one of its premier employees. Apparently, Woodward just didn't want to be subpoenaed -- and that's all that mattered, as far as he was concerned.

Of course, that interview he gave on Larry King, where he characterized the Plame investigation as one of minimal importance, takes on a whole new meaning; obviously, Woodward had his own reasons for underplaying its significance. And even though I agree with him on the substance, the next time I hear Woodward opine, it'll be hard not to wonder if some other, unknown agenda is motivating his opinion.

And it's interesting to remember that we wouldn't know even today about what Woodward knew and when he knew it -- except that his source burned him.

It seems clear to me that Woodward was saving the big scoop for his forthcoming book -- whatever the damage to Lewis Libby, Karl Rove, The Washington Post, or anyone or anything else. Not a pretty day for The Post or for the one-time crusading journalist of the Watergate era.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

Watergate a sorry excuse for many errors since.

11:53 PM  
Blogger American by Choice said...

What Woodward got Pincus to do is MUCH worse than what you describe. He was, as it turns out, a key figure because of the timing of his conversation and so its support for Libby's contention that he was not the instigator. Yet he was left out of the story completely, which makes Pincus reporting not just wrong but deliberately misleading.

5:25 AM  

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