A Couple of Bobs

September 27, 2010


The hard life of a modern journalist.

(Illustration found here).

In 1976, when the movie, “All the President’s Men,” was released, I’d been on the job about 18 months as a police reporter — a newbie nearly in the world of newspapers — and had discovered I was a natural at it, taking to the newsroom like a duck to water.
Watching Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford — couple of the most-noted actors of the time — portray Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward as they scrabbled through the Watergate scandal created a sense of time and place for young, impressionable journalists.

Fast forward to the now and the journalism practiced in the mid-1970s is all but gone.
Even the Washington Post, once the pinnacle of true journalism, has become a flack document spinning more bullshit than Ron Ziegler and is currently nothing more than a hack publication catering mainly to right-wing wing-nuttery and crap.
And Bob Woodward?
A rich, older man sitting on top of the media world — a gossip-mongering flack.

One of the best commentators around with an insight on the military and the media is Andrew J. Bacevich, who has replaced the late, great Gen. Bill Odom as my most-favorite best reflective voice on shitfaced US policy.
Bacevich as a great piece up at Tomdispatch on how Bob Woodward has descended from working journalist to Washington insider writing about tripe.
Incidentally, last fall a strategic document on General Stan McNasty (oops, I’m sorry) Stanley McChrystal and his counterinsurgency “surge” for Afghanistan was leaked to the Washington Post, and of course, under Bob Woodward’s byline.
And accordingly, if the so-called surge wasn’t okayed by Obama, McChrystal and the generals made it known the Afghan conflict was “will likely result in failure” — ratcheting-up pressure on the prez.
In a lead-in to Bacevich’s post, Tom Engelhardt, (the ‘tom’ in tomdispatch), put the McChrystal leak in a DC-political-beltway perspective:

The frustration of a commander-in-chief backed into a corner by his own generals, the angry backbiting Woodward reportedly reveals in his book, all of it was, at least in part, a product of that leak and how it played out.
In other words, looked at a certain way, Woodward facilitated the manufacture of the subject for his own bestseller.
A nifty trick for Washington’s leading stenographer.
Woodward reportedly reveals in his book, all of it was, at least in part, a product of that leak and how it played out.

Woodward’s had the practice.

Bacevich’s whole column is well-worth reading.
A few snips:

Once a serious journalist, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward now makes a very fine living as chief gossip-monger of the governing class.
Early on in his career, along with Carl Bernstein, his partner at the time, Woodward confronted power. Today, by relentlessly exalting Washington trivia, he flatters power.
His reporting does not inform.
It titillates.
A new Woodward book, Obama’s Wars, is a guaranteed blockbuster.
It’s out this week, already causing a stir, and guaranteed to be forgotten the week after dropping off the bestseller lists.
For good reason: when it comes to substance, any book written by Woodward has about as much heft as the latest potboiler penned by the likes of James Patterson or Tom Clancy.

Essentially, news reports indicate, Woodward has updated his script from 2002.
The characters have different names, but the plot remains the same.
Talk about jumping the shark.

This evening Woodward was interviewed by Diane Sawyer at ABC News and came across not a journalist, but some kind of above-the-fray spokesman discussing Obama’s sad predictament — and Sawyer’s voice-over describing Obama’s Pentagon challenge, including him taking shit from the “brilliant David Petraeus” (Sawyer’s words).
See here the encounter between this lip-locking couple of long-time US media hotshots, who most-likely believe their news shit don’t stink.

And that young reporter sitting in the dark, intently watching Bob Redford play Bob Woodward more than 30 years ago, would probably think back then journalism as practiced in 2010 A.D. would be part of a dark and moody, science-fiction novel.

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