Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Embedded Journalist" Bob Woodward at Ithaca College, 18 April

Washington Post staffer Bob Woodward will speak at Ithaca College on 18 April in an event open to the public.

The college has not yet announced ticket details for the event, which is likely to draw wide attendance.

Woodward is famous as the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the Watergate conspiracy for the Washington Post with fellow reporter Carl Bernstein.

In recent years, Woodward has generated controversy as a so-called embedded journalist within the Bush administration, trading high-level access for detailed but uncritical best-selling books, and frequently withholding newsworthy information from the public (and his employer, the Washington Post) for use in his books.

Most recently, Woodward has voiced rigorous partisanship for his contacts within the Bush adminstration in comments on the trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson. Before the trial began, on the Larry King show, Woodward said,

First of all, this began not as somebody launching a smear campaign . . . I'm quite confident we're going to find out that it started as a kind of gossip, as chatter . . . I don't see an underlying crime here.

The trial showed that there was indeed a smear campaign launched by the White House, that it was not innocent gossip, and that it was criminal. Lewis Libby was convicted on four of five counts and faces thirty years in prison.

It would almost feel better to think that Woodward was so wrong because of diminshed capacities, instead of diminished integrity, but it seems clear that he has gone from investigator to apologist. He went on to say, about the substance of the Plame case,

They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And it turned out it was quite minimal damage.

Easy for him to say, as Plame's career ended, and her covert work (and likely her contacts) were exposed. And for what?

Woodward's complacency is difficult to accept - but simple to understand, ironically, when thinking back to the famous phrase from Deep Throat about the Watergate scandal: Follow the Money.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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