Woodward Ho!

I'm afraid I agree with Alex Pareene that reporter Bob Woodward has become a very poor example of what a reporter should be. This is an opinion I've held since about half past Wired, the book he wrote about John Belushi. Even if he got the details of that story straight — and there's some question that he did — he sure seemed to miss the human side of what he was reporting on…and it was the kind of story where only the human side mattered.

Since then, Woodward has become somewhat larger than whatever he writes about. Pareene says the same thing I've believed for some time about Woodward; that important folks talk to him because he's Bob Woodward, they give him their versions of whatever happened, he decides which one to believe and then that's it. Usually, he opts for the one that seems to include the juiciest-sounding inside details…and then the people who want to believe his story think he's a great journalist and the ones who don't think he's lost it. Me, I think he lost it a while ago and I don't trust him even when he's revealing bad things about politicians I already distrust.

And as the article notes, some of Woodward's credibility on All the President's Men has slipped away. It does appear that he and Bernstein distorted some of the truth, not about Nixon or the story they covered, but about how they covered it and how good their sources were. I don't think they were worse than the average good reporter but they also weren't a whole lot better. A lot of their notoriety comes from the fact that they were working for the Washington Post, aka "The newspaper Nixon hates." Others in the press exposed as much of the Watergate story as did Woodward and Bernstein but no one else was as directly attacked by the White House for their reporting. That meant that when Nixon went down, no one else looked as heroic and vindicated. It's a shame they became such celebrities because they were more valuable to us as reporters.