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Bob Woodward's Tabloid Tendencies
October 2, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

In this journalism professor's eyes, Bob Woodward is no journalist.

He appears to have given up that profession a long time ago in favor of selling books. Let's drop the pretense and call him what he is, the "Kitty Kelley of the Beltway."

If you doubt his tabloid tendencies, look at when and how he makes his disclosures.

Journalistic ethics dictate that a reporter who is in possession of vital information that could potentially affect the policy direction of the nation should disclose the material in a timely manner.

Woodward evidently lives by a different code. When it comes to guarding secrets, the guy has quite a track record. One of Woodward's previous books, "Veil," relied on a deathbed interview with former CIA Director William Casey.

Woodward claimed to have had a lengthy interview with Casey, who was in a hospital and reportedly at times in a comatose state. The conversation purportedly yielded the equivalent of a last-minute confession, which became the basis of many of the lurid claims that Woodward made in his book.

Information obtained by Woodward from the former CIA director, if true, would have been critical for the public to have access to. Instead, Woodward withheld the story until, you guessed it, the release date of his book.

Publication dates are of utmost importance in Woodward's literary career. He hawks his books with the media savvy of Madonna and the paparazzi accommodations of Paris Hilton.

Woodward's itinerary for his latest tome is a perfect example. He took over "60 Minutes," got two spots on the "Today" show, snagged segments of "NBC Nightly News," landed limelight time on "Larry King Live," garnered "ABC World News Tonight" coverage and got face time with Charlie Rose. I suppose next he'll pop up on "Dancing with the Stars."

At the same time, Newsweek is serving up a cover story and the Washington Post is providing teaser headlines, enticing excerpts and blockbuster come-ons. No surprise that Simon & Schuster pushed the release date up by two days and cranked out 750,000 books for the first printing.

Woodward received White House assistance for his first two books on the Bush administration, "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack," and was criticized for being too Bush-friendly, an unforgivable sin in the current mainstream media establishment.

Now Woodward has written a hit piece, , "State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III," and released it in time to have an impact on the midterm elections, acceptable penance for Watergate's prodigal son and for getting his name restored to the beltway party A-list.

Predictably, the Democrats are jumping for joy over the Woodward book. Senate Dems have been repeating the title as if it were an incantation. And House Speaker wannabe Nancy Pelosi suggested, four times to the press, that President Bush was "in denial."

What's the so-called denial all about? Well, the main focus of the 500-page book is that former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Powell successor Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Senior White House adviser Michael Gerson, first lady Laura Bush and even the White House chef and Barney the dog wanted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be fired.

In addition, Woodward tells of secret White House visits by Henry Kissinger. In an appearance on "60 Minutes," Woodward revealed Kissinger's advice regarding Iraq: "Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy."

That sounds almost identical to what we've heard all along from the Bush administration.

It may be terse, tough, and to the point, but it's no state of denial.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

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Copyright © 2006
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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