Tim Robinson, former Post editor:
Bob was not a good writer. Others have said English is a second language to Bob. Carl was the writer; Bob did the digging.
Bush responded to a question by saying, "I have no war plans on my desk." But Woodward's book suggests otherwise: In November 2001, Bush apparently ordered Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to have General Tommy Franks begin devising war plans, and, five weeks later, Franks briefed the president on the military's initial strategy for attacking Iraq. How can Bush square these conflicting narratives? Perhaps he was speaking literally. According to Woodward, "That desk, I've been there. … [There's] never anything on it. And he keeps a clean desk."
In a New York Times piece on the film's troubled distribution, Feldman complained, "We didn't get the usual kind of answers you get when you're showing people a $13 million dollar picture. The majors turned it down even though we were going to pay the prints and advertising costs. They wouldn't turn down your wedding pictures if you pay for the prints and advertising." That may be true, but it doesn't take into account that the average wedding picture has more artistic value than Wired. Unless, of course, your wedding pictures also open with John Belushi's bloated corpse belching, then fleeing his body bag so he can embark on wacky posthumous misadventures with a wisecracking Puerto Rican guardian angel cab-driver.
The real rap on Woodward isn’t that he makes things up. It’s that he takes what powerful people tell him at face value; that his accounts are shaped by who coöperates with him and who doesn’t; and that they lack context, critical awareness, and, ultimately, historic meaning.
That this crude personalization works to narrow the focus, to circumscribe the range of possible discussion or speculation, is, for the people who find it useful to talk to Mr. Woodward, its point. What they have in Mr. Woodward is a widely trusted reporter, even an American icon, who can be relied upon to present a Washington in which problematic or questionable matters will be definitively resolved by the discovery, or by the demonstration that there has been no discovery, of “the smoking gun,” “the evidence.” Should such narrowly-defined “evidence” be found, he can then be relied upon to demonstrate, “fairly,” that the only fingerprints on the smoking gun are those of the one bad apple in the barrel, the single rogue agent in the tapestry of decent intentions.
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