Gushy press coverage of Bob Woodward's new book is a disgrace
Washington Post biggie Bob Woodward's swamp bestseller, called Fear, claiming that the Trump administration is having a "nervous breakdown," is now out, and the press is having a field day.
Journalists are busy repeating the claims of this anonymously sourced book, chapter and verse, because it's a book that says exactly what they want it to say. And who knows? Maybe they'd like a job from him, too.
This kind of uncritical reportage is problematic, and not for just minor reasons.
Why do the media just repeat the stuff in Woodward's book with no independent verification? They're so-called reporters, so it's their job to treat everything they cover with some reasonable skepticism. In this, they don't show it.
What's more, Woodward's book, with all its unsubstantiated and noticeably negative claims, breaks the most basic rules of journalism, which ought to be a red flag to the rest of them.
All it seems to be is third parties and anonymous sources supposedly telling Woodward what others have said.
How is that at all different from the recent press scandal, where Woodward's former partner in crime (or whatever), Carl Bernstein, got caught quoting the lies from Lanny Davis about Michael Cohen?
This being the Woodward end of that Woodstein team, how is it at all different from the controversy Woodward ginned up for himself back in 1987, when he claimed to have gotten a "deathbed confession" from the dying former Reagan-era CIA director, Bill Casey, who allegedly said he knew about arms-trafficking during the Iran contra scandal because "I believed"? Casey's widow said that was an utter fabrication, something he made up to sell books. Others speculated that Casey, who was barely able to speak from his hospital bed, was telling Woodward, "Please leave."
Now we have more of the same from "deathbed confession" Woodward, claiming that President Trump's chief of staff, General John Kelly, called Trump an "idiot" and said he had a terrible job. Weird, because Kelly just signed up for two more years. Why is an anonymous source more credible than Kelly?
It gets worse. Supposedly, defense secretary General Jim Mattis said President Trump knows little about foreign policy, but Mattis obviously didn't tell Woodward that.
What we have is another gossip book from cowards too cowardly to come out and say what they want to say, probably fearing they'd get the slander and libel lawsuits they'd deserve. But since the book trashes Trump, the media treat it as the truth.
As if this hasn't been habitually happening in the mainstream press since the beginning of the Trump administration. Remember Michael Wolff's hideous book. Remember the strange claims from Omarosa Manigault-Newman's book. It's rubbish and distortions. How many anonymous sources have to give the media made up info before they quit printing it?
This is the same media that buried stories about the Clintons and women, and the same media that buried the Weinstein story, most notably NBC.
The press doesn't look good in this. And it's playing the same game that has got it into so much discredit with the public. Now the media are trying to shove this on us. We're not buying.
Image credit: Exchanges Photos via Flickr, CCO 1.0, public domain.