So here’s why I get paid an incredible amount of money to do my job: People shout at me. Every day. News flash. Journalists are less popular than Congress and Congress is less popular than cockroaches.
I mention all this because Bob Woodward titillated the political world in the build-up to today’s sequester by arguing that the White House was trying to brush him off the plate with an ominous email.
According to Woodward’s account, a top Obama administration official told Woodward that he would “regret” sticking to a narrative about the sequester that didn’t jive with the White House’s version.
Woodward has suggested repeatedly that the email was a veiled threat, and somehow falls outside the bounds of civil engagement between government, people in power, and the press.
To which I reply: Hokum. Piffle. Baloney. What’s worse, Woodward clearly knows it.
You don’t cover the most powerful politicians in the world for half a century, as Woodward has done, without learning that people sometimes raise their voices.
I’ve been called things by government officials that would turn your hair white (it actually did turn my hair white). And those are people I still drink beer and ski with.
Politics ain’t bean bag, a the saying goes, and neither is the art of telling true stories about politicians.
Yet in an interview last night with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Woodward repeated his chiding, injured tone, suggesting that he was given some kind of inappropriate dressing-down: “It’s not the way to operate in a White House.”
But first of all, that is exactly the way the White House has always operated from, like, the first time we had a White House.
And when you read the email exchange, you find that it was — in the world of political journalism — astonishingly cordial, profoundly non-threatening.
What’s more, the notion that anyone in Washington can “threaten” Bob Woodward, or would try to do so on a story as small-beer as the sequester, is simply laughable.
The conclusion across the jouralist-industrial complex — right left and center — is that Woodward made a fool of himself and for once the conventional wisdom is right.
Woodward committed the cardinal sin of trying very hard indeed to make the story about himself. Then one of the deans of the American compounded his error by turning out to be full of hot air.
Then he compounded the error yet again by peddling his sad tale to anyone who would listen, up to and including one of the deans of hot air Sean Hannity.
This is a guy who stood up to the malignancy of the Nixon machine, who penetrated some of the thickest veils of secrecy in Washington.
And now he’s got his nickers in a twist about a government official — a good friend of his, by the way — who got a little hot under the collar?
Yes, my friends, American journalism is not what it once was.