Bob Woodward's patronizing haughtiness was everywhere last night on Larry King. I haven't been talked down to that much since I was introduced to Shaquille O'Neal. I get it now: we all just don't get it. The heroic Woodward wasn't trying to hide anything or maintain his access, he was just too busy doing "incredibly aggressive reporting" on "immense questions" about Iraq to be distracted by "a casual, off-hand remark" that, even on the eve of the Libby indictment, as Plamegate threatened to paralyze the White House, didn't strike the legendary reporter as even "a firecracker" of a story.
Woodward's performance was, to borrow a phrase, "laughable" -- particularly the way he kept tossing in references to Watergate, strapping on those glory days like a protective armor. Over the course of "the full hour," he mentioned Watergate four times, Ben Bradlee three times, Deep Throat twice, Carl Bernstein twice, and Richard Nixon and Katharine Graham once each. Memo to Bob: we get this, too. Your reporting once brought down a president. But that only makes your "journalistic sins" on Plamegate all the more appalling and disappointing.
It was pathetic watching the real life Robert Redford reduced to holding up old headlines to fight off charges that he's just carrying water for the powerful. Color me convinced. At least until I reread Plan of Attack.
I also found it really interesting that King's interview with Woodward, like his recent interview with Judy Miller, was pre-taped -- making it impossible for either of them to have to interact directly with the public and deal with viewer calls and questions. Could it really be a coincidence that these two star reporters both took no viewer calls on a show famous for them?
Since King has a rule about always trying to do his show live -- it's not called Larry King on Tape, after all -- we sent an email to the show asking why the Woodward interview had been taped. Scheduling conflicts, we were told.
Which raised the question: who had the scheduling conflict, Woodward or King? I doubted it was Larry's since I had been at the party at the Mondrian Hotel's Skybar to celebrate the release of his wife Shawn's new CD, "In My Own Backyard". The party was called for 7:00 p.m. and the Mondrian is located at 8440 Sunset Blvd. CNN's Los Angeles studios are just down the road at 6430 Sunset, so King could easily have done the show live and been at the party before the first drink had been poured (I arrived at the party late, by which time Larry had already left to fly to New York for tonight's interview with Jerry Seinfeld).
So I called Larry this morning. "I spoke to Woodward," he told me, "and I told him we could either tape the interview or we could do it live and I'd be a little late for Shawn's party. He said, 'Let's tape it.' But I don't think he was ducking anything."
I beg to differ. On the show, Woodward talked about a reporter's "obligation to get information out to the public." It sounded very noble. But when given the choice between doing the show live with calls for the aforesaid public or taping the show without viewer calls, he chose the latter. Maybe he just really, really didn't want Larry to miss a second of Shawn's big bash (incidentally, I've had the first track of Shawn's new CD on repeat all morning).
As for Miller, King told me her interview had been taped because "she had to go to a dinner." It was actually -- as I was told by people who were there -- a small dinner party thrown by Mitch Rosenthal of Phoenix House in New York. Hmm, let's weigh those options: attend a small dinner party or allow the public you theoretically serve the chance to ask questions? No contest -- if you want to avoid all those tedious questions bloggers representing the public have been raising for weeks.
Thanks for the openness, guys.
It's too bad. Maybe someone would have called in and asked Woodward why, despite all his "incredibly aggressive reporting" and all that has come out about Plamegate, he still claims he hasn't yet "seen evidence" of an "organized effort" to "slime" Joe Wilson and his wife.
So we're supposed to believe that a gaggle of Bush administration officials just happened to decide on their own volition, at about the same time, to mention that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA to Bob Woodward, Judy Miller, Matt Cooper, Robert Novak, Walter Pincus, and lord who knows who else. Sure, Bob, whatever you say.
A quick review:
Matt Cooper was leaked to, realized that Wilson was being slimed, and promptly told his readers about it in an article called "A War on Wilson?."
Bob Novak was leaked to, realized that Wilson was being slimed, and promptly did the leakers' bidding by outing Valerie Plame.
Judy Miller was leaked to, realized that Wilson was being slimed, and promptly chose not to pursue the story, sticking "Valerie Flame" into a forgotten drawer.
And Bob Woodward, Watergate hero and journalistic superstar, was leaked to but, apparently unable to understand what was really going on, promptly did nothing for close to two and a half years... and still doesn't get it.
Don't worry, Bob. We'll always have Watergate, Watergate, Watergate, Watergate, Watergate...