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Ed Driscoll

The WaPo Continues to Devour Its Own

March 12th, 2013 - 10:23 pm

Fortunately, they’re available in the lobby; the Wikipedia page for Woodward’s book has already been updated with passages such as these:

In 2013 Tanner Colby, who had coauthored the 2005 Belushi: A Biography with Judy, wrote about how the book exposes Woodward’s strengths and weaknesses as a journalist. While in the process of researching the anecdotes related in the book, he found that while many of them were true, Woodward missed, or didn’t try to find, their context.

The late Michael Crichton coined a phrase he called “the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect,” named after the Nobel Prize-winning physicist:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Which, ultimately, is what Colby’s article boils down to. In other words, if Woodward didn’t produce a satisfactory write-up of the day they shot Belushi’s Animal House cafeteria scene, or didn’t provide an appropriately sympathetic portrait of Belushi as his life spiraled out of control, we shouldn’t trust his reporting on anything else. Or at least in articles that says bad things about The Anointed One. Gotcha.

(And again, if the Washington Post wants to use its bandwidth to tell us that reporters from the Post botch their reporting, carry on. I’m sure Newsbusters and the Media Research Center will appreciate the paper making their jobs that much easier.)

Near the beginning of his article, Colby writes:

When Wired came out, many of Belushi’s friends and family denounced it as biased and riddled with factual errors. “Exploitative, pulp trash,” in the words of Dan Aykroyd. Wired was so wrong, Belushi’s manager said, it made you think Nixon might be innocent. Woodward insisted the book was balanced and accurate. “I reported this story thoroughly,” he told Rolling Stone. Of the book’s critics, he said, “I think they wish I had created a portrait of someone who was larger than life, larger than he was, and that, somehow, this portrait would all come out different. But that’s a fantasy, not journalism.” Woodward being Woodward, he was given the benefit of the doubt. Belushi’s reputation never recovered.

Gee, I’ll bet many of Nixon’s associates felt the same way after their reputations were torn apart by The Final Days and especially after All the President’s Men and its movie version, starring as Woodward none other than Robert Redford at the peak of his matinee idol career. (And to repeat my request from the PJ Lifestyle blog, for a tiny amount of counter-balance, can we please finally see Victor Lasky’s It Didn’t Start With Watergate in Kindle form?) But if the Washington Post and its spin-off publications want to continue to destroy their single best-known journalist’s reputation, as another comedian who also did his own tour of duty on SNL famously said…

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No wonder, John Podhoretz looked at Colby’s article and tweeted:

Actually, Podhoretz’s whole Twitter stream on the above article, which is where I originally found it, is also worth a read.

* Since the left views the personal as being the same as the political (see also, Colby’s hit piece above), from their perspective, what has Woodward written that isn’t a political tome?

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This is the new version of the old Soviet erasure of persons who failed to toe to the latest party line.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I hear Warner Brothers is going to release an updated cut of "All the President's Men" with Bob Woodward digitally erased from the entire film.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The propaganda machine is doing their best to clean away the mess of their messiah.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm barely old enough to remember when liberal meant anti-establishment. The liberals have morphed into their opposites.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is similar to Knoll's Law of Media Accuracy: "Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true—except for the rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge." Erwin Knoll was editor of "The Progressive" magazine.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I find it telling that of all Woodward's books this is the one chosen to trash. A fun read, but hardly a work of lasting value. It's clear that they're trying to influence the type of people who are the most die-hard Obama fans, people only aware of superficial, transient pop culture - and I include most of the media lefties in this group - who have probably never read anything else Woodward has written.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don’t know if I would go that far.

I have come to find that most people under the age of 30 have no idea who John Belushi was. While I agree that this is just an attempt to trash Bob Woodward’s reputation, keep in mind that Wired was Woodward’s only non-political best-seller. Woodward is a leftist himself, so Wired is the only safe choice for the leftist-media to trash.

That said, I sympathize with Belushi’s family in regard to Woodward – they wanted a biographer, they got a journalist. Rather than attempting to inscribe Belushi’s personality, Woodward sensationalized the man’s life to a point where the caricature that emerged lacked any depth at all. (If what I’m saying doesn’t make sense, think of how our culture remembers Nixon compared to other presidents – he is usually treated as a villain from a Warner Bros. cartoon. The real man, while flawed, was not evil.)

In a sense, Driscoll’s got it right: the sudden interest in Wired is little more than an attempt to discredit Woodward. But the fact is, his only crime was doing what journalists do – they sensationalize. Truth be told, I don’t trust Woodward and I am wary that conservatives seem to be suddenly holding him as an example of a respectable journalist. Professional journalism has long been discredited as a practice, but we allow it to live because in their stories there still exists those kernels of truth. Belushi was an addict, Nixon was behind Watergate, etc.

Woodward is no better than the rest of them, but he made the mistake of sensationalizing the wrong thing and now his own people have turned on him. Egh. I have no sympathy for him. Let them eat their own.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pop culture liberals have always had a burr under their saddle about "Wired", but for the most part held that anger in for a quarter-century because Woodward was still seen as one of them -- they could easily have joined in the chorus of skeptics about former CIA Director Bob Casey's alleged deathbed confession to Woodward that came out a few years after "Wired", but said nothing. It's not until now that Slate opts to dredge up the anger over the Belushi book, because Woodward has violated the covenant by making Obama look bad.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The left will not tolerate any stepping out of line, or is it goosestepping? Statitst thugs are like that, neurotics who have to be agreed with, completely.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No offense, but who is Tanner Colby anyway?

Here is his bio at his site, no less:

"Tanner Colby is the coauthor of Belushi: A Biography and the New York Times bestseller, The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Danielle, and their dog, Spanky."

Enough said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Gell-Mann amnesia effect explains why the American public believed Bill Clinton about bombing the Serbs, right after he had been impeached for perjury. It was clear that he had indeed committed perjury, despite the fact that the Senate refused to do their duty in removing him for that.

Ever since then, presidents can lie to us about everything, all the time, with impunity, and they know it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Eh, I wouldn't get too worked up about this. Sure, the Slate article is motivated by a desire to counteract the impressions left by Woodward's story about his Gene Sperling encounter. But Woodward is just like any other journalist, reporting always passes through a filter. Some facts are presented, others ignored, phrases are used to color readers' reactions to the presented facts. Sometimes the journalist has an agenda, and sometimes the journalist simply lacks a clue. It's important to read everything with healthy skepticism, and look for alternative coverage of the same story. Each account may have some truth in bits and pieces, but the "whole truth" usually escapes any single telling.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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