Unexamined Premises

The Battle of Bob Woodward

The Obama administration, I believe, will come to rue the day it declared war on the dean of the Washington press corps, Bob Woodward of Watergate fame. Now, I have never met Woodward, although I’ve been friendly with Carl Bernstein, the other half of the Watergate duo, for many years. But from what I know of both men, and of the journalists of their generation, I believe them to be good old-fashioned reporters for whom the story is everything. And if this is the moment when the last remnants of what used to be the American journalistic establishment dig in their heels and finally draw the line on rank partisanship — well, it’s about good and goddamned time.

It’s axiomatic today that “mainstream” journalists are corrupt tools of the liberal ascendancy, ethical roundheels who finally found Mr. Dreamboat in Barack Hussein Obama and have spent the years since 2008 lying on their backs and moaning. And that’s partly true. Obama was the culmination of everything they had wished for since the civil-rights movement, which to journalists of a certain age is the equivalent of Mao’s Long March, the event by which they define themselves. He was black, but not too black; indeed, were Obama a Republican (stop laughing) he’d be pilloried on the Left as an “Oreo,” black on the outside and white on the inside. He had gone to all the right schools (Columbia and Harvard), and yet he had a legend-ready exotic background (the “narrative”) that distinguished him from the usual private elementary school/Exeter/Yale progressives. Punahou? Who knew anything about Punahou? (Well, I do, but that’s a story for another time.) And the fact that his middle name was redolent of the culture that had wantonly attacked us on 9/11… bonus!

All those things are true, and yet — speaking as someone who began his journalistic career in 1971 — they are more true of the younger generation(s) of journalists, kiddies like the Juicebox Mafia ideologues masquerading as reporters, for whom leftist attitude is everything, especially when it is put to the service of the Democratic Party. That is to say, I hope and pray that some of us old coots still believe in the reporter’s core mission: to find out the truth and publish it. Period. That the thrill lies in the hunt, and it doesn’t matter which variety of big game you’re hunting as long as you bag it.

So return with me now to those glory days of 1972-74, when “Woodstein” was chasing the biggest story of their lives. Those of us in the profession (I was working at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle at the time) were enthralled by what the lads were doing — not running Nixon to ground or even, ultimately, bringing him down, but getting their stories on the front page every day. That was the true mark of journalistic success, and everything else was commentary. Our ethics were not those of The Party Line, but of The Front Page:


Which is why the hostility directed toward Woodward by the punks from the kindergarten klass of 1990 is so laughable, since they wouldn’t know a story if it came up and tried to change their red diapers for them. Mistaking ideology for ethics, the Juicers are incapable of understanding what the function of journalism used to be; hence their attack on Woodward for daring to correct the Emperor Hussein while the rest of them pull down paychecks from the Ministry of Propaganda and guard against any deviance from the prevailing orthodoxy, whatever it happens to be on that particular day.

I have no doubt that, like Lee and Meade at Gettysburg, Woodward blundered into this fight — he wasn’t looking to start something, just articulating the unexceptionable truth that, based on his reporting, the sequester was Obama’s idea, and that it was the height of hypocrisy for the president to rail against it and try to pin it on the GOP. (That tactic, by the way, is failing.) But here he is — even invited to speak at CPAC!

But now that the fight’s here, let’s have it. I think it’s entirely likely that the journalism I was taught (on the job, by the way, not in a classroom) is dead, having fallen victim to the radicalization of the universities, to mad credentialism, and to society’s overall abdication of moral standards in favor of “non-judgmentalism” and “fairness.” And, of course, the satanic code that makes all this possible, “political correctness” — a term worthy of the Gulag Archipelago.

Lefties used to say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Now they run from it like exploding vampires. But as my friend Bill Whittle likes to point out, all it takes is the light from a single candle to destroy a universe of darkness. And God’s first words in Genesis are, after all, “let there be light.”

Whose side are you on?