Three cheers to Bob Woodward for corroborating Michael Wolff’s brilliant expose of the mess in the Trump White House. I am really really glad Bob Woodward has written Fear.
It backs up Michael Wolff’s bombshell observations and insider quotes in his book, Fire and Fury. But alas, my favorite newspeople at MSNBC have jumped to praise Bob Woodward’s occasionally pedantic writing to compare Wolff’s book unfavorably with Woodward’s.
Woodward is being lauded in this news cycle as “meticulous.” Not necessarily a meticulous observation.
Back in 1982 when Janet Cooke turned a feature story to Washington Post brass including assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, he assumed her story was true. Woodward was the head of the Metro section at the Post and quickly promoted the 26-year-old Cooke to his elite team. Woodward recalls being blown away by Cooke’s story of an 8-year-old African-American heroin addict in the slums of D.C.
Woodward didn’t vet Cooke’s earlier drafts because he didn’t see any libel issues– “Jimmy,” the little boy in question, was anonymous.
Even though on a subsequent story about a prostitute Cooke could not produce her source.
Even though Woodward later realized no pusher would shoot up a child in the presence of a reporter.
Woodward and the other brass nominated Cooke for a Pulitzer, which Cooke won and subsequently returned, because “Jimmy” never existed, and her feature story was a fabrication.
“Janet had written a great piece,” Woodward later recalled. “This story was so well-written and tied together so well that my alarm bells simply didn’t go off. My skepticism left me. I was personally negligent.”
Today, desperate to invent a news cycle, TV talking heads mumble that Woodward has more experience writing about politics than my former colleague Michael Wolff.
It’s a toss-up: for years Wolff wrote about politics in a New York Magazine column that rocked the political landscape.
Let’s give credit where it is due.
Michael Wolff broke the Trump White House story, wrote it superbly and in break-neck speed.
Bob Woodward wrote the book that backed him up.
Bob Woodward is an expert. But he’s not the expert.