Thread for destroying Woodward

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Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:37 am

Wow, that should do the trick.

Note the most important takeaway: Woodward legitimizing everything about the GOP-Trumpian regime and its players except for the chief baby himself. Obviously coordinated with the odious column by "Anonymous."

nplusonemag.com

PATRICK BLANCHFIELD

Dupe Throat
Bob Woodward’s self-parody

September 12, 2018
https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/onl ... pe-throat/

Bob Woodward. Fear: Trump in the White House. Simon & Schuster, 2018.

It is a bleak fact of American life that a brilliant woman can publicly speak the devastating truth about a prominent man for decades without his success being affected much at all. Joan Didion had Bob Woodward’s number back in 1996. Writing in the New York Review of Books, she skewered the famous journalist and his “disinclination . . . to exert cognitive energy on what he is told.” Selling a sexily packaged “insider’s inside story,” Woodward, per Didion, did more than just spin a “crudely personalized,” Great Man narrative history of recent events: he offered his powerful subjects near limitless opportunities for comprehensive image rehabilitation. For all his self-proclaimed rigor and attention to detail, Woodward’s work was at core defined by its “deferential spirit”—a basic, transactional pact in which he would be allowed access as long as he maintained his unquestioning credulity:

As any prosecutor and surely Mr. Woodward knows, the person on the inside who calls and says “I want to talk” is an informant, or snitch, and is generally looking to bargain a deal, to improve his or her own situation, to place the blame on someone else in return for being allowed to plead down or out certain charges. Because the story told by a criminal or civil informant is understood to be colored by self-interest, the informant knows that his or her testimony will be unrespected, even reviled, subjected to rigorous examination and often rejection. The informant who talks to Mr. Woodward, on the other hand, knows that his or her testimony will be not only respected but burnished into the inside story, which is why so many people on the inside, notably those who consider themselves the professionals or managers of the process—assistant secretaries, deputy advisers, players of the game, aides who intend to survive past the tenure of the patron they are prepared to portray as hapless—do want to talk to him.

In the twenty-two years since Didion’s diagnosis, Bob Woodward has gone on to write eleven further books, seven of them about contemporaneous presidencies. America’s turn to global war has been particularly good for Woodward, not least because the inside story of leaders in wartime makes for especially sexy copy—and since the reversals and tragedies of war itself mean politicians have added need for P.R. triage of the sort Woodward happily provides.

But if his four books on George W. Bush and two on Barack Obama were case studies in proving Didion’s point, Woodward’s latest, Fear: Inside the Trump White House, drives it home with almost excruciating feats of self-parody. It’s not just that Woodward’s self-consciously Serious approach to Serious People sputters and short-circuits when confronted with the ludicrously Unserious figure of Donald Trump himself (who, unlike previous Presidents, did not make himself available for Woodward to interview.) Rather, Fear showcases Woodward in his most abject and pathetic role as what Christopher Hitchens, who also saw him for what he was, called a “stenographer to power.” For page after dumbfounding page, Fear reproduces, with gobsmacking credulity, the self-aggrandizing narratives of factitious scoundrels. Didion was absolutely right to class Woodward’s work as fundamentally a kind of “political pornography.” But Fear is to Woodward’s previous oeuvre of political pornography what Fifty Shades of Grey is to Twilight: vampiric fan-fiction repackaged as middlebrow smut.

The book to which Fear obviously invites comparison is Michael Wolff’s recent Fire and Fury.1Fear covers a roughly similar period of time—from the campaign trail through the first year or so of the Trump presidency. (Wolff’s narrative cuts off in August 2017; Woodward’s in March 2018). Both books take their titles from Trump’s aggressive rhetoric on foreign policy, and North Korea and Kim Jong-un loom large in each. Both rely heavily on “deep background” material from a variety of insider players, Steve Bannon in particular (he also gets the best lines in Fear). Both are full of palace intrigue, high-profile feuds, and choice lines of abuse and snark. And both are self-consciously bestseller material—political nonfiction best suited for purchase at an airport, before getting in line for Panda Express.

But this is where the similarities end. In Fire and Fury and during the subsequent press tour, Wolff luridly capitalized on the frisson of his burning bridges with Trump. Woodward, by contrast, seems almost plaintive on the subject.2 And whereas Wolff embraced his over-the-top material with a kind of gonzo glee, Woodward proceeds with a halting, ponderous seriousness.

Woodward has never been a very good writer, but his literary failures have never been more apparent than in Fear, where the mismatch between the prose and the protagonists is almost avant-garde. Many sentences are overwrought to the point of being nonsensical. (“The first act of the Bannon drama is his appearance—the old military field jacket over multiple tennis polo shirts. The second act is his demeanor—aggressive, certain and loud.”) His reliance on cliché is laughable, particularly in his descriptions of characters with whom all of the book’s readers are already well-acquainted. Kellyanne Conway is “feisty” and Reince Priebus—a source whom Woodward conspicuously flatters—is an “empire builder.” Mohammed bin Salman is “charming” and has “vision, energy,” which suggests Woodward has been reading Tom Friedman columns. Jared Kushner has a “self-possessed, almost aristocratic bearing” (possibly the most self-evidently false detail in a book full of them). And the late John McCain is (of course) “outspoken” and a “maverick.” Woodward seems to have a fascination with the bodies and demeanor of older, military men: both Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster have “ramrod-straight posture,” and the latter is described as “high and tight,” even though he is conspicuously bald. Trump goes “through the roof” twice in a single chapter. And so on.

The abundance of such mediocre writing poses more than merely aesthetic problems. Throughout the book, Woodward does not clearly or consistently distinguish between when he is quoting people, paraphrasing them, or editorializing. At times, this liberal use of free indirect discourse is merely befuddling. Is Ivanka Trump a “charming huntress” in Priebus’s eyes, or Woodward’s? Is Trump “in great physical shape” and Paul Manafort’s wife a dead ringer for Joan Collins per Bannon, or Woodward himself? Who knows! But at other times, the confusion is more fundamental. In one of numerous sections where Trump questions the merits of America’s NATO membership, the text reads:

“I think we could be so rich,” Trump said, “if we weren’t stupid. We’re being played [as] suckers, especially NATO.” Collective defense was a sucker play.

Is this last sentence a paraphrase from one of the numerous other people in the meeting (Rex Tillerson, H.R. McMaster, Joseph Dunford)? Or is this Woodward’s own voice, remonstrating over Trump’s failure to take national security “seriously” (a repeated Woodward preoccupation)? The reader has no way of knowing, and contextual clues—paragraph breaks, source attribution, and quotation marks—are completely unhelpful.

This fundamental uncertainty rises to a matter of critical veridical concern repeatedly—particularly when Woodward is at his most vulnerable. Specifically, there are pages upon pages where Woodward reproduces extensive material from individual, high-profile sources: Bannon, Priebus, Gary Cohn, John Dowd, and, above all, Rob Porter. These sections contain some of the most salacious and provocative material in the book—White House staff shakeups, Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville, his legal team’s interactions with Mueller, and so on. They contain paragraphs of dialogue and block quotes—in quotation marks—extensive paraphrases, scene-setting, and the like. In every single one of the episodes, Woodward’s sources emerge as singular voices of wisdom, prudence, and moral clarity, and, above all, as always having the conversational upper hand. All this despite the fact that these figures have all left the White House in various states of disgrace or ignominy, and have a clear interest in narrating their experiences in the most self-congratulatory ways. At no point does Woodward evince a moment of skepticism vis-à-vis the material he has reproduced in bulk.

One example is worth quoting at length, since it neatly encapsulates the totality. For easily a third of the book, Woodward leans heavily on the testimony of Rob Porter, Trump’s former White House staff secretary. Porter, weirdly, emerges as a kind of hero for Woodward, conspiring with Cohn to prevent the President from signing documents that will have disastrous effects on trade and foreign policy and counseling Trump (or so he says) to pursue “unifying and taking the high road of racial healing” after Charlottesville. Trump may be abusive and crude and tempestuous to every other person in the book, interrupting them constantly, but in every scene in which he and Porter interact, he seems docile, hanging on the 40-year-old lawyer’s word, and even letting him pursue downright Socratic question-and-answer sessions. Toward the end of the book, Woodward relates the following scene.

Trump and Rob Porter were together in the President’s front cabin on Air Force One. Fox News was on the TV.

“Little Rocket Man,” Trump said proudly. “I think that may be my best ever, best nickname ever.”

“It is funny,” Porter said, “and it certainly seems to have gotten under Kim’s skin.” But, he asked, “What’s the endgame here? If we continue to amp up the rhetoric and get into a war of words and it escalates, what are you hoping to get out of this? How does this end?”

“You can never show weakness,” Trump replied. “You’ve got to project strength. Kim and others need to be convinced that I’m prepared to do anything to back up our interests.”

“Yes, you want to keep him on his toes,” Porter said. “And you want some air of unpredictability from you. But he seems pretty unpredictable. And we’re not sure, is he even well? Is he all mentally there? He doesn’t have the same political constraints that other people do. He seems very much to want to be taken seriously on the international stage.”

“You’ve got to show strength,” the president repeated.

“I wonder,” Porter plowed on, “if embarrassing him is more likely to sort of get him into submission or if it could also provoke him?”

Trump didn’t respond. His body language suggested that he knew Kim was capable of anything. Then he offered his conclusion: It was a contest of wills. “This is all about leader versus leader. Man versus man. Me versus Kim.”

It’s hard to decide what’s worse about this dialogue—its complete implausibility or its cheesiness, which would get its author banned from a fan fiction message board. And this dubiousness is obvious just on the face of things, without even considering Porter’s merits as a person or trustworthy source. But those are open questions, too. In the book’s second-to-last chapter, Woodward notes the following:

Porter left the White House on February 7 after two ex-wives went public with allegations that he had physically abused them. One released a photo showing a black eye that she said Porter gave her. Each, one to the press and one in a blog post, gave graphic descriptions of domestic abuse. Porter quickly concluded it would be best for all—his former spouses, his family and close friends, the White House and himself—to resign. He wanted to focus on repairing relationships and healing.

To which the reader presumably is meant to respond: Oh, well, OK then! before moving on, without pondering too strenuously whether the allegedly documented wife-beater might not be a credible source on other matters. Of course, Porter isn’t the only character whose heinous traits Woodward soft-pedals. (The far-right Mercer family is “a bit on the fringe,” but no more than that; Erik Prince is “founder of the controversial defense contractor Blackwater,”; Stephen Miller is introduced as “a young, hard-line policy adviser and speechwriter” with the question of what, exactly, he is hardline on only explained hundreds of pages later.) But Porter is the primary crux for vast swathes of Woodward’s account, at least before he departs to pursue “healing” (which, doubtless by sheer coincidence, is also the virtue he tells Woodward he encouraged Trump to pursue on issues of “racist tinge”).

At the center of this universe sits Trump, like the Blind Idiot God Azathoth in H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. If the self-serving narratives of personal accomplishment Woodward’s principals relate are dubious, their descriptions of Trump are not. He is impetuous and erratic, vulgar and incurious. A font of abuse, he showers invective on those around him. Per him, Giuliani is “like a little baby that need[s] to be changed”; Sessions has “no balls” and is a “mentally retarded” “dumb Southerner”; Priebus is “a little rat”; and more. As Trump’s carnivaleseque theatrics of dominance unfold, his officials contagiously turn on each other. McMaster calls Tillerson “a prick”; Scaramucci calls Priebus a “paranoid schizophrenic”; Bannon calls Christie a “fat fuck.” In a meeting in Priebus’s office, Bannon tries to cut Ivanka down to size by reminding her that she acts like she’s “in charge” when she’s just “on staff,” and she screams at him, “I’m not a staffer! I’ll never be a staffer. I’m the first daughter . . . and I’m never going to be a staffer!” Reading these tidbits, it is hard not think that all these worthless people deserve Trump, and one another.

There is little new here about Trump himself. The most interesting bit is a sequence in which Trump offers advice to an unnamed friend who “acknowledged some bad behavior toward women” (in Woodward’s words). The moment runs as follows (and note, again, the porousness between Woodward’s narration and direct quotes):

Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice. “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women,” he said. “If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. That was a big mistake you made. You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them. You showed weakness. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.”

This rings true: if Trump has any maxims at all, deny anything and be aggressive must rank chief among them (along with, if he even needs to formulate it consciously, treat women like shit). And as Woodward’s sources document, Trump lies constantly, about everything from his voting record to his political contributions to things he’s said in front of people on the record; when corrected, he simply agrees, and, undaunted, continues, momentum undiminished. Both Cohn and Dowd, his lawyer, frankly call him a liar.

But if Trump has a foremost sin in Woodward’s eyes, it’s that he is Not A Serious Person. With a characteristic fetish for matters of human intelligence and national security, Woodward faults Trump for being feckless and indifferent on matters of foreign policy, the stenographer’s ultimate litmus test of Seriousness. Woodward seems to sympathize with figures like Cohn and Mattis and Porter, who try to “smother” Trump in “facts and logic,” and, failing that, do end-runs around him to prevent him from making disastrous trade proclamations or signing off on reckless assassinations. Never mind that Mattis, the famously celibate, so-called “warrior monk,” seems positively priapic at the prospect of war with Iran and its “raghead mullahs.” At least, Woodward seems to cede, Mattis is Serious.

Unsurprisingly, Woodward has brought up the question of seriousness in his promotional tour for Fear, which he’s hawked as a kind of wakeup call. “People better wake up to what’s going on,” he told CBS Sunday Morning. “You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, ‘Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.’” One has to wonder what constitutes a serious crisis in Woodward’s eyes. To take just one example, the death toll resulting from the government’s botched response to the Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico has risen to 2,975—more than the number of Americans who died on September 11, and orders of magnitude more than the “sixty-four” that was the government’s official toll in the aftermath. This episode goes unmentioned in Woodward’s book.

It’s not just Puerto Rico. Key episodes of the Trump tenure—the type of thing you’d think a connoisseur of backroom politics and high-profile scandals like Woodward would be all over—go unmentioned, or hardly mentioned at all. The Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination is mentioned offhand, as a fait accompli. The effort to repeal Obamacare is barely touched on, and the first Stormy Daniels news, which occurred during the period of Woodward’s focus, never comes up. (Michael Cohen is name-dropped twice, both times in passing, and narrowly in relation to dealings with Russia.) Even the full scope of politicking between DC and Riyadh, and Mohammad bin Salman’s purges in May 2017, get more thorough treatments in Fire and Fury than here.

Any reader who has encountered a working television over the last year can recite the litany of interpersonal insults and staffing changes Woodward catalogues in this dull and shallow book. Throughout the Trump presidency, the mainstream press has functioned much like Woodward has in Fear, granting anonymity to the same sources and publishing “beat sweeteners” untraceable as such to most readers. If Woodward’s methods are at once more obvious and unscrupulous, it is only a difference of degree.

Like the New York Times’s White House coverage, Fear is remarkable above all for its profound hermeticism. It would seem that writing a book that fails to take into account not only the real consequences of the Trump Administration’s policies, but also those very policies themselves, requires more effort than simply describing, in broad yet selective detail, exactly what has unfolded over the last year and a half, or letting White House staffers spin histrionic yarns in which they’re always the Smartest Guys in the Room and talk like half-pint Sorkin characters. In his refusal to describe anything beyond the details of what we already know in broad outlines, Woodward is DC’s very own Georges Perec, his fetish for self-constraint a key aspect of his establishmentarian style. Why narrate when you can regurgitate? Less than even the stenography of power, this is stenography of power by the numbers.

And why, for that matter, write this book at all? If the “insider’s inside story” promised by Woodward’s earlier presidential books had any value, it was strictly as a response to scarcity: before social media and the Trump era’s all-consuming political coverage, some details really might have been missed. But now everything is predigested, and what’s missing is precisely what Fear lacks: deep historical context, narratives that place the human costs of Trump’s actions above his rhetoric. This writing exists across magazines and the internet, but it hasn’t yet emerged in book form. For now, all we have are the books we don’t need but that suck all the air out of coverage for weeks—and get plenty of cynical attention from Trump, too.

It is telling that Wolff’s Fire and Fury and Omarosa Manigault Newman’s Unhinged—both treated with disdain by a press corps that has allowed Woodward to publish unscrupulous book after unscrupulous book for decades—are both more urgent and consequential books than Fear. Woodward’s vacant high-mindedness has always been a charade, but it has never felt less appropriate to its moment. His facile obsession with aggressive foreign policy—an obsession shared by most of Washington DC’s elite—is this book’s most revealing and damning aspect.

Trump’s rhetoric on foreign policy is often grotesque, but so is the bipartisan consensus—and the wars it has started and sustained since Woodward began his journalistic career. So it is unsurprising that some of the sentiments Trump voices in Fear carry a kind of bracing, from-the-mouth-of-idiots clarity. “I’m tired of hearing that we have to do this or that to protect our homeland or to ensure our national security,” Trump whines at one point. And on the legacy of George W. Bush—a President whom Woodward took so seriously he devoted thousands of pages to him—Trump speaks with an even-a-broken-clock-is-right-once-a-day frankness: “A terrible President. He was a warmonger. He wanted to exert American influence and take democracy all throughout the world and wanted to be the world’s policeman and started all these wars.” On this point, he is not wrong. But this is the reason, more than any other, why Woodward cannot take him seriously.

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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Elvis » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:20 am

JackRiddler wrote:PATRICK BLANCHFIELD

Dupe Throat
Bob Woodward’s self-parody



Very good review, thanks (already sent it to a few who need to see it). It could maybe go deeper. I'm unfamiliar with Blanchfield and I wonder if he knows that Woodward, before he became a cub reporter who worked his way into the WaPo, had an enviable career as a Naval Intelligence officer with high-level assignments like briefing White House/NSC on daily raw intelligence. One of the people he often briefed was Alexander Haig, who Colodny believes later became Woodward's primary Deep Throat. When Colodny confronted Woodward about this (see Silent Coup, Colodny & Gettlin, etc.), Woodward denied ever being a Naval intelligence officer! Of course he eventually was forced to acknowledge it.

It seems to me that some background about Woodward's military intelligence career would fit right into Blanchford's review, considering these passages:

Blanchfield wrote:America’s turn to global war has been particularly good for Woodward, not least because the inside story of leaders in wartime makes for especially sexy copy—and since the reversals and tragedies of war itself mean politicians have added need for P.R. triage of the sort Woodward happily provides.


Fear showcases Woodward in his most abject and pathetic role as what Christopher Hitchens, who also saw him for what he was, called a “stenographer to power.”


Woodward seems to have a fascination with the bodies and demeanor of older, military men: both Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster


is this Woodward’s own voice, remonstrating over Trump’s failure to take national security “seriously” (a repeated Woodward preoccupation)? The reader has no way of knowing


With a characteristic fetish for matters of human intelligence and national security, Woodward faults Trump for being feckless and indifferent on matters of foreign policy, the stenographer’s ultimate litmus test of Seriousness. Woodward seems to sympathize with figures like Cohn and Mattis and Porter, who try to “smother” Trump in “facts and logic,” and, failing that, do end-runs around him to prevent him from making disastrous trade proclamations or signing off on reckless assassinations. Never mind that Mattis, the famously celibate, so-called “warrior monk,” seems positively priapic at the prospect of war with Iran and its “raghead mullahs.” At least, Woodward seems to cede, Mattis is Serious.


His facile obsession with aggressive foreign policy—an obsession shared by most of Washington DC’s elite—is this book’s most revealing and damning aspect.


Trump’s rhetoric on foreign policy is often grotesque, but so is the bipartisan consensus—and the wars it has started and sustained since Woodward began his journalistic career. So it is unsurprising that some of the sentiments Trump voices in Fear carry a kind of bracing, from-the-mouth-of-idiots clarity. “I’m tired of hearing that we have to do this or that to protect our homeland or to ensure our national security,” Trump whines at one point. And on the legacy of George W. Bush—a President whom Woodward took so seriously he devoted thousands of pages to him—Trump speaks with an even-a-broken-clock-is-right-once-a-day frankness: “A terrible President. He was a warmonger. He wanted to exert American influence and take democracy all throughout the world and wanted to be the world’s policeman and started all these wars.” On this point, he is not wrong. But this is the reason, more than any other, why Woodward cannot take him seriously.


So is Woodward an "asset"? Does he stay in touch with his Navy-mil-intel buddies? Or is it just the cut of his jib? What are his true loyalties?
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby 82_28 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:08 am

Dude, it's a pile on. Dump don't get no exonerated because of the litany of books from curious characters of dubious distinction. This is just another shot across the bow. I won't read it nor will I the other books that exist. I know enough, but like The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, it is interesting to hear about how fucking insane these authoritarians are. This will only be added to the library of what this piece of filth winds up accumulating. If there is disinfo involved, fuck it. Guy needs to be gone simply on principle.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Karmamatterz » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:52 am

For all we know this book, like others could be an entirely different ploy in a longterm propaganda scheme.

This about Woodward's early career:

Following his discharge from the Navy, Woodward landed a reporting position at the Montgomery County Sentinel in Maryland. He left the newspaper the following year for a position at The Washington Post. The transition would soon prove to be a wise career move for the young journalist.


Almost no young reporters go from working for a tiny newspaper like the County Sentinel to Wapo. It's unheard of. Looks more like his job that was a simple cover to make it look like he actually was getting his chops honed and learning the ropes like a cub reporter so the jump to Wapo wasn't as suspicious. Very very few reporters are able to make that leap from no name rag to Wapo, NYT etc...without significant experience and talent. So what was his significant experience? Naval Intelligence.

I don't trust a damn thing Woodward writes. His pedigree reeks of deep state. Why should this latest book be taken seriously? Because it's about Trump? Anything related to being critical of Trump has turned into dog whistle material for a feeding frenzy of click bait pageviews, book sales and agenda driven storylines.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:20 am

82_28 » Thu Sep 13, 2018 5:08 am wrote:Dude, it's a pile on. Dump don't get no exonerated because of the litany of books from curious characters of dubious distinction.


Why would I ever think that? Does anything about Blanchard's article suggest he thinks that? The central point regarding the book's coverage of the present regime is that Woodward is exonerating everyone in it other than Trump and everything it does other than the cosmetic appearance of attempted deescalation regarding Russia and North Korea (for now). This is a preemptive normalization of the GOP-radical billionaire government that will continue to smash and grab and plunder and burn even if Trump is removed, which of course he should be. Also, this book is a noisy and unscrupulous contrast to Wolff's.

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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:50 pm

JackRiddler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:20 am wrote:Also, this book is a noisy and unscrupulous contrast to Wolff's.

.


Or, say, Craig Unger's. There are actual journalists out here publishing books.

Woodward is both hack and asset, but most of all, Woodward is part of the founding mythology of American journalism: The Birth Of Objectivity, a miracle which transpired at the Washington Post during the early 1970's. The man is a central actor of MOCKINGBIRD's greatest coup, the Hollywood story of redemption that shaped the worldview of a fuckwit generation.

Personally, though, my animus is driven by Bob's cheap, vulgar treatment of Belushi and his circle. I'm petty like that.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Elvis » Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:19 pm

Karmamatterz wrote:Almost no young reporters go from working for a tiny newspaper like the County Sentinel to Wapo. It's unheard of. Looks more like his job that was a simple cover to make it look like he actually was getting his chops honed and learning the ropes like a cub reporter so the jump to Wapo wasn't as suspicious.


It's pretty well established that Woodward left the Navy and went straight to the Post and asked for a job. Bradlee or someone told him to go get some reporting experience at a small paper and then come back and see about a job.

I have to wonder, What did spooky Bradlee know about Woodward and when did he know it?
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:44 pm

.

Another knockdown, and Matsui is obviously aware of the Woodward back-story.

- www.counterpunch.org - https://www.counterpunch.org -

The Crazy Train Underground

By Jennifer Matsui

September 13, 2018 @ 2:02 am

Notice how all these anonymous sources coming out of the White House woodwork to save America from Trump only hide papers and steal documents from his desk that would tempt him to do something actually useful. The fear that he might eliminate or even reduce military bases overseas and/or overturn NAFTA has united the Resistance’s so-called left and right wing to ensure that the business of Empire remains impervious to the whims of the toddler Emperor.

When Dear Dotard wants to gut funding to the EPA, or withhold funds earmarked for the Palestinian territories, those brave members of the Crazy Train Underground are nowhere to be found. Funny how they can be relied upon to place his crayon ‘X’ on just about anything else that ensures further financial and environmental collapse.

When you’ve got Mike Pence aka ‘Deep Closet’ poised to replace Harriet Tubman on a future postage stamp as leader of a stealth, internal movement to restore the guiding neocon principles of foreign policy, it’s time to vacate this dying ‘Lodestar’ and move to a black hole in Deep Space. At least there, no one can hear you question the legitimacy of a rogue, shadow administration plotting to overthrow the president at the behest of rival right wing coup plotters in cahoots with a media outlet mostly devoted to chronicling elite wedding planning.

Thanks to the efficacy of the pneumatic tubes that suck one time power-serving factoids down a memory hole – think stenographer Judith Miller making the case for the existence of Iraq’s WMD program provided to her by “unnamed” sources – we can now be convinced of the existence of a similarly “unnamed” source conveniently placed in the newsroom of the New York Times where he or she is employed as a phantom member of the Trump administration. This phantom has been unleashed to strike back at the Menace threatening the Empire. Once again, a Force awakens to stave off an attack of the Clowns.

Curious, too, how the liberal establishment brings out its longest and sharpest knives when wasteful military expenditure is jeopardized, or when a ruinous trade agreement is challenged. That’s when Twittler becomes an enemy of the Deep Swamp and a threat to be neutralized. The rest of his erratic and destructive agenda is just background noise. Eventually, we all get used to the sound of caged children rattling their chains, and the cries of orphaned grizzly cubs in Yellowstone Park. We will not tolerate, however, any deviancy from the Imperial playbook of endless war and spiraling military spending. This is where the proverbial buck stops and the next Woodward-led coup d’etat commences.

Trump’s alleged statements questioning the costs involved with maintaining military bases and personnel on the Korean peninsula is presented as evidence of a dangerous and “unhinged” mind – as if the presence of US troops in this particular region is the default position of sanity. Some would argue (quite illogically and treasonously) that US bases are a force of regional de-stabilization and a primary justification for organizations and individuals seeking to violently challenge American hegemony in their rice paddies, deserts and shopping malls.

Bob Woodward, one time bag man for a disgruntled, high ranking FBI official and Honorary Purse Holder for Power has been dispatched again to light the fuse that will ignite yet another palace-based coup. This time against an appointed puppet president with funny ideas about making adjustments to the military/industrial complex.

Granted, Trump is no anti-Imperialist crusader as some of his more libertarian, Kremlin-backed supporters might suggest. His concern with wasteful spending is no different from the former ‘Apprentice’ host berating a Playboy bunny contestant for failing a fiscal challenge.

Let’s resist, however, the temptation to consider the squealing rats quoted in Woodward’s upcoming book, and still aboard the sinking SS Trumptanic a force of “resistance”. Let’s just call them what they are: A skin-saving brigade of opportunists fighting for life jackets before abandoning a diarrhea-filled Carnival Cruise Liner. I’d think twice before cheering on a crew of embedded “journalists” in an aircraft carrier, coming to rescue us all. The outcome of this militarized media-based operation simply means trading passage from one dying vessel to another fatally listing behemoth named after John McCain and headed for his final destination.

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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:53 pm

lobelog.com

Deconstructing Woodward

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

SEPTEMBER 12, 2018

The blockbuster New York Times anonymous article on staff resistance at the White House coincided with the release of Bob Woodward’s most recent book, both of them leveling similar allegations against the Trump administration. Woodward, an associate editor of the Washington Post called the anonymous op-ed sub-standard and undeserving of publication. Susan Glasser of The New Yorker, however, has aptly written, “It was as if one of Woodward’s sources had chosen to publish a real-time epilogue in the pages of the Times.”

Indeed, the op-ed and the book both hammer home nearly identical points about Trump’s need for adult supervision, his penchant to do things at the spur of the moment, without being “derailed by forethought,” his dangerous and impulsive inclinations, and so on. In other words, the op-ed confirms the book’s central thesis about a chaotic White House led by an ignorant and impetuous president, although Woodward steers clear of ascribing “amorality” to Trump as the op-ed’s anonymous author has done. What is more, both heap praise on Trump on the policy side while questioning his personal style of presidency. But there is a more organic connection between the book and the op-ed.

Although it focuses on the debates and decision-making in Trump’s White House, Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House devotes the first 50 pages to the familiar story of Trump’s campaign and the crucial role played by Steve Bannon as well as his big donors. Conspicuously absent however, is any reference to two of Trump’s biggest donors, namely, Sheldon Adelson and Bernard Marcus, who are also the board members of the Likudist Republican Jewish Committee.

In fact, such omissions can be found aplenty in the book. For example, there is no mention of the Israel lobby’s efforts to influence Trump on the Iran nuclear deal or of the role of far-right John Bolton, who assumed the position of national security advisor in March 2018 while Woodward’s book was still in progress. Similarly, Woodward ignores the fact that Trump fired his initial secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, partly because of the latter’s support for the Iran nuclear deal. Incredibly, Woodward cites Trump’s statement on Tillerson’s firing while editing out the Iran reference. As a result, there is no discussion of why Trump replaced his national security advisor and secretary of state with more hawkish and virulently anti-Iran voices. Such gaps in explanation point to the author’s political agenda, which the media has seriously misrepresented as being anti-Trump.

On the contrary, Woodward’s book, while critical of aspects of Trump’s personality traits and their negative impact on decision-making, is on the whole a strong endorsement of the main contours of Trump’s presidency. This stance explains why Woodward is dismissive of the Steele dossier on Trump and unfairly criticizes former FBI director, James Comey for including it in the intelligence report to the president (Comey defended his choice by noting the FBI’s assessment that the sources in that dossier were “credible”). Similarly, Woodward devotes considerable attention to the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, yet does so by and large through the prism of Trump’s attorney, John Dowd, whose conclusions and interpretations Woodward often accepts at face value.

In fact, with respect to Trump himself, Woodward is not entirely negative. His book highlights Trump’s penchant for “crowdsourcing” before making any decision, his flexibility and pragmatism, and his willingness to modify his positions after being persuaded by better arguments, such as on NAFTA or NATO.

Meanwhile, the book’s opening big bang about an economic adviser’s claim to have removed the withdrawal order from a trade agreement with South Korea from Trump’s desk at the Oval Office does not withstand critical scrutiny. Whereas at first Woodward claims that this order, which Trump had not seen, had come from “unknown channels,” subsequently he revises himself: “At least twice, Porter had the order drafted as the president had directed. And at least twice Cohen or Porter took it from his desk.” Rob Porter was a staff secretary who resigned after allegations of sexual abuse by his ex-wives surfaced. The book is full of testimonials from Porter, suggesting that he was more influential than was probably the case. It’s an example of Woodward’s pattern of adopting witness accounts at face value. The possibility that some of these witnesses may have been less than candid in their recollection of events or may have bent the facts in order to shine in the book simply does not occur to the veteran investigative author.

Nor is Woodward ever troubled by the scarcity of information about any of the dozens of policy decisions and debates covered in his journalistic narrative. He simply ignores the possibility that the secret national security discussions on Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Yemen may have been different from the ones he cites in the book. Yet Woodward surely must know the limits of his fact-gathering endeavor.

Moreover, the book can hardly be said to be strictly objective. For instance, Woodward demonizes Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has been integrated in national politics and is an important arm of national defense against threats from neighboring Israel. In comparison, Woodward fails to utter a word of criticism of the corrupt and dictatorial Saudi leadership, which has been exporting its Wahhabi radicalism and bullying neighbors such as Qatar and Yemen with assistance from Western nations. Also, Woodward steers clear of Trump’s controversial decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, thanks in part to the efforts of his ardently pro-Israel son-in-law Jared Kushner. Woodward fails to ask why this inexperienced 37-year-old plays such an important role in shaping Trump’s foreign policies,

Woodward could have easily concluded his book with a series of policy recommendations, such as calling for an end to Trumpian nepotism. Yet he fails to do so. However, he targets the relatively pragmatic defense secretary James Mattis by attributing to him Trump-bashing remarks that Mattis has adamantly denied making. Mattis, who is against a U.S. war with Iran, is out of step with the White House warmongers, who see the Pentagon chief as an impediment to their hawkish agenda. Although Trump has defended Mattis against Woodward’s insinuations, the pressure to replace Mattis with another more hawkish defense secretary is still ongoing.

To his credit, Woodward admits that the administration’s Iran policy has left it without any major ally in the international arena. The likes of Mattis and Tillerson repeatedly defended the Iran nuclear deal to no avail, as the forces opposed to the normalization of relations with Iran prevailed. This development alone should have prompted Woodward to rethink his assessment of Trump’s flexibility, pragmatism, and willingness to change his positions. By no means anti-Trump, Bob Woodward has produced a book that, for all its gossipy tidbits, gives far more respectability to Trump’s program than it deserves.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi is a former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team and the author of several books on Iran’s foreign affairs, including Iran Nuclear Accord and the Remaking of the Middle East (with Nader Entessar).

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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby dada » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:07 pm

I'm sorry, Jack, but it's like you're doing free advertising for team Woodward, here.

I mean, don't think you can get away with playing the fool with me, I know where you went to high school. You know exactly the way this works. Just measure the column in inches, and all. dat Andy.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby dada » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:24 pm

Wombaticus Rex » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:50 pm wrote:Personally, though, my animus is driven by Bob's cheap, vulgar treatment of Belushi and his circle. I'm petty like that.


Agreeings. Total frame job. Nasty in the slimiest way possible, and to top it off, I think the motivation behind the hit piece was to send a message to other comedians. Don't be too funny, or this is what you'll get.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Grizzly » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:10 pm

Before there was asset Woodward, there was Seymour M. Hersh...(better known as Sy). All high dollar pressitutes.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby JackRiddler » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:59 am

That is an outrageous comparison.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby 82_28 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 1:08 am

No matter what anyone says about Woodward, you cannot, I do not think compare him to Hersh. Go for it, but no comparison. Same with the other people of this era and area, like say Jimmy Breslin. Now he sure would have had a book for the ages were he still with us.
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Re: Thread for destroying Woodward

Postby Karmamatterz » Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:55 am

A willing player is much different than one that is manipulated and fed false information to promote an agenda. Hersh, by most appearances would appear to be one of the few more genuine journalists out there.

Wombat's comment about the myth of objectivity was good. We are all prone to wishing and hoping for these expectations, objective journalism just one of many. Utopian dreams and expectations lead to massive disappointment.
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