Bob Woodward
File:Bob Woodward.jpg
Bob Woodward (Jim Wallace, 2002)
Born Robert Upshur Woodward
(1943-03-26) March 26, 1943 (age 78)
Geneva, Illinois, U.S.
Education Yale University, B.A., 1965
Occupation Journalist
Notable credit(s) The Washington Post
Spouse(s) Elsa Walsh
Children Two daughters: Tali (age 35) and Diana (age 16).
Relatives Has one granddaughter named Zadie.

Robert Upshur "Bob" Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is an American investigative journalist and non-fiction author. He has worked for The Washington Post since 1971 as a reporter, and is currently an associate editor of the Post.

While a young reporter for The Washington Post in 1972, Woodward was teamed up with Carl Bernstein; the two did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal. These scandals led to numerous government investigations and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon. Gene Roberts, the former executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and former managing editor of The New York Times, has called the work of Woodward and Bernstein "maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time."[1]

Woodward continued to work for The Washington Post after his reporting on Watergate. He has since written over a dozen books on American politics, most of which have topped bestsellers lists.

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

Woodward was born in Geneva, Illinois, the son of Jane (née Upshur) and Alfred Enos Woodward II, Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court. He was a resident of Wheaton, Illinois. He enrolled in Yale University with an NROTC scholarship, and studied history and English literature. While at Yale, Woodward joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.[2] He received his B.A. degree in 1965, and began a five-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. After being discharged as a lieutenant in August, 1970, Woodward considered attending law school but applied for a job as a reporter for The Washington Post, while taking graduate courses at The George Washington University. Harry M. Rosenfeld, the Post's metropolitan editor, gave him a two-week trial but did not hire him because of his lack of journalistic experience. After a year at the Montgomery Sentinel, a weekly newspaper in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, Woodward was hired as a Post reporter in September, 1971.[citation needed]

Woodward has authored or coauthored 16 non-fiction books in the last 35 years. All 16 have been national bestsellers and 12 of them have been #1 national non-fiction bestsellers – more #1 national non-fiction bestsellers than any contemporary author. He has written multiple #1 national non-fiction bestsellers on a wide range of subjects in each of the four decades he has been active as an author, from 1974 to 2009.

In his 1995 memoir A Good Life, former executive editor of the Post Ben Bradlee singled out Woodward in the foreword. "It would be hard to overestimate the contributions to my newspaper and to my time as editor of that extraordinary reporter, Bob Woodward – surely the best of his generation at investigative reporting, the best I've ever seen. ... And Woodward has maintained the same position on top of journalism's ladder ever since Watergate."[3]

David Gergen, who had worked in the White House during the Richard Nixon and three subsequent administrations said in his 2000 memoir Eyewitness to Power, of Woodward's reporting, "I don't accept everything he writes as gospel – he can get details wrong – but generally, his accounts in both his books and in the Post are remarkably reliable and demand serious attention. I am convinced he writes only what he believes to be true or has been reliably told to be true. And he is certainly a force for keeping the government honest."[4]

Career recognition and awards[edit | edit source]

Woodward made crucial contributions to two Pulitzer Prizes won by The Washington Post. First he and Bernstein were the lead reporters on Watergate and the Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1973.[5]

Woodward also was the main reporter for the Post's coverage of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Ten stories won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting[6] – "six carrying the familiar byline of Bob Woodward," noted the New York Times article announcing the awards.[7]

He has been a recipient of nearly every other major American journalism award, including the Heywood Broun award (1972), Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Reporting (1972 and 1986), Sigma Delta Chi Award (1973), George Polk Award (1972), William Allen White Medal (2000), and the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Reporting on the Presidency (2002).

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard called Woodward "the best pure reporter of his generation, perhaps ever."[8] In 2003, Albert Hunt of The Wall Street Journal called Woodward "the most celebrated journalist of our age." In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said, "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."[9]

Career[edit | edit source]

Watergate[edit | edit source]

Main article: Watergate scandal

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were assigned to report on the June 17, 1972 burglary of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in a Washington, D.C. office building called Watergate. Their work, under editor Benjamin C. Bradlee, became known for being the first to report on a number of political "dirty tricks" used by the Nixon re-election committee during his campaign for reelection. Their book about the scandal, All the President's Men, became a #1 best-seller and was later turned into a movie. The 1976 film, starring Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein, transformed the reporters into celebrities and inspired a wave of interest in investigative journalism.

The book and movie also led to one of Washington, D.C.'s most famous mysteries: the identity of Woodward's secret Watergate informant known as Deep Throat, a reference to the title of a popular pornographic movie at the time. Woodward said he would protect Deep Throat's identity until the man died or allowed his name to be revealed. For over 30 years, only Woodward, Bernstein, and a handful of others knew the informant's identity until it was claimed by his family to Vanity Fair magazine to be former Federal Bureau of Investigation Associate Director W. Mark Felt in May 2005. Woodward has confirmed this claim and published a book, titled The Secret Man, which detailed his relationship with Felt.

Woodward and Bernstein followed up with a second successful book on Watergate, entitled The Final Days (Simon and Schuster 1976), covering in extensive depth the period from November 1973 until President Nixon resigned in August 1974.

The Woodward and Bernstein Watergate Papers are housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

George W. Bush administration[edit | edit source]

Woodward spent more time than any other journalist with former President George W. Bush, interviewing him six times for close to eleven hours total.[10] Woodward's four books, Bush at War (2002), Plan of Attack (2004), State of Denial (2006), and The War Within: A Secret White House History (2006–2008) (2008) are detailed accounts of the Bush presidency, including the response to the September 11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a series of articles published in January 2002, he and Dan Balz described the events at Camp David in the aftermath of September 11 and discussed the Worldwide Attack Matrix.

Woodward believed the Bush Administration's claims of Iraqi WMDs prior to the war. During an appearance on Larry King Live, he was asked by a telephone caller "Suppose we go to war and go into Iraq and there are no weapons of mass destruction," Woodward responded "I think the chance of that happening is about zero. There's just too much there."[11]

On February 1, 2008, as a part of the Authors @ Google series, Woodward, who was interviewed by Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt, said that he had a fourth book in his Bush at War series in the making. He then added jokingly that his wife told him that she would kill him if he decides to write a fifth in the series.[12]

Involvement in the Plame scandal[edit | edit source]

Main article: Plame affair

On November 14, 2005, Woodward gave a two-hour deposition to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. He testified that a senior administration official told him in June 2003 that Iraq war critic Joe Wilson’s wife (later identified as Valerie Plame), worked for the CIA. Woodward appears to have been the first reporter to learn about her employment (albeit not her name) from a government source. The deposition was reported in The Washington Post on November 16, 2005, and was the first time Woodward revealed publicly that he had any special knowledge about the case. Woodward testified the information was given to him in a “casual” and “offhand” manner, and said that he does not believe it was part of any coordinated effort to “out” Plame as a CIA employee.[13] Later, Woodward's source identified himself. It was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy and an internal critic of the Iraq War and the White House inner circle.

Woodward said the revelation came at the end of a long, confidential background interview for his 2004 book Plan of Attack. He did not reveal the official’s disclosure at the time because it did not strike him as important. Later, he kept it to himself because it came as part of a confidential conversation with a source.

In his deposition, Woodward also said that he had conversations with Scooter Libby after the June 2003 conversation with his confidential Administration source, and testified that it is possible that he might have asked Libby further questions about Joe Wilson’s wife before her employment at the CIA and her identity were publicly known.

Woodward apologized to Leonard Downie, Jr., the editor of The Washington Post for not informing him earlier of the June 2003 conversation. Downie accepted the apology and said even had the paper known it would not have changed its reporting.

New York University Professor Jay Rosen severely criticized Woodward for allegedly being co-opted by the Bush White House and also for not telling the truth about his role in the Plame affair, writing: "Not only is Woodward not in the hunt, but he is slowly turning into the hunted. Part of what remains to be uncovered is how Woodward was played by the Bush team, and what they thought they were doing by leaking to him, as well as what he did with the dubious information he got."[14]

Other professional activities[edit | edit source]

Woodward has continued to write books and report stories for The Washington Post, and serves as an associate editor at the paper. He focuses on the presidency, intelligence, and Washington institutions such as the U.S. Supreme Court, The Pentagon, and the Federal Reserve. He also wrote the book Wired, about the Hollywood drug culture and the death of comic John Belushi.

Criticism[edit | edit source]

Criticisms of style[edit | edit source]

Woodward often uses unnamed sources in his reporting for the Post and in his books. Using extensive interviews with firsthand witnesses, documents, meeting notes, diaries, calendars and other documentation, Woodward attempts to construct a seamless narrative of events, most often told through the eyes of the key participants.

Nicholas von Hoffman has made the criticism that "arrestingly irrelevant detail is [often] used,"[15] while Michael Massing believes Woodward's books are "filled with long, at times tedious passages with no evident direction."[16] Christopher Hitchens of dismissed him as a "stenographer to the stars."[17]

Joan Didion has leveled the most comprehensive criticism of Woodward, in a lengthy September 1996 essay in The New York Review of Books.[18] Though "Woodward is a widely trusted reporter, even an American icon," she says that he assembles reams of often irrelevant detail, fails to draw conclusions, and make judgments. "Measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent" from his books after Watergate from 1979 to 1996, she said. She said the books are notable for "a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured." She ridicules "fairness" as "a familiar newsroom piety, the excuse in practice for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking." All this focus on what people said and thought – their "decent intentions" – circumscribes "possible discussion or speculation," resulting in what she called "political pornography."

The Post's Richard Harwood defended Woodward in a September 6, 1996 column, arguing that Woodward's method is that of a reporter – "talking to people you write about, checking and cross-checking their versions of contemporary history," and collecting documentary evidence in notes, letters and records."[19]

Criticisms of content[edit | edit source]

  • Woodward has been accused of exaggeration and fabrication, most notably regarding "Deep Throat", his famous Watergate informant. Even since W. Mark Felt was announced as the true identity behind Deep Throat, John Dean[20] and Ed Gray,[21] in separate publications, have used Woodward's book All The President's Men and his published notes on his meetings with Deep Throat to show that Deep Throat could not have been only Mark Felt. They argued that Deep Throat was a fictional composite made up of several Woodward sources, only one of whom was Felt. Gray, in his book In Nixon's Web, even goes so far as to publish an e-mail and telephone exchange he had with Donald Santarelli, a Washington lawyer who was a justice department official during Watergate, in which Santarelli confirmed to Gray that he was the source behind statements Woodward recorded in notes he has attributed to Deep Throat.[22]
  • J. Bradford DeLong has noticed strong inconsistencies between the accounts of the making of Clinton economic policy described both in Woodward's book Maestro and his book The Agenda.[23]
  • Some of Woodward's critics accuse him of abandoning critical inquiry to maintain his access to high-profile political actors. Anthony Lewis called the style "a trade in which the great grant access in return for glory."[24] Christopher Hitchens accused Woodward of acting as "stenographer to the rich and powerful."[25]
  • Woodward believed the Bush Administration's claims of Iraqi WMDs prior to the war, and the publication of the book At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA by former DCI George Tenet led Woodward to engage in a rather tortuous account of the extent of his pre-war conversations with Tenet in an article in The New Yorker Magazine in which he also chastised New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd for being critical of him.[26]
  • Woodward was also accused of fabricating his deathbed interview with CIA Director William Casey, as described in Veil; critics say the interview simply could not have taken place as written in the book.[27][28][29][30] Following Casey's death, President Ronald Reagan wrote: "[Woodward]'s a liar and he lied about what Casey is supposed to have thought of me."[31]

Commentator David Frum has said, perhaps partly tongue-in-cheek, that Washington officials can learn something about the way Washington works from Woodward's books: "From his books, you can draw a composite profile of the powerful Washington player. That person is highly circumspect, highly risk averse, eschews new ideas, flatters his colleagues to their face (while trashing them to Woodward behind their backs), and is always careful to avoid career-threatening confrontation. We all admire heroes, but Woodward's books teach us that those who rise to leadership are precisely those who take care to abjure heroism for themselves."[32]

Despite these criticisms and challenges, Woodward has been praised as an authoritative and balanced journalist. The New York Times Book Review said in 2004 that "No reporter has more talent for getting Washington’s inside story and telling it cogently."[33]

Lecture circuit[edit | edit source]

Bob Woodward regularly gives speeches to industry lobbying groups, such as the American Bankruptcy Institute, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the Mortgage Bankers Association.[34] Woodward commands speaking fees "rang[ing] from $15,000 to $60,000" and donates them to his personal foundation, the Woodward Walsh Foundation, which donates to charities including Sidwell Friends School.[35] Washington Post policy prohibits "speaking engagements without permission from department heads" but Woodward insists that the policy is "fuzzy and ambiguous".[36]

Personal[edit | edit source]

Woodward now lives in the Georgetown section of Washington. He is married to Elsa Walsh, a writer for The New Yorker and the author of Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women. He has two daughters.

Woodward still maintains a listed number in the Washington, D.C. phone directory.[37] He says this is because he wants any potential news source to be able to reach him.

Books[edit | edit source]

Woodward has co-authored or authored twelve #1 national best-selling non-fiction books,[citation needed] They are:

Other books, which have also been best-sellers but not #1, are:

Newsweek has excerpted five of Woodward's books in cover stories; 60 Minutes has done segments on five; and three have been made into movies.

His latest book, "The Price of Politics," has gone on sale September 11, 2012. It shows how close President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were to defying Washington odds and establishing a spending framework that included both new revenues and major changes to long-sacred entitlement programs.[38]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Roy J. Harris, Jr., Pulitzer's Gold, 2007, p. 233, Columbia: University of Missouri Press, ISBN 978-0-8262-4.
  2. "Phi Gamma Delta – Famous Fijis – Education". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  3. Ben Bradlee, A Good Life, 1995, pp. 12-13, New York: Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-684-80894-3. See also pp. 324-384.
  4. David Gergen, Eyewitness to Power, 2000, p. 71, New York: Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-684-82663-1.
  5. James Thomas Flexner. "The Pulitzer Prizes | Awards". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  6. "The Pulitzer Prizes | Citation". 2010-03-03.,National+Reporting. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  7. Felicity Barringer, “Pulitzers Focus on Sept. 11, and The Times Wins 7”, The New York Times, April 9, 2002, p. A20., [1]
  8. Fred Barnes, “The White House at War,” The Weekly Standard, December 12, 9002, [2]
  9. Bob Schieffer, “The Best Reporter of All Time,” CBS News, April 18, 2004, [3]
  10. "The War Within" page 443
  11. "Interview with Bob Woodward". PBS Frontline. 2007-02-21. Retrieved 2008-09-16. 
  12. YouTube – Authors@Google: Bob Woodward
  13. "Testifying in the CIA Leak Case". November 16, 2005. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  14. Jay Rosen, "Murray Waas Is Our Woodward Now", PressThink (blog), April 9, 2006, accessed June 21, 2007
  15. Nicholas von Hoffman, “Unasked Questions,” The New York Review of Books, June 10, 1976, Vol. 23, Number 10.
  16. Michael Massing, “Sitting on Top of the News,” The New York Review of Books, June 27, 1991, Vol. 38, Number 12.
  17. Christopher Hitchens, “Bob Woodward: Stenographer to the Stars[dead link], undated
  18. Joan Didion, “The Deferential Spirit,” The New York Review of Books, September 19, 1996, Vol. 43, Number 14.
  19. Richard Harwood, “Deconstructing Bob Woodward,” The Washington Post, September 6, 1996, P.A23.
  20. "FindLaw's Writ – Dean: Why The Revelation of the Identity Of Deep Throat Has Only Created Another Mystery". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  23. "Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another New Republic Edition) – Grasping Reality with All Six Feet". 2006-10-01. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  24. Frum, David (2003-02-13). "On the West Wing – The New York Review of Books". Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  25. "Bob Woodward". Salon. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  26. Letter From Washington: Woodward vs. Tenet: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
  27. Roberts, Steven (October 1, 1987). "Reagan Sees 'Fiction' in Book on C.I.A. Chief". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  28. McManus, Doyle (October 11, 1987). "Casey and Woodward: Who Used Whom?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  29. Kinkaid, Cliff (June 3, 2005). "Was Mark Felt Really Deep Throat?". Accuracy In Media. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  30. Black, Conrad (April 21, 2011). "The Long History of Media Bias". National Review Online. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  31. Kurtz, Howard (May 2, 2007). "Ronald Reagan, In His Own Words". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  32. [4] Frum, David, "David Frum's Diary" blog, at the National Review Online Web site, October 5, 2006, 11:07 a.m. post "Blogging Woodward (4)", accessed same day
  33. Widmer, Ted (April 28, 2004). "'Plan of Attack': All the President's Mentors". The New York Times. Retrieved September 25, 2009. [dead link]
  34. Bob Woodward’s Moonlighting – By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine)
  35. David Broder’s and Bob Woodward’s Lame Alibis – By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine)
  36. Howell, Deborah (June 22, 2008). "When Speech Isn't Free". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 26, 2010. 
  38. Green, Miranda. "Speed Read: Juiciest Bits From Bob Woodward’s Book ‘Price of Politics’". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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