Barack Obama

The Night Planet Liberalism Turned on Bob Woodward


The dream is over. |||

It has been a special night on Twitter for those of us who take a perverse interest in the way that ideologically aligned journalists and politicos will pack-attack critics of a sitting American president. Seems that Washington Post investigative-journalism legend Bob Woodward crossed a bridge too far when, in talking about reaction to his narrative-debunking Feb. 22 piece pinning the origination of the sequester directly on a White House that had vociferously denied paternity, has now gone on to dish on a "senior White House official" (later identified as White House Economic Council Director Gene Sperling) who "yelled at me for about a half hour" about the op-ed, and warned that "I think you will regret staking out that claim."

Sperling's "threat" (if you can call it that) ranks a bit low on the things-to-be-worried-about totem pole, and Woodward is hardly an infallible source (here's my 2006 column comparing him to Judith Miller), but the reaction tonight from the leftosphere has been something to behold. A sampling:

Josh Marshall, TPM:

Who goes birther first, Scalia or Woodward?

David Plouffe thinks you swing like Bob Woodward, Michael Jack! |||

David Plouffe, recently of the White House:

Watching Woodward last 2 days is like imagining my idol Mike Schmidt facing live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation:

Smart @thenation interns & young folks have no idea who Woodward is but dc establishment freaked about his critique of WH & sequester.

Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress:

My amateur advice: stop cooperating with Woodward in the first place.

Jason Linkins, Huffington Post:

I think Woodward will find people will stop yelling at him the very minute he decides to stop sucking so much at his job.

Dan Froomkin, Center for Accountability Journalism:

Telling egotist Woodward "I think you will regret staking out that claim" isn't a threat; it's just not realistic.

Matthew Yglesias, Slate:

Woodward's managed to make me suspect Nixon got a raw deal.

My February cover piece: "'The Truth' Hurts: How the fact-checking press gives the president a pass."

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  1. Smart @thenation interns & young folks have no idea who Woodward is

    BAHAHAHAHA. No wonder these fucking idiots are interning at the Nation. I recently graduated from college, so I’ve got the young folk thing going for me, and I’m pretty sure I’ve known who Bob Woodward is since I was about 14. If your ‘smart’ interns at a political magazine don’t know who Bob Woodward is, maybe you should reconsider who you generally think of as ‘smart.’

    1. Anybody interning at The Nation is pretty much guaranteed to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    2. “BAHAHAHAHA.”


      That’s all I can do, the hypocritical intrinsic paternalistic irony is just too much.


    3. It’s Katrina vanden Heuvel. What did you expect?

    4. Proglodyte’s ignorance of history is stunning.

      And they’re proud of it!

  2. I’m not social-tech savvy, so I’m not sure how to interpret all the comments, but:
    “Matthew Yglesias, Slate:
    Woodward’s managed to make me suspect Nixon got a raw deal.”
    Hey, Bob! somebody’s got your number, you sleazy lefty hypocrite!

    1. It’s Yglesias. He has no one’s number, other than Krispy Kreme and a mediocre beard trimmer’s.

    2. I’m not photo-savvy, but it looks to me from that Sports Illustrated cover that if Schmidt swings, he is going to decapitate the catcher.

      1. It does look that way but it’s the angle the photo was taken from.

  3. So, is it Journolist 2.0 or Journolist 3.0?

    1. 2.0.

      When Journalist 3.0 is up, they will have no more need of the false individual consciousness of their forebearers.

      We shall then know them as the Buggers.

      1. Huh, I thought they’d be the Rat Fuckers.

        1. That’s a serious insult to rats everywhere…

  4. “I think Woodward will find people will stop yelling at him the very minute he decides to stop sucking so much at his job.”

    That’s just bad writing. No wit or insight. The Huffington Post, I see.

  5. To all those who think that the Obama administration is brilliant at media control: Bush managed to get Woodward to toe the line on pre-war Iraq intelligence.

    The Obama administration is more about bullying than finesse.

    1. Obama’s terrible at media control, it’s just that the media wants to believe everything he says. If people will believe you no matter what, it doesn’t mean you’re good at control. It means they’re gullible.

      1. datz birtherism

      2. Obama is terrible at media control because he’s never been in a position to have to be in control.

        It’s like playing a video game in god mode all the time… the second you turn that off, you realize you suck at it.

        And given the list of Woodward’s hecklers, it seems pretty clear to me that he can still pretty much sit back and breathe easy. The DemOp (thanks RC) Media bots have sprung to his defense. Obama didn’t even have to get out of bed on this one. I don’t expect Woodward to last the night.

    2. I realize it’s not a popular view, but it is a correct one: Bush and company believed the Iraq intelligence.

      1. Can’t be. You had talk of taking out Saddam in November of 2001, shortly after America went into Afghanistan. Then you had a drum beat of vague affirmations about how Saddam is a danger throughout 2002. Then, you had “intelligence” appear in late 2002 and into 2003.

        At no time does it appear that foreign policy regarding Iraq was formulated as a response to intelligence. Instead, it appears that intelligence was cherry picked to support a pre-determined policy. The administration, through whatever means, found intelligence it liked and didn’t bother to really have it checked out.

        1. Uh, sorry, Iraq definitely had WMDs. Ask the the Kurds. Or the Iranians. Hell, there’s probably some paper floating around the Pentagon archives from the 80s when we facilitated the bastards getting them to neutralize the Iranian numerical superiority in that nasty war they fought. The whole “Iraq didn’t have any WMDs” meme is laughable on its face.

          Of course, it’s none of our business if they do. If the US went around invading every unstable country with WMDs, you’d basically end up with just us and the UK left with them. Yeah, I’m including France. Five Republics? Pshh.

          1. What WMDs did Iraq have in 2003? Why wasn’t any anthrax found? Or mobile weapons labs? Why didn’t the Iraq Survey Group find anything?

            Or, in other words, what the hell are you talking about?

            1. US forces actually did find leftover chemical weapons kept away from the inspectors. Not many but they were there.

            2. Right, because governments give up weapons once they get their hands on them. That nerve gas is buried in the desert somewhere. Probably never be found. Hopefully anyway. A country is a big place, and it’s not like we launched a sneak attack on Iraq. He knew we were coming. I figure they either went to Syria or are buried in a cave or a bunker somewhere.

              Look, the Iraq War was a big mistake, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any WMDs. Saddam Hussein had them, because we saw him use them in the 80s and in the 90s. I just really hate this thing where I’m supposed to repeat things that are obviously untrue because it’s easier. It’s easy to insist Iraq posed no threat at all, that the WMDs were made up, Bush lied, blah blah blah. But the truth is that Iraq, while a nasty little place with some nasty weapons, was not an imminent threat to the security of the United States. It’s a more nuanced argument, but it has the advantage of actually being true.

              1. Your argument is now, “I figure there were weapons. I have no evidence to draw my opinion from. We didn’t find any, and that challenges my assumptions, so I’ll assume they are hidden.”

                1. The whole thing is just dumb. Claiming that the Bush administration faked the intel or lied is stupid – the Russians were saying the same thing. The Clintons were saying the same thing. If it was all a Bush plot, these actors would never have corroborated their claims.

                  Iraq’s actions were dumb too. They claim they destroyed the WMD that they had, but hid it from the inspectors. Well, that’s pretty dumb. At the time the theory was that they wanted to retain a credible threat to their neighbors by pretending to still have WMD while complying with their cease-fire obligations. Still, dumb. They could have shaken off the sanctions in a couple of years by simply being overly-cooperative with the inspectors and complaining loudly at the UN. Instead they decided to play cat-and-mouse games. Silly stupid.

                  And then there is the Neocon plan to invade an arab country and install a democracy to destabilize the dictatorships in the region. This dates back to the early 90’s and was definitely the inspiration for the Iraq invasion.

                  There’s plenty of stupid to go around, most of it by governments, but claiming that they lied about the intelligence on Iraq still counts as stupid.

                  1. To be clear, I never said they lied about intelligence. I said they found intelligence that agreed with their pre-drawn conclusions and didn’t try to invalidate said intelligence.

                    1. just stop, bam. WMD existed unless you want to claim that the Kurds committed ritual suicide. Whether they were found in ’03 or not is immaterial. Do you really think that Saddam unilaterally got rid of them?

                      The entirety of the Clinton years was spent on one UN inspection after another. Lot of hiding places in Iraq, not to mention in Syria where no one looked. We knew weapons existed; with no evidence to show that they had either been destroyed or were all gone, it’s not hard to understand why one would believe intel that said those weapons were still in play.

                    2. Saddam did use chemical weapons against the Kurds in 1988. And? Why do you keep bringing it up? It’s in no way relevant to the 2003 invasion. Hell, between 1988 and 2003, we had already gone to war with Iraq.

                      The Iraq Survey Group concluded the opposite of what you’re pushing: Saddam destroyed his chemical weapons and ended his nuclear program in ’91, and abandoned its bioweapons program in ’95.

                      It also examined the much repeated assertion that WMD was shipped to Syria, concluding that it was unlikely.

                      Why are you so intent on pushing these falsehoods? Why is it so important to you that Iraq have WMD during the ’03 invasion?

                    3. Except, once again, they’re not falsehoods. You seriously think a vicious dictatorship got rid of its WMDs. I mean, that is a stunning amount of credulousness.

                      See, this is what I hate about libertarians on foreign policy. It’s the one time that people who on every other issue are very empirical start taking giant leaps to justify their stance.

                      I don’t know, I just hate the kite flying happy peacenik bullshit. Yes Saddam Hussein was a vicious thug, yes he had WMDs. Not nukes, but certainly lots of nerve gas. No that’s not something that threatens the US, no it’s not worth the money or the blood of Americans.

                    4. If they’re not falsehoods, what evidence do you have to support them? Your gut isn’t evidence.

                    5. That al-Janabi fellow, the Iraqi chemical engineer that defected, definitely lied, maybe to get a green card. One could probably describe the Bush admin’s response as, if not lying, as deliberately credulous. They found a witness willing to testify to their case and didn’t really care enough to scrutinize it.

                      It’s also likely that Iraqi officials exaggerated their own weapons capabilities to deter the Iranians from trying anything should they be perceived as week. In any case, having them in the 80s isn’t proof of having them in 2003. Corrupt generals may have pawned them, dterioration happens, etc. maybe they had WMDs, maybe they didn’t. But the US’s sources saying they did were largely dishonest (again, ‘curveball’ comes to mind again).

                    6. If they certainly existed, and we never found them, then [gasp] Iraq still has WMD! I guess we better spend another trillion dollars and get a few thousand more Americans killed looking for them. Or all you guys just little quislings?

                      Maybe if we soak the sand in our blood, the WMD will float to the top.

                2. You need to read more about the UN weapons inspection history. Before Kamel defected, the UN thought Iraq was clean on biological weapons. Then Kamel told them about hidden weapon plants, and suddenly Iraq Full & Final Complete Declarations started changing from “no bio weapons” slowly morphing to “yes, we weaponized Anthrax.”

                  So, they had managed to hide this program from inspectors until a super high ranking defection occurred. Think about that for a moment.

            3. Bam’s point is supported by notable whistle-blower Ret. Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski.

              This lady worked at the Pentagon and saw first hand how intelligence was cherry-picked and packaged to support the pre-drawn conclusion.

              After watching her speak, reading her columns, and meeting her in person, I’m inclined to beleive her.

          2. It’s clear to me in hindsight that Saddam was deliberately bluffing Bush. He didn’t have WMDs anymore but was acting to all the world like he did. Heck, it’s even possible Saddam believed it, but his underlings were lying to him about them.

            1. “Heck, it’s even possible Saddam believed it, but his underlings were lying to him about them.”

              The irony of this is almost too much to bear. Such a jack-hole dictator that his lackeys couldn’t tell him the unfavorable truth, so he believed a lie, proclaimed it to the world, and that ended with him being invaded, dug out of a spider hole after months of hiding, and hung.

            2. According to transcripts of meetings that took place before the invasion, Saddam didn’t believe he had WMD. He actually voiced his frustration with the weapon inspectors to his underlings and explicitly told them, in no uncertain terms, they didn’t have WMD.

            3. It likely wasn’t even Bush. He was probably bluffing Iran. He knew he could survive another war with them, so he wanted them to think he was well armed. In hindsight he likely thought he was between a rock and a hard place: how to appease the UN and the US without letting your neighbor/enemy know you’re full of shit and ripe for the picking.

        2. ” Instead, it appears that intelligence was cherry picked to support a pre-determined policy. The administration, through whatever means, found intelligence it liked and didn’t bother to really have it checked out”

          This does not preclude the possibility that they did in fact believe the intelligence, in fact it lends credence to it, basically they were blinded by confirmation bias and only considered intelligence that confirmed their preexisting biases. The question which can never be proven unless you were there in those meeting rooms (and maybe not even then) is whether they were cognizant of the fact that they were cherry picking the data to fit the bias

      2. Yes. And so did all the Democrats in Congress who had access to the same intelligence.

      3. So if instead of being mendacious, they were just wildly incompetent, does that make the Bush administration any better?

        1. No one is defending the Bush administration dude. No one is defending the invasion of Iraq.

          I simply assert that the vicious thug who used WMDs more times then anyone since WWI did not in fact beat his swords into ploughshares. I think they either went to Syria, or they’re buried somewhere in the country.

        2. Actually yes, significantly so

  6. MattY is really, really stupid. Everything he ever says is stupid. Yet much of what I used to hear about him was how smart he was.

    Explanation? Anyone? It wasn’t just from libs that I heard that. Dude seems wayyyyyyy over his head intellectually.

    1. He’s an utter idiot who has a pretentious beard, a pot belly and glasses. Liberals base their opinion of you entirely on whether you look smart. If you meet their guidelines for what smart looks like, they’ll claim you’re intelligent regardless of all evidence.

      1. Yes. Glasses and seriousface. Beard helps, as does being overweight. Sweaters are good, but not mandatory.

        1. especially if it’s a cardigan sweater. and bowties. bowties are superduper smart.

          1. If it appears so, it is so.

    2. Every now and then he’ll write about how licensing laws hurt the poor, and I think he might have some value.

      Then I’ll read something else of his and be astonished anyone could write something so astonishingly wrong.

      1. I’m astonished I used astonish twice. Astonishing!

      2. He wrote a few pieces against price-gouging laws in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Those were good.

    3. Most people think smart means ‘agrees with me and uses confusing words.’

      Paul Krugman is smart but doesn’t apply himself. Gary Johnson and I would agree in more things but I can admit he isn’t as smart as Krugman (again, very smart people can say very stupid things, and even stupid people can stumble on correct opinions).

      Yglesias, on the other hand, is just plain dumb. Noah Smith has his good moments, but Yglesias? He’s just Robert Reich in training.

  7. But Woodward has always been a symbol of the pro-civil liberties left! Hollywood sed they were avant garde and hip!

    What’s that? Oh I see…

    We have always been at war with Woodward.

    1. Was he Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman? I forget.

    2. We have always been at war with Woodward.


  8. And can we please stop calling them liberals, for the love of liberty!

    1. This

      There’s nothing liberal about the modern left. Call them what they are: progressives, socialists and fascists.

      1. Meh, they aren’t for progress, either.

      2. Yeah, we should really take the ‘neoliberal’ label they throw at us and run with it to reclaim the word ‘liberal.’

        they should be called leftists or social democrats. And we can then say things like ‘I’m a liberal, but in the European sense of the word.’

  9. does anybody remember how they treated hitchens after he dared to come out hawkish against islamists. hitchens, to his credit (the man was a jewel) didn’t whine about it, but the anecdotes etc. were pretty telling. he became persona non grata amongst the very people he hobnobbed with for years at the nation.

    he was no longer invited to the same parties and was given the total snub by people – all because he dared upset the narrative.

    to a lesser extent, dennis miller experienced much of the same.

    politics is a religion for these people. and they have a very true-believer self-righteous indignation towards heretics. and there is no worse heretic than the apostate – the ONCE member of the group who turns rogue and no longer plays along.

    i actually like reading the nation. have for years. it offers great insight into how others think and imo is generally well written

    but jesus fucking christ, these progressives are cultish and hivemindish when it comes to attacking the apostate.

    1. When Amity Shlaes wrote an article in the mid-90’s about how many black people in New York City are prejudiced against white people, colleagues she’d worked with for years wouldn’t ride in an elevator with her.

      The media uses thug tactics to force people to toe the party line. They are utter scum.

      1. I had not heard that story, but it sounds like a perfect example of the kind of media hivemind ugliness we are criticizing. Come to think of it, it sounds vaguely familiar. Maybe Bernie Goldberg mentioned it in one of his books? They offer a great account of how the media work against the heterodox to put them in their place for daring not to toe that line.

        1. Bias? I know Bias touches on stuff like that, and it was actually released in 2001, so it would have been relatively contemporary.

          I actually heard about it when she was being interviewed about Coolidge. What’s hilarious about something like this is that there was nothing actually racist about it. Saying that racism is becoming a problem in a community is not racist unless you claim every member of that group holds racist beliefs.

          Otherwise liberals would be staggeringly racist due to what they’ve been saying about white southerners for the last 50 years.

      2. When Amity Shlaes wrote an article in the mid-90’s about how many black people in New York City are prejudiced against white people, colleagues she’d worked with for years wouldn’t ride in an elevator with her.

        Shun and abjure the heretic, lest ye be corrupted.

        1. Seems like a great way to not be crowded in an elevator. Plus, the people shunning you are assholes, so bonus all around.

          1. bonus points if they also smell bad…which as I understand it most of those lefty pukes do..

        2. They are contaminated by dirty ideas.

          Who says liberals have a low sensitivity for disgust again?

    2. “the man was a jewel”

      That sounds like less of a compliment in Yiddish.

  10. I think Woodward will find people will stop yelling at him the very minute he decides to stop sucking so much at his job.

    His job being to repeat whatever a Democrat says as fact and/or finding dirt on Republicans.

    1. That is the job description of a modern “journalist”.

  11. Being a lefty public intellectual must be a terrifying thing. You never know what’s going to count as heresy and cause the rest of the flock to fall in and peck you to death. Safer just to parrot everything the Administration says and join whatever Two Minutes Hate is trending on Twitter that day.

  12. Journalists get to feel important by proxy. Their proximity to the “elite” in DC for example, their “access” is hugely ego boosting. PJ ORourke has written a lot on this.

    Imagine how Woodward must feel, having been played by a famous (and handsome) Hollywood actor – the persona became MUCH bigger than the person. It’s got to be disheartening to such a GREAT MAN (hey, he has a movie about him! And he has ACCESS), to be so shunned by his progressive and “liberal” fellow travelers.

  13. Yglesias is one stupid mofo.

    1. And yet his comment is the most useful… and telling*

      *In a way Yglesias didn’t intend.

  14. Let’s step back a second. What’s wrong with Obama not sending warships to the Persian Gulf because of looming military budget cuts? Even if that is just a meager excuse, I think the onus is on Woodward and critics to prove that there is some definitive national security reason to do so and not just because it happened to be on the schedule.

    1. yeah there is no risk…

      but this is all about Obama shifting blame onto republicans.

      Something bad will happen in the middle east/Persian Gulf and now Obama can blame the republicans and their “not as big of a budget increase as Obama wanted” sequestration.

      This is no different then in a few months Obama will blame the republicans and the sequestration for the recession we are already in.

      1. By the way:

        Something bad will happen in the middle east/Persian Gulf because something bad always happens in the middle east/Persian Gulf regardless of whether or not we have proper military funding.

      2. I’ve been inadvertently watching CNN the last few days (it’s been on at the gym) and I have yet to see anyone mention that there are no cuts, just reduced increases. And they have people from “the right” on the panels.

        Is there some kind of conspiracy that these must only be treated as massive cuts?

        By the way, I still am waiting for someone to explain how only getting a little bit more this year than last will lead to 750,000 people losing their jobs. If everyone just would get the same salary as last year, then there should be no layoffs at all?

        1. Overall spending is not being cut, discretionary spending is. But that’s only because entitlement spending is growing faster than discretionary spending is getting cut.

    2. Damn it if that ship doesn’t sail, then the TERRORISTS WILL WIN!

      Why do you hate freedom and America and also freedom?

    3. The thing is that Obama seems to be deliberately applying the cuts in a way that maximizes the impact of them. So he can then blame the harm on Republicans.

      I don’t really think this particular cut is a case of that. But you could definitely construct a counter-narrative that says Obama’s deliberately manipulating the cuts in ways that damage national security so he can then pin the blame on Republicans.

      With respect to airport security, personally, I think he’s targetting the cuts at the number of screeners on purpose, because he thinks that that will be an effective pressure point. He figures long lines and pissed off travellers with blame Republicans.

      You know, he could issue an executive order right now saying we no longer have to take off our shoes and that would cut the lines by 30% immediately.

  15. Was reasonable fucking up for any of you?

    1. Seems okay to me…

      1. I was getting double alt text.. it stop now

  16. Woodward made a career of challenging a powerful President when it was fashionable to do so. We see now that it wasn’t the challenge, but the President, that was important to the journalistic establishment. Nothing new, really.

    1. But it’s still news, because we see that the journalistic establishment is more and more a cynical party organ.

      1. Precisely.
        They’re only okay with challenging power, when it’s Republicans who have it.

  17. “No bootlickers here! Just a fierce and independent media, steeped in the old ways of yellow toadying.”

  18. Woodward is a modern day Juan Williams!

    1. You laugh, but if you read the transcript of the CNN interview witg Wooodward, he comes off as giving the Prez the benefit of many doubts, basically hoping that this kind of intimidation isn’t an admin “strategy”, just a “tactic” that someone used but the Prez would never have approved of. Maybe he’s just trying to be polite to get a better response or maybe he’s trying to lick-shine the big boots that matter.

  19. Woodward’s claims completely misrepresent reality. And it’s not the first time he’s hitched his credibility to Republican talking points.

    1. It’s Thursday.

    2. Your trolling has been weak lately. This comment isn’t up to your usual standards. Is something wrong?

  20. Please keep it up Planet Liberal.
    Behavior like this is one of the reasons so many people hate you.

    If you’re going to exile anyone that doesn’t toe the line, eventually, you will run out of people to exile. And you’ll be a nice, pure, die-hard, marginalized, minority.

    Again, please continue.

  21. Here’s Greenwald’s take:…..-sequester

    1. As the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein documented: “even if we implement every single cut in the sequester, the fall in spending would be less than the military experienced after Korea, Vietnam, or the Cold War.” Given the massive explosion of military spending in the name of the War on Terror over the last decade (which Klein notes was “larger than the rise during Vietnam and during the Cold War”), the sequestration-mandated cuts would be but a very small step in returning to a sane level of military spending.

      And here we get to the crux of the matter. Faced with a stagnant economy, failed fiscal stimulus, and a moribund housing market still not rcovered from its popped bubble, the Keynesians in charge attempt to blow a military spending bubble in a vain effort to prop up GDP. Which bubble will pop first? The higher education bubble, or the military spending bubble?

  22. One has to wonder if this will be enough to get Bob to start poking around and asking questions about Benghazi? Imagine if the man who brought down Nixon somehow was instrumental in bringing down Obama. It certainly would be apropos? but I’m not holding my breath.

  23. Benghazi ? 5 months later the degree of the media’s dereliction of duty becomes clear?…..edias.html

  24. One has to wonder if this will be enough to get Bob to start poking around and asking questions about Benghazi? Imagine if the man who brought down Nixon somehow was instrumental in bringing down Obama. It certainly would be apropos? but I’m not holding my breath.

    Benghazi ? 5 months later the degree of the media’s dereliction of duty becomes clear?…..edias.html

  25. Woodward’s characterization of Sperling’s comment as a threat makes no sense. If you want to control what a journalist publishes you threaten him BEFORE he publishes. If you want to make an example of a journalist (to cow other journalists into toeing the line) after he publishes something you do it PUBLICLY, not in a private email.

    1. It makes no sense if you interpret Woodward to be complaining that he was bullied. It makes perfect sense if you interpret Woodward to be sharing an anecdote about how this White House has gone off the deep end.

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