Woodward On Hannity–UPDATED

It was bad enough that Bob Woodward, once an esteemed reporter, told a falsehood about President Obama (which everyone but the right-wing now clearly sees was a falsehood). It was even worse that he then strongly implied that someone in the White House threatened him (which, now that we can see the email in question, we know was not true).

But Thursday night Woodward made it all completely intolerable by going on Sean Hannity’s show, once again. Hannity, a man who never misses an opportunity to slander President Obama, or pour gasoline on the fire of Obama-hate that rages throughout the wing-nut right, or feed the white-man angst so prevalent in our politics, was up to the task of sullying, just by being himself, the reputation of a once-proud reporter.

On Hannity’s show, Woodward continued his claim that he was a victim of an intimidation play, by a man, Gene Sperling, who by all accounts couldn’t intimidate Pee Wee Herman. But never mind. Woodward, now a fool, was very comfortable—smiling and laughing—in the presence of one of the most despicable personalities in the history of Milky Way broadcasting.

To give you an example of the kind of shtick Hannity gets paid to do every night, and to show why any journalist with Woodward’s reputation should avoid him at all costs, I give you this: Just before the first commercial break, Woodward sat and listened to Hannity tell viewers that Ann Coulter—humanity screeching across a chalkboard—was coming on the program to help him “expose the countless other examples of how the Obama White House has obstructed the freedom of the press for more than four long years.”

Then, Hannity told viewers that his feud with congressman Keith Ellison—the first Muslim elected to Congress—was still ongoing and that he was “going to investigate his radical background,” blah, blah, blah.

I waited with some anticipation, maybe hope, that when Hannity came back from the commercial break Woodward would tell him that his appearance on Hannity’s show was all a big mistake and that he did not know what he was thinking and that, yes, Sean Hannity was certifiably nuts.

Ah, but that didn’t happen. Woodward was all smiles when Hannity came back, especially after Hannity flattered him, telling the journalist, who had earlier noted his advancing age, that he didn’t look “a day over fifty.” How sweet. How perverse.

Woodward went on to equate Fox “News” and MSNBC (“a lot of people who support Obama who just believe he can do no wrong”), a notion that is as false as his claim that Gene Sperling threatened him. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, comparable to what Fox does every hour, every day, every week. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I get calls and emails from people telling me I’m insane to come on your show,” he told Hannity. Those weren’t just people, Bob. Those were your friends, who were trying to save you from yourself, from perhaps your advancing age. At one point, Woodward seemed to praise Hannity’s, uh, journalistic reflexes (“you dig into things”). Oh, my.

It’s one of those times where you had to see it to believe it: a man who has had a mostly sterling career in journalism laying his credibility, his integrity, on the altar of a man who makes a titmouse look like an intellectual giant.

It was sad is what it was.


UPDATE: On Friday’s Morning Joe, Woodward once again claimed that he did not say Sperling’s email contained a threat, that others interpreted it that way. He refused to admit that he in any way suggested or implied that he was threatened. He had nothing but good things to say about Gene Sperling.

Yet both CNN and Politico, after interviewing Woodward—before the actual email in question was released—reported Woodward’s comments as suggesting he was threatened. If you watch his appearance on CNN, you can see for yourself that he wanted everyone to draw the conclusion that an attempt was made by the White House to intimidate him, something he reiterated on Sean Hannity’s show.

Woodward also continued to defend the falsehood he has been promoting, that the deal in 2011, which produced the sequester, essentially took revenue increases off the table and that President Obama was “moving the goal posts” by insisting on those increases now. Yet on Morning Joe this morning, the only one who attempted to hold Woodward accountable for his false reporting was David Axelrod. Joe Scarborough and company were in defensive mode on behalf of Woodward. That is how tribal Washington works.

Now we know that Gene Sperling’s suggestion to Woodward, that he would regret his false reporting, was prophetic.



  1. “What’s sad is that there is an addictive quality to that, to believing your own hype; to allowing yourself to become validated by others and no longer by yourself. That’s the danger of celebrity.” – Giovanni Ribisi, American actor


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  March 1, 2013

    So, according to Duane, Bob Woodward is a “fool”.

    More polemics, anyone? Bob Woodward is one of the most astutue and apolitical newsmen that I have ever read or acutally met and followed, rather closely, over 25 years.

    Read again, my earlier retort saying that based on rather close attention over 25 years that I have found Woodward to ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH, as best as he can determine it to be based on more interviews, research and hard work on such matters than any of us come even close to doing, anytime on anything.

    Now go find another link calling Woodward a “fool” and I will pay as much attention to it as this blog!!

    I would also suggest you anti-GOPers in here go read earlier books by Woodward. You can line your bookshelves with all the “links” you like pointing out GOP mistakes in governing as well.



    • Your resistance to the Woodward discussion thus far rests solely on your stated opinion and nothing more. That’s fine as far as it goes, Anson, but it doesn’t go far. Duane has shown that Woodward is clearly being at least disingenuous about this latest dust-up. The released emails prove it, and it does call into question Woodward’s methodology, one that until now rested on his personal reputation as an un-taintable truth-teller.

      The criticisms now flying over this ought to cause everyone to take a new look at that methodology wherein his insights into meetings and opinions at which he personally was not present was nothing short of amazing. It was as though he had secret listening devices in all those places, but there’s no evidence of that, nor has he ever claimed so – it would be unbelievable, and in retrospect I think such descriptions have to be re-evaluated as more subjective than they first appeared.

      The good news here, I would say, is that nobody has caught Woodward in any important political lie involving government and military figures. The bad news is that he has shown that as an icon of journalism he has feet of clay and a weakness of ego. I will never think of him as otherwise again.


    • Nobody, and I mean nobody, ALWAYS TELLS THE TRUTH (don’t you ever get tired of all caps?).

      And by the way, what is it with you and “links”? Huh? You think links are “letting other people do your thinking for you” and yet somehow books are not? Oh, my.


  3. Doesn’t the ready made anti-Obama audience offer a beguiling temptation to any journalist or talking head? The despicable Dick Morris has become very good at mining this rich vein of gold. Maybe once true journalists in their later years fall to the temptation to simply mine these easy riches even at a cost to their integrity.


    • I agree, Bruce, political pundits and political journalists will always face a temptation to feed raw meat to an audience that has suspended their ability to consider alternate viewpoints. Doing so is, I submit, much easier work than merely taking a consistent polarized line in every column, something I see a number of national figures doing. I think it’s also worth noting that it takes work on the part of the reader as well. For instance, there is a column in our local paper by a social activist in Joplin who has been mentioned by Anson B. and who extolls the virtues of what amounts to “tough love” in dealing with the root causes of poverty and homelessness. I strongly agree with his philosophy (although at its heart it is flawed, forcing religion on the vulnerable), but at the same time I’m not ready to discard things like unemployment insurance that have saved countless millions from abject poverty and humiliation. There should be room for considered compromise on such issues, and that’s sadly lacking among pols these days. And, I must say, the pols are not the only culprits in this – the electorate is ultimately to blame. They want programs to be drastically cut, but just not their programs.

      As for the Woodward issue, it reminds me of a post I did last year that started out bemoaning the folly of naming important things for iconic human beings. It led to a good and lengthy discussion of the issue and even prompted some ire when I had the temerity to suggest that George Washington wasn’t perfect. This post and a review of that one now have refreshed my skepticism for whatever I read these days.


      • Jim,

        That was an excellent post. Given what you’ve said here, I would be interested in you exploring your agreement with that “social activist in Joplin,” perhaps in a future blog post. I have read that guy’s writings and I’m not sure what you might mean. Would be great reading.



    • Bruce,

      Believe it or not, I considered the possibility that Woodward was trying to cash in on the right-wing paranoia machine. And his appearance with one of the worst of them, Sean Hannity, did nothing but bolster my suspicions. Folks have done worse things.



  4. ansonburlingame

     /  March 3, 2013

    Not a bad reply, Jim and Bruce and your words of caution have meaning for sure for ANY writer.

    I have every book ever written by Bob, I think, and of course have read and deeply considered each and every one of them. My point of course is over decades now he has “exposed” many things, left and right in such books and his daily reporting in the Post years ago. I recall the outrage from Nixon supporters over Deep Throat and you two are old enough to remember the same to make only one simple point.

    Is Woodward becoming an older man and beginning to “miss some things” or worse, become partisan, in his writings. To me the answer is NO. When I read and consider the things he writes now I see no changes over the last 25 + years. It is just that for the moment he is in the cross hairs of the left, for the time being. Just wait, however, is my expectation.

    Woodward is the type of apolitical writer that will always be in someone’s cross hairs. For me at least I much prefer to read HIS views rather than ones that ALWAYS lean either left or right. Reich, Krugman, Lyons, just to name a few that we read about locally, are cases in point, at least from my perspective. They don’t hold a candle, over time, to Woodward, in my view and neither does George Will as well.

    Just consider this. Had Woodward responded (in a private email back to Sterling) to the Sterling email with a “You’ll regret trying to duck this issue…….” (meaning trying to avoid the blame of raising sequestration first) well you can only imagine the reaction of a journalist “threatening” a public servant!!!



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