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.