Bob Camp

by

No, not that one.

Bob Woodward. I don’t know if anyone’s been following the rhubarb over Bob’s new book. If you have, are you as confused as I am? I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to (Bob’s writing couldn’t be more dull), so my confusion is really over the rhubarb, not the book.

Bob’s book apparently makes several claims about what the Bush administration knew, when it knew it, what its public statements were at those times, etc. and so forth, all of which paints a pretty unflattering portrait of the administration. (Recall that Woodward’s first book on the Bush admin. was very flattering.) The nice thing about the book, apparently, is that it doesn’t base all this on anonymous sources. People actually went on the record in Woodward’s interviews. Very highly placed people. On the record. Maybe.

See, the thing is, now those people are going on the news and claiming they never said what Woodward claims they said in those interviews. Condi never said Rummy wouldn’t return her calls. Andy Card never advocated that the president find a new Secretary of Defense. Laura Bush never said she thought Rummy was hurting the president. Gen. Abizaid never said Iraq was snafu.

So where does that leave us? Woodward says they said it. On the record. He has The Notes, as the journalists say. But now they say they didn’t say it. The possible axe-grinding scenarios quickly spin out of control, and all of them — that I can think of, anyway — contain some number of absurdities.

Who are we supposed to believe? And, given what he reports they said, how is it possible that Woodward didn’t see this coming? Would he not have recorded all the interviews to prevent these he said-he said conflicts?

I don’t know enough about how journalists work, I guess, but I can’t figure out how Woodward could have let himself get into this entirely predictable situation. And more importantly: who are we to believe?

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5 Responses to “Bob Camp”

  1. Sandi Says:

    I have no idea of Bob Woodward’s professional integrity, but I find it hard to believe that a journalist with as distinguished a career as he’s had would make things up wholesale. That doesn’t seem plausible. Now, if his characterization of what someone said doesn’t precisely match their memory of what they said, I can see that. That’s sort of a three sides to every story thing. But, these people all have good reasons to lie about what they said. Financial reasons. Career reasons. So, I don’t know. I do know that I’m sick to death of politics. It just all makes me want to move to the country and grow my own food.

  2. juvenal_urbino Says:

    But, these people all have good reasons to lie about what they said.

    True, but then, why would they have said it — on the record — in the first place?

    And I agree with you, for the most part, about the unlikelihood of Woodward sacrificing his reputation. (OTOH, he did tarnish that rep a bit in the Valerie Plame story.)

    Neither Woodward lying nor the sources lying makes any sense to me. Both possibilities are about equally absurd. And I can’t quite buy the misunderstanding/mis-characterization option, either. The two sides are too far apart on issues that are too big, and Woodward is too aware of the necessity for pinning a Washington source down.

    I guess the explanation that seems least implausible right now is that the sources said what Woodward claims, and are trying to cover their tracks a bit. But it just makes them look bad, so I can’t imagine why they would do it. Unless talking to Woodward was some half-baked attempt to “come clean” about some things, but they don’t want to feel the administration’s wrath over it. Or revealing then denying was some kind of warning shot across the administration’s bow, but a warning against what?

    I dunno. It don’t make no sense.

  3. Terry Austin Says:

    “We’re like a fat lady at the fair: just happy to be here.”

    Bob Camp, on his team’s trip to the state baseball playoffs, as quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

  4. Michael Lasley Says:

    Did the first two books in this Bush at War series cause this much of a ruckus? I can’t remember. Seems like the second one did at first, but then it quickly died down. Which is what I suspect’ll happen here.

  5. juvenal_urbino Says:

    The first book showed the administration in a very flattering light, so what little controversy there was was over how one-sidedly positive it seemed to some. Nothing to do with sources recanting.

    The second one, as best I recall, was a more mixed view. I don’t remember any controversy over it, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any.

    No doubt the controversy over this one will subside at some point (right now it’s being overshadowed by the Foley scandal), but I kinda think, given the kind of controversy it is — i.e., a dispute between the author and his sources — it’ll go on for a while. Woodward will be doing a book tour and making the rounds on the networks, and I’m guessing there will continue to be some [escalating?] back and forth between him and his sources for at least the duration of those public appearances.

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