THREAT-LEVEL-GATE©: Bob Woodward’s Awful Hope-Y’All-Won’t-Notice-Ryan-Lizza’s-Report Ploy

Bob Woodward, the legendary Watergate reporter turned reliable chronicler of insider accounts of political events, has made a series of bizarre assertions over the past week.
– Matthew Yglesias, Bob Woodward Trolls the World, Slate, today

Yglesias then summarizes last weekend’s exciting Woodward-related events, and then updates us:

Things moved into the absurd Wednesday night when it was revealed that National Economic Council director Gene Sperling had concluded an email disagreement with Woodward with the observation that in Sperling’s view Woodward would come to regret clinging so tenaciously to an untenable position.
As if determined to prove Sperling right, Woodward chose to start talking around town about how Sperling had threatened him—a ridiculous interpretation that the ridiculous conservative media has been running with—rather than sticking with the obvious interpretation that Woodward’s reputation among journalists is going to suffer from flagrant wrongness. It would be interesting to see Woodward try to hash this out with, say, fellow Post-ie Ezra Klein, but instead he’s going the full wingnut and will be appearing on Sean Hannity’s show Thursday night to advance the agitprop agenda. In retrospect, this whole affair was foreshadowed by the release of Woodward’s latest book last fall. It made much less of a splash than many other Woodward books. Most well-informed observers agreed with Noam Scheiber that it was marred by anti-Obama bias, but under the circumstances of the time, it didn’t get the right geared up either. By essentially doubling down on the worst qualities of that book, Woodward has managed to make himself the center of attention again.

Surprisingly, though, Yglesias doesn’t mention that earlier this week, New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza published a journalistic scoop that undermined the thing about Woodward being a reliable chronicler of insider accounts of political events.  Lizza quoted none other than Eric Cantor, who conceded that Boehner, at Cantor’s urging, reneged on the 2011 grand bargain deal at the last minute, for political reasons.  

Uh-oh.   

So, do you think Woodward might have decided to ratchet up the off-the-rails stuff a-few-fold yesterday because yesterday (or maybe the day before) was the day when Ryan Lizza’s New Yorker story broke?  Yeah?  You think?

Yes, that’s right.  Bob Woodward, the legendary Watergate reporter had turned a reliable chronicler of insider accounts of political events, and has now been exposed as a reliable and gullible tool of Republican insiders.  But he hopes no one will notice that.

What I find interesting about this is that apparently the Washington Post has pulled the plug on Woodward’s unfettered use of it as a forum in which to spread false statements of fact. Thus he was relegated to seeking out Politico as his venue for the “breaking news” this time.

Progress.

I can’t help wondering, though, whether Sperling was right that Woodward might come to regret his flagrantly false reporting on what the sequester agreement is.  He hasn’t yet, though. He’s still cowering with fear from that threat, but determined to press on nonetheless.

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By the way, you really, really need to see Alexandra Petri’s threat-level piece on this. Seriously.  (Just be sure you’re not eating anything you might choke on when you do.)

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