Okay, we know that most of us, including our heroes in the sixties and seventies, sold out to the establishment eventually. Look at the 'Chicago Seven'. The defiant defenders on trial for inciting a riot actually started by police at the '68 Democratic Convention. Years later you would find Jerry Rubin on Wall Street, Rennie Davis a venture capitalist and John Froines at OSHA.
We Thought He Helped Us Change The World
Still, for those of us coming of age during the Watergate Era, Woodward and Bernstein epitomized the huge change that had occurred. In those days, politicians and other people of stature had their 'protections'. Reporters and newspapers avoided discussing their private lives. There was an assumption in the air that a certain level of corruption in government would probably occur. It was accepted as 'business as usual' the 'boys will be boys' mentality. But it was assumed that despite their little 'deviances' for the most part these people were working for our greater good.
Originally The Watergate Break-In Sounded Like A Silly Prank
The War and ensuing protests had changed a lot of this. But still, accusing the Republicans of masterminding a break-in? It seemed both pointless and ridiculous to ponder such a thing. It took a while as revelation after revelation hit the news for the full impact of the dirty tricks and manipulations to hit. Woodward and Bernstein led the world of journalism and government idealists into a new era of demanding truth, justice and the American way.
I Thought Maybe He Took Too Many Drugs In The Sixties
So here we are a generation later. An aging Woodward startled me when he began penning sycophantic books about the W administration and their paths to war. Yet, even I, in the cynicism of middle age, couldn't have imagined this big of a sellout. That any man who accomplished so much could become this great of a traitor to his younger self.
It Was Like Sex, Lies and Videotape But Without The Sex
Which is worse? His concealing knowledge about the Valerie Plame outing that was under investigation? His appearing on television spinning for the administration--without telling anyone he had a secret AND a private agenda regarding this topic?
In July '05, on NPR's Fresh Air he dared to say: "When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great."
I Guess He Never Thought Anyone Would Check What He Said
When he appeared on Larry King Live in that same month, he offered to serve part of Judith Miller's jail sentence. Here is a quote from the transcript of 7/11:
“WOODWARD: No. Clearly, we're not above the law. But frequently, people disobey the law. And when you do so, you have to be willing to accept the consequences. And in this case, the consequences, I guess, are a four-month jail sentence, and Judy Miller's willing to do that, to stand on this principle of trust. You know, I...
I would have done it; too...it came to mind. If the judge would permit it, I would go serve some of her jail time, because I think the principle is that important, and it should be underscored. It's not a casual idea that we have confidential sources. It is absolutely vital. And I'll bet there are all kinds of reporters out there, if we could divvy up this four-month jail sentence -- I suspect the judge would not permit that, but if he would, I'll be first in line. It's that important to our business….”
He Only Wanted People To THINK That He Would Go To Jail To Make A Point
Now let me just point out a few of the ironies here. He claims he didn't tell his editor or the special prosecutor of his knowledge because he didn't want to be subpoenaed, didn't want to reveal his sources. But he was already offering to do jail time with Judy, so why not bring his knowledge out in the open and serve at her side? That would have been a dignified and powerful statement.
The second is that it has been reported that before testifying with Fitzgerald last week he wanted a 'release' from being placed in jail. From July to November he certainly changed his tune. He went from wanting to be first in line to wanting to stay out of the building.
He also stated that actions have consequences and reporters aren’t above the law although he has yet to apply that to himself.
It Might Be Partly His Fault That 'W' Is President
In his news conference Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald (the guy Woodward liked to call a junkyard dog) mentioned that the investigation was delayed because of Judith Miller's refusal to provide the necessary information. Fitzgerald even mentioned that his lack of information and ensuing delays might have affected the outcome of the ‘04 presidential election. Not only is that probable, Woodward's silence was one more way of making a Bush victory possible.
Was Woodward's behavior a reflection of his real self? Was the Watergate investigation a crass move to skyrocket his career? Or did his idealism die so hard that he became the ultimate part of the problem, betraying both himself and his readers?
Nixon May Be Dead But That Doesn't Mean That He Lost His Sense of Humor
Woodward (and Bernstein) became famous by bringing down a man who was known for keeping secrets. He was famous for manipulating people and information for his own agenda. How ironic that Woodward did the same thing. Somewhere, Nixon is laughing.