Woodward Weighs In On NYT/McCain Story

From last night’s Newsweek/washingtonpost.com webcast:

    MEACHAM: What did you make of the New York Times story about his relationship with the lobbyist that may not have been

    WOODWARD: McCains relationship.

    MEACHAM: Yes.

    WOODWARD: I can say that I think my paper, The Post, did the story right. Not about any sexual innuendo, but about the relationship in terms of McCain chairing this committee and this woman being a lobbyist. You’ll hate me for this but I have two views about it. I read the story, it seemed thin. At the same time, if you look back on lots of stories that turned out to be important, they looked thin, at first. And I go back to Watergate and the denunciations about unnamed sources and how can you do this and some sort of allegations of political motive and so forth, so I think it’s one of those stories that we’re going to have to wait and see on. And I don’t know the back story of what the editors knew and what they thought they knew. As it read, it seemed like it needed an editor who was going to say “Well what’s this story really about?” and give it focus. There’s a scene in our book about covering Watergate in the movie where Carl Bernstein and I have a story about Howard Hunt, who led the Watergate operation, investigating Teddy Kennedy. We had little snatches and Bradley sat there and read the story and said “You haven’t got it.” And the point he made was, “it doesn’t mean we won’t run this story someday, if you get good information, but we’re not going to run it based on what you got.” That’s okay to do. There’s no urgency to these stories.

    MEACHAM: It is true that great editing is not only about what you publish but what you don’t.

    WOODWARD: Or what you wait on. And that’s really important. He never said ‘we’re not going to run that.’ He said it’s a matter of evidence and proof and, you know, do you have it, and he could look at it as a reader and say ‘you don’t have it.’