Don’t Mess With Bob

Nora Ephron–formerly Mrs. Carl Bernsteinposits an interesting theory at the Huffington Post about Bob Woodward‘s role in covering government:

    If you don’t talk to Woodward, you’ll be sorry. I mention this not because it’s precisely true (look at me), but because it’s an operating truth in official Washington. What’s more, it’s the only explanation I can come up with for why Woodward was foolish enough to trash Fitzgerald’s investigation; I suspect that Fitzgerald is the only powerful figure in Washington who does not pour his heart out to Woodward on a weekly basis, and Woodward was telling him that he’d better get on the train.

    But that’s just a theory.

The theory may not be without merit. It was given some lip-service in Howard Kurtz‘s piece in yesterday’s post. Some samples:

  • [David] Gergen, who worked for Clinton before McCurry joined the White House, says his bosses told him he was expected to talk to Woodward once a week.

  • But outsiders often wonder: Why does an administration not known for being fond of the press put so much effort into cooperating with Woodward?

  • [Robert] Kuttner accuses Woodward of running “a protection racket — you sit still for an interview and you get treated generously. You don’t cooperate with Woodward and it’s going to be hell.”

  • Gergen calls Woodward “one of the most seductive individuals in the whole world,” one who will stress that he’s already spoken to others in a meeting and that “you’re only going to hurt yourself and hurt the cause you care about if you don’t talk.”

This may be an interesting approach to journalism, indeed, but if, in fact, the Bush administration (and previous administrations) is intimidated by Woodward, it probably doesn’t do much to support the theories that Woodward is merely an administrative mouthpiece.