Bob Woodward

Robert Upshur "Bob" Woodward (born March 26, 1943) is one of the better-known journalists in the United States, thanks largely to his work in helping uncover the Watergate scandal that led to President Richard Nixon's resignation, in a historic partnership with Carl Bernstein, while working as a reporter for The Washington Post. He has written twelve best-selling nonfiction books and has twice contributed reporting to efforts that collectively earned the Post and its National Reporting staff a Pulitzer Prize.

Commissioned as a naval officer (as was his father before him) after graduating from Yale in 1965, Woodward was discharged from the Navy as a Lieutenant in August 1970 after serving as an aide to the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer. Toward the end of his naval service he had his first chance meetings with Mark Felt ("Deep Throat"), later his inside source for information leading to his reporting on the Watergate scandal.

He had applied to several law schools, but had also applied for a job as a reporter for the Washington Post. Harry Rosenfeld, the paper's metropolitan editor, hired him on a two-week trial basis, a tryout that failed because of his complete lack of experience as a journalist. Still interested in becoming a reporter, he got a job with the Montgomery Sentinel. A year after his on-the-job training at the Sentinel, he left that paper and joined The Washington Post in August 1971.

He and Carl Bernstein were assigned to investigate the June 17, 1972 burglary of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in a Washington, D.C. hotel called Watergate. Their work, under editor Ben Bradlee, led to the uncovering of a number of political "dirty tricks" used by the Nixon re-election committee during his campaign for reelection. Their book about the scandal, All the President's Men, became a #1 best-seller and was later turned into a movie. The 1976 film, starring Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein, transformed the reporters into celebrities and inspired a wave of interest in investigative journalism. The book and movie also led to one of Washington D.C.'s most famous mysteries: the identity of Woodward's secret Watergate informant known as Deep Throat, a reference to the title of a popular pornographic movie at the time. Woodward said he would protect Deep Throat's identity until the man died or allowed his name to be revealed. For over 30 years, only Woodward, Bernstein, and a handful of others knew the informant's identity until it was revealed by his family to Vanity Fair magazine as former FBI Associate Director W. Mark Felt in May 2005. Woodward has confirmed his identity and published a book, titled The Secret Man, which detailed his relationship with Felt.

Woodward has allegedly spent the most time of any journalist with President George W. Bush, interviewing him four times for more than seven hours total. Woodward's three most recent books, Bush at War (2002) Plan of Attack (2004), and, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (2006) are purported to be detailed accounts of the Bush presidency, including the response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a series of articles published in January 2002, he and Dan Balz described the events at Camp David in the aftermath of September 11. In these articles, they mention the Worldwide Attack Matrix.

Woodward has been accused by a few critics of being too close to the Bush administration, and some say his relationship with the current administration is in stark contrast to his investigative role in Watergate. Others disagree, however. In 2004 both the Bush campaign and the Kerry-Edwards campaign recommended his book Plan of Attack, and The New York Times said the book contained “convincing accounts of White House failures... presented alongside genial encounters with the president.” Rick Hertzberg in the New Yorker wrote “Plan of Attack” is Woodward’s best book in years" and that "Woodward is welcomed as a fair witness." Woodward's latest book, State of Denial, describes alleged tensions and dysfunctions within the Bush administration in the lead-up to, and following, the invasion of Iraq.

On Monday, October 2, 2006, Woodward's new book "State of Denial" was released. Excerpts of the book have already been provided to the CBS's "60 Minutes" and the Washington Post. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal writes, "It may be a great (book). It is serious, densely, even exhaustively, reported, and a real contribution to history in that it gives history what it most requires, first-person testimony. It is well documented, with copious notes.

On November 14, 2005, Woodward gave a two-hour deposition to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. He testified that a senior administration official told him in June 2003 that Iraq war critic, Joe Wilson’s wife (later identified as Valerie Plame), worked for the CIA. Woodward therefore appears to have been the first reporter to learn about her employment from a government source. The deposition was reported in The Washington Post on November 16, 2005, and was the first time Woodward revealed publicly that he had any special knowledge about the case. Woodward testified the information was given to him in a “casual” and “offhand” manner, and said that he does not believe it was part of any coordinated effort to “out” Plame as a CIA employee. Later, Woodward's source identified himself. It was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy and an internal critic of the Iraq War and the White House inner circle. This revelation undermined Bush administration critics in the media who saw the Plame revelations as a conspiracy to attack a war critic.

Woodward said the revelation came at the end of a long, confidential background interview for his 2004 book Plan of Attack. He did not reveal the official’s disclosure at the time because it did not strike him as important. Later, he kept it to himself because it came as part of a confidential conversation with a source.

In his deposition, Woodward also said that he had conversations with Scooter Libby after the June 2003 conversation with his confidential administration source, and testified that it is possible that he might have asked Libby further questions about Joe Wilson’s wife before her employment at the CIA and her identity were publicly known.

Woodward’s revelation was controversial because he had not told his editor at the Post about the conversation for more than two years, and also because he had publicly criticized the investigation. He had referred to Fitzgerald as a “junkyard dog prosecutor” on Larry King’s television show, and said he believed that when “all of the facts come out in this case, it's going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great." On another occasion, he said of the investigation that he thought there was “nothing to it,” and that Fitzgerald’s behavior had been “disgraceful.” In later interviews after his deposition, Woodward said he had meant by his “junkyard dog” comment to suggest colorfully that Fitzgerald was a tenacious prosecutor, and that the “disgraceful” comment concerned the tactic of putting journalists in prison to coerce them to reveal their confidential sources.

Woodward apologized to Leonard Downie, the editor of The Washington Post for not informing him earlier of the June 2003 conversation. Downie accepted the apology and said even had the paper known it would not have changed its reporting.

Woodward has continued to write books and report stories for The Washington Post, and serves as an assistant managing editor at the paper. He focuses on the presidency, intelligence, and Washington institutions such as the U.S. Supreme Court, The Pentagon, and the Federal Reserve. He has also written the book, Wired, about the Hollywood drug culture and the death of comic John Belushi.

Woodward has twice contributed to collective journalistic efforts that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In 1973, The Washington Post won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Though the Prize was awarded to the entire Post staff, the citation specifically named his and Bernstein's reporting on Watergate as exemplary work. In addition, Woodward was the lead reporter for the Post's articles on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks that won the National Reporting Pulitzer in 2002. He also was awarded the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency in 2003.

Woodward is widely regarded as one of the top reporters of the last half-century, and has earned trust and accolades from government officials and journalists of all political persuasions. In 2003, Al Hunt of The Wall Street Journal called Woodward "the most celebrated journalist of our age." The Weekly Standard called him "the best pure reporter of his generation, perhaps ever." In 2004, Bob Schieffer of CBS News said "Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time."

In writing his books, Woodward collects detailed records, including interviews, documents, transcripts, and recordings. He then uses them to describe events as a story with an omniscient narrator, present tense and dialogue. His books are often very visually descriptive.

While this style may have earned Woodward commercial success, many literary critics consider his prose awkward and his approach inappropriate for his subject matter. Nicholas von Hoffman complained that "the arrestingly irrelevant detail is often used" while Michael Massing thinks the books are "filled with long, at times tedious passages with no evident direction." Joan Didion said Woodward finds "nothing too insignificant for inclusion," including such details as shirts worn and food eaten in unimportant situations.

The narrative, reporting-driven style of Woodward's books also draws criticism for rarely making conclusions or passing judgment on the characters and actions that he recounts in such detail. Didion concluded that Woodward writes "books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent," and finds the books marked by "a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured."

Some of Woodward's critics accuse him of abandoning critical inquiry to maintain his access to high-profile political actors. Anthony Lewis called the style "a trade in which the great grant access in return for glory." Yet Rick Hertzberg in the New Yorker pointed out that For this reason, and because neither analysis nor context—political, historical, even personal—is part of the Woodward package, the information he provides is open to multiple interpretations that are consistent with multiple, and highly inconsistent, points of view. As he has noted with apparent satisfaction in several interviews, different people will read the book in very different ways.

Woodward has said that his books "really are self portraits, because I go to people and I say — I check them and I double check them but — but who are you? What are you doing? Where do you fit in? What did you say? What did you feel?" Critics complain that this style allows the biases and beliefs of his sources to steer the narrative and that those who talk to Woodward are painted more favorably than those who don't. The Brethren, for example, painted a picture of the Supreme Court based on the comments of its clerks; some believe that, as a result, the book suggests that the Supreme Court Justices do little of the actual work. ]Woodward points out recently that Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld was one of his primary sources for "State of Denial", yet is perhaps the most harshly portrayed figure in the book.

Woodward's dual role as journalist and author has opened him up to occasional criticism for sitting on information for publication in a book, rather than presenting it sooner when it might affect the events at hand. In The Commanders (1991), for instance, he indicated that Colin Powell had opposed Operation Desert Storm, yet Woodward did not publish this information before Congress voted on a war resolution, when it may have made a difference. And in Veil, he indicates that former CIA Director William Casey personally knew of arms sales to the Contras, but he did not reveal this until after the Congressional investigation.

Woodward has also been accused of exaggeration and fabrication by other journalists, most notably regarding "Deep Throat", his famous Watergate informant. Before he was revealed to be W. Mark Felt, some contended that Deep Throat was a composite character based on more than one Watergate source. Martin Dardis, the chief investigator for the Dade County State Attorney, who in 1972 discovered that the money found on the Watergate burglars came from the Committee to Re-elect the President, has complained that All the President's Men misrepresented him. Woodward was also accused of fabricating his deathbed interview with Casey, as described in Veil; critics say the interview simply could not have taken place as written in the book. However, the CIA's own internal report found that Casey spoke to Woodward 43 time, sometimes alone at Casey's home, and his deputy Bob Gates wrote in his own book that he was able to communicate with Casey at that same time and quoted Casey making short statements similar to those reported by Woodward. The author Ronald Kessler reported similar findings in his book on the CIA. Finally, a book rreview New York Review of Books challenged a story about Brennan, but Woodward and Armstrong had one of Brennan's clerks confirm the story on the record.

Despite these criticisms and challenges, Woodward has been praised as an authoritative and balanced journalist. The New York Times Book Review said in 2004 that "No reporter has more talent for getting Washington’s inside story and telling it cogently." The publication of a Woodward book, perhaps more than any other contemporary author's, is treated as a major political event that dominates national news for days.

Commentator David Frum has said, perhaps partly tongue-in-cheek, that Washington officials can learn something about the way Washington works from Woodward's books: "From his books, you can draw a composite profile of the powerful Washington player. That person is highly circumspect, highly risk averse, eschews new ideas, flatters his colleagues to their face (while trashing them to Woodward behind their backs), and is always careful to avoid career-threatening confrontation. We all admire heroes, but Woodward's books teach us that those who rise to leadership are precisely those who take care to abjure heroism for themselves."

Woodward was born in Geneva, Illinois to Alfred and Jane Woodward. He was brought up in nearby Wheaton. He enrolled in Yale University with an NROTC scholarship, and studied history and English literature. He received his B.A. degree in 1965, and began a four-year tour of duty in the Navy to fuflill his NROTC commitment.

Woodward now lives in the Georgetown section of Washington. He is married to Elsa Walsh, a writer for The New Yorker, and has two daughters, one with Elsa and one with his first wife.

Woodward has co-authored or authored ten #1 national best-selling non-fiction books, more than any other contemporary American writer. They are:

* All the President's Men (1974) about the Watergate scandal;
* The Final Days (1976) about Nixon's resignation;
* The Brethren (1979) about the Supreme Court in the Warren Burger years;
* Wired (1984) on the death of John Belushi and the Hollywood drug culture;
* Veil (1987) about the CIA's "secret wars" during the reign of William J. Casey;
* The Commanders (1991) on The Pentagon, the first Bush administration and the Gulf War;
* The Agenda (1994) about Bill Clinton's first term
* Shadow (1999) on the legacy of Watergate and the scandals that faced later Presidential administrations;
* Bush at War (2002) about the path to war with Afghanistan following September 11;
* Plan of Attack (2004) about how and why President George W. Bush decided to go to war with Iraq.
* State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III (2006) which revealed some interesting information about the Bush administration and the War in Iraq. Highly controversial, it appeared on the Today show just before its release.

Other books, which have also been best-sellers but not #1, are:

* The Choice (1996) about Clinton's re-election bid
* Maestro (2000) about Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan
* The Secret Man (2005) about Mark Felt's disclosure, after more than thirty years, that he was Deep Throat. The book was written before Felt admitted his title, as he was sickly and Bob expected that someway or another, it would come out. Since he still had some finishing to do, the book was done 10 days after.

Newsweek has excerpted five of Woodward's books in cover stories; 60 Minutes has done segments on five; and three have been made into movies.

Rich, Frank. "All the President's Flacks," New York Times. (December 4, 2005)

Pease, Lisa. "Bob Woodward" Probe Magazine, January-February 1996 (Vol. 3 No. 2)

On The Simpsons episode Whacking Day, Bart reads a book called "The Truth About Whacking Day", written by Bob Woodward.

In the movie The Skulls, the character Will Beckford tries to compare himself to Woodward while reading his column in the school newspaper.

In the movie Dick, which is about Watergate, Woodward is played by actor/comedian Will Ferrell. Woodward and Bernstein are depicted as two bickering, childish near-incompetents, small-mindedly competitive with each other.


* "I called my father and said I'm not going to law school, but have this job at a newspaper he had never heard of. And my father said probably the severest thing he has ever said to me. He said, 'You're crazy.' So he didn't think it was a good idea."
* "You won't achieve understanding of a person or an issue in a day. Take your time, dig, go back."Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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