'Woodward Is a Skunk; Let's Stipulate That'

J$P Instant Transcript! The News Watch panel chews over the Bob Woodward revelations.

From Fox News Watch, November 19 2005:

ERIC BURNS [FOX NEWS]: The first thing that occurs to me about this, before we talk specifically about Woodward, is that the Bush administration really wanted to get that name out there, didn't it? The Bush administration talked to a lot of journalists, tried to use a lot of journalists.

NEAL GABLER [MEDIA WRITER]: But here's the interesting thing for me. They didn't have to go to Fox News. They didn't even have to go to Bob Novak. They went to the mainstream press. They went to Tim Russert of NBC. They went to Judy Miller of the New York Times. They went to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Because there was an assumption on which they operated. The assumption on which they operated was that they could go to the mainstream press, and the mainstream press would do their bidding. There's an unholy alliance.

BURNS: But they were wrong, because Woodward and Miller, Jim, didn't go with the story.


JANE HALL [AMERICAN UNIVERSITY]: And neither did Tim Russert.

PINKERTON: Yeah, take that, Neal.

GABLER: Well Miller said she was working on a story.

PINKERTON: OK, well in fairness I've got to tell you I'm not a Woodward fan. I've criticized him on this show in the past for the five million dollar sale of papers to the University of Texas. I think that Deep Throat was a little bit of a hustle and a put-up job. However, on this one I don't understand what the controversy is about. I don't understand, I'm sure Neal will explain to me, why Woodward is being criticized. If the government, if you get a secret scoop, I don't think it's your job to go turn it over to the government, to go confess. I thought the whole point was that reporters are supposed to keep secrets and confidences.

HALL: But wait--

GABLER: No, let me just explain to you real quickly, because it's not their job to keep secrets and confidences. A reporter's job is to serve the public, not to serve the Bush administration. That's why there's a problem.

BURNS: It would not, it would not have served the public to reveal Valerie Plame's name, isn't that what we all agree on?

GABLER: It would serve the public to reveal from whom he got this information.

HALL: Can I get in here? Can I say something here?

BURNS: Yes, Jane, go ahead.

HALL: OK, as far as I can tell, he says, and I don't want to get into the whole thing here, he says he recalls telling Walter Pincus, who was under the threat of going to jail, at the Washington Post. The thing I don't understand, it's a question in my mind, if he was sitting there knowing that his own colleagues were facing jail, and his own paper was wrestling with what to do about this, how can you not tell you bosses? And it does appear that he was outed by a source, and I would bet whoever went and told the prosecutor, the special prosecutor, wants to help Scooter Libby. I mean, this thing is so convoluted. And he was also on Larry King Live he didn't have anything to say about this, and he's been criticizing this investigation, disingenuously.

CAL THOMAS [SYNDICATED COLUMNIST]: Jane makes exactly the correct point. Woodward has a standard, which is to say no standard, at the Washington Post that no one else in journalism, much less than newspaper, enjoys. How can he do these things, and see a government official, whether you agree with the policy or not, being indicted, when you know you are the first one who got that name? And I agree with Neal. The job of a journalist is not to serve anything except the public. He's serving himself on this.

BURNS: Wait a minute. Jim is right, isn't he, though? So what if he got the name beforehand. The point is, the right leaker was named.

THOMAS: But as Jane said, he was on Larry King making all of these comments about the special prosecutor, when he had information that could have been useful.

PINKERTON: Woodward is a skunk. Let's stipulate that. However--

BURNS: Woodward is a skunk?

PINKERTON: I'll say it at least. But let's just add also that the gist of where Neal and Jane seem to be headed is, is that when the government investigates you, you're supposed to go confess to the government. That's not what--

HALL: No I didn't say, I said tell his bosses. I didn't say tell Fitzgerald. I said tell Len Downie, his editor.

PINKERTON: Who cares? What difference does it make if telling--

HALL: Your own colleagues are facing jail and you don't bother to tell your editor?

PINKERTON: But then Downie, if Woodward had told his boss at the Post, then his boss at the Post would have the same burden of telling Fitzgerald.

BURNS: So we're not criticizing Woodward here for not going public with Valerie Plame's name--

GABLER: Oh no, no, no, no.

BURNS: --we're criticizing him internally for not talking to the people he works with about it.

GABLER: I'm criticizing him because he was sitting on giant story when it served the Bush administration, and then he revealed it when it served the Bush administration. This is a lackey for the Bush administration.

THOMAS: Under all these new guidelines that are supposed to come up, you're supposed to go and tell your editor these sources before they get into print.

BURNS: It's time for a break...

posted: Sat - November 19, 2005 at 07:45 PM       j$p  send