The great Woodward roast

Is Bob Judy? That's the question Slate's Jack Shafer answers, 'kinda': "The most significant difference between the two journalists is that Woodward has gotten it right—spectacularly right on many occasions—more often than any other working reporter. The Miller record, especially on the WMD front, isn't even in the same solar system." [LINK]

But he admits that when it comes to kissing high-powered ass and being resolutely narcissistic under fire, Bob could give Ms. Judy a run for her money. Here's what the supposedly repentant Woodward told the AP about his critics: Woodward dismissed the complaints, chalking it up to journalism as a 'contact sport' and contending in an interview with The Associated Press that he faced far worse criticism of his work during Watergate." [LINK]

It takes more than a little of what Shafer describes as "Miller-esque self-centeredness" to reach for that Watergate parallel.

More shameful, however, is Leonard Downie's admission that Woodward is "continuing to report on the leak case. 'He's always reporting,' Mr. Downie said. 'I don't know if it'll become a story for him or for another reporter.'"

It's yet more evidence that the nation's top media outlets have absolutely no concept of "conflict of interest" when it comes to their own newsrooms.

Jonathan Zimmerman does have a point when he argues that news outlets ought not to be reporting on their own errors: "You simply can't expect people who work inside an institution to report impartially about mistakes and malfeasance by their friends and co-workers."

But his solution seems a little radical and, more importantly, highly unlikely: "If news agencies want us to believe them, they should start playing by the same rules as everyone else. When a news organization becomes the focus of a story, it should bring in a neutral outsider to report on its own activities. The country is full of talented, experienced journalists who don't work for NBC News, The Washington Post or The New York Times. Now is the time to call them." [LINK]

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