Woodward sells the same interview twice

According to Rick Perlstein, Bob Woodward's successive Bush books simply interpreted a series of interviews in different ways to create a picture that jives with the public mood.

Plan of Attack and State of Denial both depict the same overlapping events, though one was on the Administration's recommended reading list, while the other is being responded to with aggressive press releases "debunking" its myths.

Some examples of finger-in-the wind reading of similar events:

Plan of Attack: "'I want to know what the options are,' Bush recalled. 'A president cannot decide and make rational decisions unless I understand the feasibility of that which may have to happen.'" State of Denial: "Why should I care about North Korea?"

Plan of Attack: "As Tommy planned, I wanted him to understand some of the nuances, or understand issues in a nuanced way." State of Denial: "I wish those assholes would put things just point-blank to me. I get half a book telling me about the history of North Korea."

Plan of Attack: "Bush, 55, has a quick, joshing manner which at times borders on the impulsive." State of Denial: "Bush and Rove in particular dwelled on 'flatulence'—passing gas—and they shared an array of fart jokes."

I have little doubt that Woodward isn't trying to pull a fast one. I'm sure he sees his work as a slow process of piecing together mountains of evidence before assigning the worst to a statement or position. But for crying out loud, to approach the president of the U.S. in a rush to war, without mountains of skepticism? If journalism is meant to be the "first draft of history" it's gonna be a hell of a revising process.

Oh wait, Woodward revised himself.

Read the rest of Perlstein's piece in the NY Observer HERE.


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