Woodward controversy reveals the media’s circus act

Step right up, folks, the circus is in town! That’s right, the American media is back with a brand-new performance, sure to be an instant classic! After all, we all know by now the media has neither the ability nor the inclination to keep us informed; that’s not their job anymore. Their job is to keep us entertained, and they never disappoint.

You know those performances that start out really boring? Well, this one started with the sequester. Boring accomplished. I would explain what the sequester is, but there’s a finite amount of caffeine in the world; if you don’t know, Google it. Anyway, Bob Woodward, one of the most famous living reporters, wrote an opinion piece about the sequester for The Washington Post, saying the sequester was conceived of and put into action by the Obama administration, and that Obama is now trying to change the deal he originally made. He’s mostly right, but that’s not the important thing.

The following week, in an interview with Politico, Woodward claimed a senior White House official threatened him via email after the piece was published. Was the White House really intimidating journalists? Well, no. It didn’t take long for the truth to come out: the email in question was innocuous, no threat was made and Woodward responded to the email in a friendly manner, but that’s not the important thing, either.

Bob Woodward is best known for being one of the two men who uncovered the Watergate scandal and precipitated the downfall of President Richard Nixon. He’s a legend in investigative reporting; Robert Redford played him in the movie. That was a long time ago (the movie came out in 1976). Since then, Woodward has taken heat from the journalist community for his apparently unquestioning compliance with the second Bush administration and his involvement in the Valerie Plame affair. These days, the general consensus seems to be Woodward is a meticulous, accurate reporter who doesn’t do a whole lot of critical thinking; he has access to all the right people, and he believes what they tell him.

That’s not the important thing.

The important thing is the media reaction to this controversy, on both sides of the partisan divide. It’s hilarious. After Woodward claimed he’d been threatened by the White House, the nation’s political right, who traditionally despise the liberal media and everyone associated with it, came rushing to Woodward’s defense, their hatred of the press set aside temporarily in favor of their undiluted loathing for the president. Meanwhile, over on the left, Woodward became an overnight pariah, because he had dared to blame the sequester on Obama. Everyone knows it was the Republicans’ fault, they whined. How dare this reporter criticize the President of All Things Just and Wise?

A columnist on The Daily Kos, a supposedly progressive website that didn’t have a single bad word to say about Obama throughout the entire 2012 election cycle, wrote:

“Now with recent events, I’m forced to wonder if maybe Carl Bernstein had been the brains of [Watergate], and Woodward just some random hack on the paper who had been assigned to work with him.”

How vicious is that? When the left turns on you, they really turn on you! And the response, via Twitter, of infamously stupid and/or insane Fox News pundit Dana Perino?

“Somewhere in Moscow tonight, Vladimir Putin saw that Bob Woodward was sent a threatening message from the White House . . . and he smiled.”

Wow. It’s a good thing the Cold War hasn’t ended yet, or Perino would sound like Joe McCarthy after a lobotomy.

This isn’t the news anymore, folks. It’s a three-ring circus. I’d like to say the performance is one night only, but we’re not that lucky. It’s all day, every day, for the rest of our lives. Welcome to the American media. Enjoy the show.

Originally published in The Lumberjack (http://jackcentral.com/opinion/2013/03/woodward-controversy-reveals-the-medias-circus-act/)

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