Why do I write? There are a lot of reasons, but a big one is that it is a good way of dumping corrosive ideas so that they stop eating at me. I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure it is a good thing, but it just is.
Just over a week ago I offloaded
my anger at our corrupt press corps. I unloaded
repeatedly on Judy Miller, who I considered the worst of the worst. I thought I might be able to put the Tums away for awhile.
Wrong on all counts.
As low as Judy Miller is, Bob Woodward has plumbed new subterranean depths. As shamefully derelict as the management of the Times was in telling truth to power, Bob Woodward's current and former putative bosses are showing themselves equally derelict and compromised.
What makes this worse than what Judy did? Here's what Woodward says now -- after his malfeasance became public:
Woodward, an assistant managing editor and best-selling author, said he told Leonard Downie Jr. that he held back the information because he was worried about being subpoenaed by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case.
"I apologized because I should have told him about this much sooner," Woodward said in an interview. "I explained in detail that I was trying to protect my sources. That's Job No. 1 in a case like this. . . .
"I hunkered down. I'm in the habit of keeping secrets. I didn't want anything out there that was going to get me subpoenaed."
You contemptible cur. You flaming fuckwad. Protecting sources is not job number 1. Keeping secrets is a habit utterly incompatible with the function of a free press. And keeping quiet in order to avoid having to testify as a witness to and participant in the commission of felonies -- Fitzgerald may not see it this way, but in my book that's obstruction of justice.
And of course there is the inescapable fact that Judy has had the mark of the devil emblazoned on her forehead for decades. The only surprise in her arc was how long the Times continued to enable her malfeasance. Woodward's arc -- from Watergate hero to Plamegate enabler -- is far more damaging.
In the same way that the Republicans have shown themselves to be completely uninterested in the business of governing, the press has shown itself to be completely uninterested in what most of us think is their primary purpose -- telling the public the truth. So-called reporters are far more interested in joining Republicans at the trough than in reporting on the corruption that has enveloped them, too.
I won't buy your books, Bob -- the product of your whoring -- even if they end up in the remainder bin. The real cost of what you are doing is simply too high.
And yes, I think this does hurt Fitz's case against Libby, which is exactly why Washington's favorite portraitist is helping to put the story out now. Fitz may now be in the awkward position of having to attack Woodward's credibility at the same time he is relying (to some degree) on the credibility of others in the press.
Thirty years ago the cancer -- the one John Dean saw and Bob Woodward helped cure -- was limited to the executive branch. Now it has spread to all three branches and the Fourth Estate. When cancer metastasizes that much, the prognosis is usually grim.
Tums ain't gonna do it today.
Update: What Digby says