Woodward’s strange attitude to accuracy

There’s huge global media attention on Bob Woodward’s new book Fear, a million copies of which hit the bookshelves in the U.S. alone on Sept. 11.

Woodward has written bestselling books on several presidents, but a strange statement he made in 1981 is indelibly etched in my memory. He was assistant managing editor at the Washington Post at that time, and recommended the newspaper’s Janet Cooke for a Pulitzer Prize for “Jimmy’s World,” reporting about an eight-year-old heroin addict.

article continues below

Cooke’s fame was fleeting as, under pressure, she confessed to making up the whole sad saga about poor little Jimmy.

After wiping the egg off his face, Woodward made a strange statement: “I think the decision to nominate the story for a Pulitzer is of minimal consequence. I also think that it won is of little consequence. It is a brilliant story — fake and fraud that it is. It would be absurd for me or any other editor to review the authenticity or accuracy of stories nominated for prizes.”

There are many anonymous sources in the latest blockbuster book Fear, and people in the Trump administration who are named are rushing forward with loud denials.

On his current book tour, Woodward seems to be echoing Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, who famously told Scarlett O’Hara: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Bernie Smith


Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist