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Kudos to David Carr for grabbing Washington Post sacred bovine Bob Woodward by the udders and diagnosing a terminal case of mad cow disease (Paper Trail, 6/28).
An “independent newspaper” hyping its own assistant managing editor’s book isn’t the most, er, reliable source. In a just world, the Post would watch a chunk of its credibility disappear into the veracity vortex each time it published a book excerpt from one of its own drudges. But Washington doesn’t have a serious competing newspaper to keep the Post honest. One can hardly rely on a broadsheet subsidized by a religious fanatic for balance, so the Post abuses the luxury of being the newspaper of record. Its shameless promotion of Woodward’s book demonstrates that it revels in its role as boorish snob of the media elite.
Carr’s Paper Trail is a sorely needed check on the Post, and I’ll bet the folks in Woodward’s newsroom don’t like it. Funny, watch a few minutes of a press panel discussion on C-SPAN, and you’ll always see journalists beating their chests about the media’s duty to investigate elected officials, expose transgressions of the public trust, or any of the other usual reporter bromides. But turn the video cameras on the media themselves, and reporters slap their palms over the lenses like so many individuals surprised by a visit from the 60 Minutes crew.
I don’t plan to read The Choice; the two column inches’ worth Carr quoted was plenty. As Carr pointed out, there aren’t any facts Woodward reveals that haven’t already been dished up as warmed-over conventional wisdom. And as for Woodward’s well-known affinity for massaging the truth, why read The Choice when the shelves at Borders are overflowing with the latest from John Grisham and Danielle Steele?