November 22, 2005

Woodward's Close Ties


Out of hundreds of possible file photos the NYT could have chosen to accompany an update on Bob Woodward (Post Editor Foresees Possibility of Naming Leak Source – link) why pick this one?  The image, taken in April, shows Woodward helping Ben Bradlee, the former Post executive editor, with his tie.

Besides the touching portrait of a long time relationship, I’m wonder what other associations the photo editors had in mind.

For example, does the picture help explain Woodward’s assumption he could downplay his involvement in the Plame affair by virtue of his membership in the old boys club?  And/or, does the picture say something about Washington journalists and the problem of boundaries?  Given the incestuous connections the scandal exposed between the administration and the press, is it that far-fetched to visualize Woodward (essentially, the White House biographer) in the same pose with Colin Powell or even Dick Cheney?

Reflective of the insularity and self-importance of the Washington media elite, I was interested in Bradlee’s comment in the article’s last paragraph regarding Woodward’s secret role in the C.I.A. leak.

“We’re so interested in our own selves, especially in these two papers in this city,” Mr. Bradlee said in an interview. “Outside the Beltway I feel this story has very minor interest.”

I hope Bradlee isn’t suggesting that the significance of this story (and others like it) is somehow proportional to the degree of interest it attracts.  If that’s the case, why would anybody have persisted in trying to draw attention to the Administration’s pre-war sales job years before the public started taking notice?

(image: Christy Bowe/Polaris. November 18, 2005.  The New York Times.  p. A20.)

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Michael Shaw
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