Who Is The Woodward Of The 21st Century?
Journalism professor and topflight blogger Jay Rosen has an idea who it is:
It should be obvious from the work who Woodward Now is. And if it isnâ€™t obvious Greg Sargent can explain it to you over at the American Prospect.
The guyâ€™s name is Murray Waas; heâ€™s an independent journalist who recently went to work as a staff writer for the National Journal and the Atlantic Media Company, which owns the Atlantic Monthly, the Journal, and other titles. Waas has been in the game since he was 18, when he started working for the columnist Jack Anderson.
By Woodward Now I mean the reporter who is actually doing what Woodward has a reputation for doing: finding, tracking, breaking into reportable partsâ€”and then publishingâ€”the biggest story in town. Heâ€™s also putting those parts together for us.
The Biggest Story in Town (almost a term of art in political Washington) is the one that would cause the biggest earthquake if the facts sealed inside it started coming out now. Today the biggest story in town is what really went down as the Bush team drove deceptively to war, and later tried to conceal how bad the deceptionâ€”and decision-makingâ€”had been.
We are still â€œinâ€? that story today, as is the press (deeply) and so a lot rides on it.
Not only is Woodward not in the hunt, but he is slowly turning into the hunted. Part of what remains to be uncovered is how Woodward was played by the Bush team, and what they thought they were doing by leaking to him, as well as what he did with the dubious information he gotâ€” especially since, as the Washington Post reported on April 9, evidence leaked by Scooter Libby to Woodward on June 27, 2003 â€œhad been disproved months before.â€?
Indeed: there is a growing sense (you can almost taste it reading news and blog commentaries) that there’s a belief that Woodward has been “co-opted” by the forces from which he wanted to extract exclusive now-it-can-be-told information. And, yes, his work in recent years did produce some new revelations but some are now asking: at what price?
Woodward is no longer perceived as a tireless reporter to be necessarily feared; he is now perceived as a tireless reporter to be cultivated. He is in danger of being perceived as being to independent, hard-hitting, revelation-producing reporting what CNN’s Larry King is to independent, hard-hitting incisive broadcast reporting.
And Waas? Who else is the consistent stand-out now in breaking new, solid stories in the present generation? There are some excellent investigative reporters out there — and Rosen names them for you — but Waas is the one hitting the most jaw-opening journalistic home runs.
Read Rosen’s post in its entirety (and if you’re interested in news media and blog issues, Press Think is REQUIRED regular reading).