Monday, March 22, 2004

Whiskey Bar: The World Turned Upside Down

In the comments to this post -- Whiskey Bar: The World Turned Upside Down -- "four legs good" asks, "I'd love to hear the back story of how Bob Woodward turned to the dark side. He seems not to question anything bushco says. Honestly I just don't get it. You'd think someone who was in the thick of Watergate would be well aware of the capacity for medacity in an administration. Is the money and the social position he holds in Washington that completely corrupting" This, I think, is a small art of a larger question: Why do so many journalists believe everything they hear from members of this administration without skepticism, doubt or question? My theory is that the Bushies have been so tightfisted with the information they do hand out that when someone does deign to speak, the one spoken to runs off, convinced beyond all doubt that he or she is the bestestest investigative reporter EVER, and parrots it without filtering it through any critical thought process.

For Woodward, I suspect it's a little different. What I said above is mostly true, but I also suspect that Woodward has a nostalgic feeling for the way things in Washington used to be run. When Clinton and his team came to town, it was like some internet start-up. Lots of late-night bull sessions about strategy and vision, but in the end it wasn't all that it had seemed, and some reporters felt a little silly for having drunk the Kool-Aid. Then the Bushies are back in town and everyone's wearing a suit and Florsheim's and working banker's hours, the way things are supposed to be. In actuality, it's like the people who ran Pets.com being replaced by the people who ran Enron. It's a superficial change for the better, while masking a deeper and more profound mismanagement that is going to cost everyone a heck of a lot more than they ever imagined.

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