Is Woody Out?
(In response to last night’s post on the Page Six gossip that Bob Woodward may be retiring from the Washington Post, Paul Lukasiak wrote this comment and I thought it deserved much wider exposure — JH)
There are excellent reasons why the Post is extremely unhappy with Woodward right now.
First and foremost, his story makes no sense. And what “sense” it does make, implicates Woodward (and, by extension, the Post) in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
First, why Woodward’s story makes no sense.
1) Woodward claims that he was told about “Wilson’s wife” before anyone else.
2) Woodward claims that he told Pincus immediately, but didn’t tell Downie at that point.
3) Woodward knows that Pincus has an obligation to tell Downie (and the Post lawyers) everything he knows about the “Plame” story, especially given that Pincus was subpoenaed and the Post’s lawyers negotiated the terms under which Pincus was eventually deposed by Fitzgerald
4) Thus, Woodward has to have assumed that Pincus had told Downie that Woodward had told Pincus about “Wilson’s wife”, and that there was no reason for Woodward to have kept it a secret from Downie until October 24th.
5) When Woodward went public with his “I told Pincus” story, Pincus denied it.
6) When Woodward was questioned about telling Pincus, he said that he told Pincus while he was passing Pincus’s desk, and Pincus said “What?”, which Woodward took to mean “That’s interesting”. Woodward also said that was the full extent of the conversation
7) Woodward later admitted that “What?” could have meant “I didn’t hear what you said.”
Conclusion – Woodward never told Pincus what he claims he told Pincus. If Woodward believed that Pincus knew, he would not have kept the info from Downie. Pincus had no reason to hide from Downie the fact that Woodward had told him about “Wilson’s wife”, he denied ever being told about “Wilson’s wife” by Woodward, and Woodward’s “explanation” was not merely incredibly lame, but was eventually retracted.
Next, lets deal with the “obstruction of justice” question.
1) Woodward claimed that he went to his source on a number of occasions and reminded his source of their conversation, and suggested that his source tell the special prosecutor.
2) Woodward claims that his source repeatedly ignored Woodward’s urgings to tell the story to Fitzgerald –
3) Thus, (assuming Woodward’s source was someone who had been questioned by the FBI and/or testified under oath) Woodward literally conspired with his source to keep information material to a federal grand jury investigation from that grand jury.
Especially given Woodward’s role as an editor of the Post, and the involvement of the Post’s lawyers in the Pincus negotiations, this puts the Post in a really bad position — not only did one of their supervisory personnel conspire to keep material information from the Special Prosecutor, he did so while the Post was negotiating the terms under which a Post reporter would be allowed to be deposed under super “special” circumstances.
Then, there is the whole question of the timing of Woodward’s involvement. In the month before the grand jury was to expire, there were tons of reports about all sorts of people being indicted by Fitzgerald. Woodward, who had shown no interest in the story until that point, suddenly decides he wants to “report” on it for the Post.
So Woodward starts investigating….and comes up with a story so big that he has to go on October 24th to Downie and tell him about being told about “Wilson’s wife” very early on. But, even though Woodward had this huge story – a story so big that he has to disclose to Downie the secret he’d been keeping for two years — Woodward never publishes that story. Moreover, on October 27(?), when he shows up on TV and is asked about the rumors that he has a “bombshell” story that is coming about about the Plame affair, he denies it—-and around the same time says that the whole “Plamegate” thing is just a molehill being made into a mountain.
So, what happened to Woodward’s scoop that was so big that he had to go to Downie with the “I heard about Wilson’s wife first and told Pincus” story?
Here’s the thing that most people don’t yet understand. FitzG let Pincus be deposed under very “special” arrangements (like not having to actually name his source) based on promises that Pincus and the Post were operating in good faith. Doubtless, one of the questions that were resolved during the negotiations and/or deposition was that Pincus first heard about Wilson’s wife from his “White House source.” So, when Bob Woodward shows up on October 24.(four days before the grand jury is about to expire) and tells Len Downie “I told Walter Pincus about Wilson’s wife long before he heard about it from his government source”, all hell broke out at the Post.
The first thing that would have happened is that the Post would have told FitzG that that the reliability of Pincus’s testimony had been drawn into serious question by Bob Woodward, one of the Post’s editors — and that would have happened immediately—-the Post had to notify FitzG that there were questions about Pincus’s testimony before FitzG cited Pincus in an indictment.
So, with days left before the Grand Jury was about to expire, FitzG is confronted with information that one of his key witnesses may have lied under oath. Since he didn’t have time to figure out what the hell had happened, he did the only thing he could do—- create indictments without ever referring to Pincus’s testimony. And THAT is why Libby is the only person who was indicted….
Of course, FitzG is pissed, and is now demanding that the Post demonstrate its good faith by turning over all of Woodwards notes having to do with his “investigation” of Plamegate — and because of the whole “obstruction of justice” charge hanging over Woodward, the Post is more than willing to comply.
But Woodward isn’t. Which is why Cindy Adams is reporting that Woodward may be out at the Post.