February 18, 2006
Woodward and Bernstein on Larry King Live

Did anyone watch Woodward & Bernstein in their interview on Larry King Live last night? I’ll post a link to the transcript, but Bernstein made some pretty startling statements for the MSM. His comments mirrored those of many of us on the left here in the blogosphere — and not the middle left, it was radical for the MSM; I’ve never heard anything like it on the MSM in quite some time. Woodward kept trying to backpedal, but Bernstein kept pushing and even Woodward was forced to agree with a great deal of Bernstein’s comments. Some memes: “they’re liars”, compared the state of the nation as almost an Orwellian 1984, and it kept getting better — he described the pitiful state of the nation much as I hear Chuck describing it. All in all, it was quite refreshing for the MSM. Don’t miss the transcript, or a rerun if they let it run again. Perhaps I shouldn’t feel this way, but I think that this might be a hopeful sign. There’s a lot more. I’d appreciate any comments from anyone who heard it, or who reads the transcript when it becomes available.

[Update: just after I posted this, I saw the transcript was available. Link here. I’ll post one short selection below, but go read the rest.]

BERNSTEIN: Larry just asked exactly the right question why not tell the truth? Why not tell the truth about WMD and the failure of intelligence? Look behind me again. This president has refused to give the record of his deliberations and of those aides of his as to how they responded to this hurricane to the Congress of the United States.

This is unheard of. Why not tell the truth? Why not tell the truth about how it is that this president authorized the use of torture in regulations promulgated by the now attorney general, then counsel to the president Mr. Gonzales?

Why not tell the truth about this spying program without warrants that George Will, the conservative columnist said yesterday represents a grab of presidential authority that might be as dangerous as terrorism itself.

We have got a real problem of truth and I would suggest that we are at a point. We now know, you know, John Dean wrote a book called “Worse than Watergate” about this president and when he wrote it I thought it was just hyperbole. Now, we are at a point where we were after the reporting Bob and I did in Watergate, after Judge Sirica entered the Watergate situation and brought to the light some more facts. We are at a similar point in this presidency where we were with the Irvin investigation…

[update 2: A commenter in a link to this one on another blog, Crooks and Liars (thanks Mike), indicated that the show will rerun tonight on CNN. Don’t miss it. Bernstein is one pissed off fellow in that show, like so many of us, and he doesn’t hide his contempt and scorn. I’ve practically sworn off the MSM, but this one I’m going to watch for a second time...and some of you might want to spot check the current transcript for errors-I’ll do the same.]

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Posted by Buck Batard at February 18, 2006 07:23 AM
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This country finds it self in a curious place these days. We have a MSM that is practically to the right of Goldwater and who refuse to do their jobs. Twenty years ago, the notion that a major network like FOX would be blatantly right wing, to the point of "scrubbing" the news to favor the right, would have been unthinkable. The Sunday "talking heads" lean right by a better than three to one margin, judging by their guests. News people like Russert and Matthews refuse to ask the tough questions of their republican guests and in Matthews' case, practically fawn over the president. Right wing lunatics like Roberts and O'Reily are allowed to spew their hatred and lies unchecked. The result is a public that is ignorant of the lies and crimes of this administration.
The latest Gallup poll, 2/9-12/06, shows that 39% of the public still think Bush is doing a good job. Nobody who is well informed can possibly think that unless they are rabid fascists. So, where does this leave us? We have a criminal administration with some of the best liars ever seen in public office crafting lies for a media that is willing to accept them at face value, without investigating even the most egregious of them, and publishing them for a public that is for the most part, too stupid to see through them and is unwilling to concern itself with forcing the MSM to improve the accuracy of the information.
In a democracy, you get the government you deserve. As long as we have dismal turnouts for voting, crooked elections unchallenged, lazy and/or bought off media and a party that will do anything to stay in power, we will certainly continue to pay the price.

Posted by: BushHasDamnedUs on February 19, 2006 12:21 PM

Yes, yes, yes, I saw the Larry King show with W&B and thank you for remarking on this uplifting show. I wondered why I had not seen anyone mention the interview. Loved how Carl would node his head in the affirmatives when Woodwrard made statements. I just marked it off as my romantic streak, bringing back memories of the past when good buys gave the bad guys a run for their money. I remember after the stolen election that I just had to turn away because I didnít think I had the wherewithal to fight idiots and their blind-belief ideals. I thought all I could do was just wait and let them see for themselves, the mistake made in electing Bush. There is now a long list of stupid decisions made by this Administration. Hopefully the years of the Depressed Democrat Party are over. IMHO, this will still take leadership and facts that cannot be seen as disgruntled dems with no power. And that will depend on strong investigative reporting.

There were three things that struck home. The first and in connection to the head nodding of Carl was this remark by Woodward pointing out the difference in these two men and how they worked together. It struck me that Carl was the person I could identify with most being a hotheaded bottom line kind of guy and Bob being the much needed slow talking, meticulous fact checker:

WOODWARD: Well you just heard Carl say in his view that we're right at a point where the Irvin Senate Watergate Committee investigation began. Why I love Carl is sometimes he gets ten steps ahead of the facts. I'm not sure we're there. He might be right.

Then there was the remembrance of their editor and rules to live by in dark times like we live in today:

KING: How do you change it, Bob?

WOODWARD: Well, I don't know. You know, I'm not an editorial writer. I'm not qualified and not so inclined.

I think one of the things, and this goes back to the theme maybe of "All the President's Men" or what we're talking about, you need real inquiries that explains what's going on, that you need to get one of the old managing editor at "The Washington Post," the late Howard Simons, one of the great editors.

He was our editor on Watergate. He always would talk about get your flashlight out. Shine it in a dark corner. Well, there are so many dark corners out there, and probably not enough flashlights.

Finally to you and all the folks out there helping the general public through these times the line from one of the best movies out there on investigative reporting and a good rule any day of the week:

God damn it when is somebody going to go on the record in this story? You guys are about to write a story that says the former attorney general, the highest ranking law enforcement officer in this country, is a crook. Just be sure you are right.

Posted by: painter45 on February 19, 2006 1:13 PM

About the only TV I see anymore is Countdown, and when it's over, I usually flip over to Larry King, just in case, and then, 9 nights out of 10, I turn it off.

So I, too, saw the show Buck mentions, and it was most heartening, at least Bernstein's part. He was saying the things being said on blogs and on the highways and byways of life and reflected in polls, words like "liar" that just don't make the MSM.

I guess there's a good reason Bernstein isn't on TV much.

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on February 19, 2006 2:19 PM

FYI--It's going to be rebroadcast this evening at 9:00 EST.

Posted by: blogstituent on February 19, 2006 2:58 PM

I saw the show, as with another commenter, always watch countdown, and then turn to Mr. King's show, and I sat with my mouth open, in shock, and then danced around for about 10 minutes!!! I also was heartened by this, and realize it may just die down, but I don't think so!!! I believe that Mr. B. will give the MSM a very good push in the right direction (these guys ARE the most famous journalists...ever!). Perhaps, dare we dream, they will be responsible for bringing to justice not only Tricky Dicky, but also King George. Bringing down The Chimp will be tougher, but of so sweeter!!!

Posted by: on February 19, 2006 4:01 PM

okay, only problem is Bernstein is by no means an MSM figure ... rejected and marginalized over the years. Hasn't played the game, and therefore not a player. Woodward is the accepted, establishment man.

Posted by: sinful on February 20, 2006 12:22 AM

Woodward is either a "meticulous fact checker" or has been totally corrupted by power and money. When you are profiting off the system, sometimes it is difficult to see the obvious corruption and the obvious flaws.

Bernstein gets it. Everything in our political system has been reduced to money. Follow the money. That's all there is. Values beyond that are just for dreamers.

Posted by: tstreet on February 20, 2006 10:03 AM

Bernstein made excellent points, but isn't part of the MSM. Woodward is not only MSM but is deeply in the Bush administration's hip pocket. After all, unlike with Nixon, Woodward's now the authorized scribe of the Bush administration and has greatly increased his fame and fortune in the process.

Woodward explained a lot about his work when he said he has no interest or bent for writing editorials. So true. I'm always astonished how lacking in -critical- focus his comments are, especially considering the wealth of detail he knows about this administration.

As with other Republicans, perspective is everything. I wondered why he spoke at such length, often saying so little that was relevant to the question, until I realized that he's mastered the art of giving interviews with the -appearance- of critical points which aren't critical at all. Although Larry King allowed him to speak much more, Woodward left no lasting impression (except for scoffing at the end that Hillary wouldn't like it that Bernstein thinks "we still don't -really- know her". Which wasn't what he said or meant).

Bernstein made great points but, sadly, won't have much impact. He's just another of the handful of marginalized MSM who are trying to get critical factual points out, really don't have much access or impact on the public. (I loved it, though, that he did the interview in New Orleans, and strategically placed himself in front of a still-uninhabitable house).

At least he'll get some press time when he tours with his Hillary book. The press will hit him hard for it--and use his tour to dredge up every falsehood and ugly rumor about her that they can--but he can obviously hold his own and isn't afraid to speak up. It bodes well for Hillary in '08 that Bernstein has decided to set the record straight.

Can't wait for his book tour--and seeing him back on LKL, for the full hour. Without Woodward.

Posted by: jsinclair on February 20, 2006 11:43 AM

Woodward sold out years ago. Bernstein hasn't, bless him, but he's far less prominent than Woodward these days.

Posted by: Frederick on February 20, 2006 5:49 PM
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