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WAPO Reporters Embarassed by Woodward

On Meet the Press Sunday, two Washington Post reporters acknowledged being baffled and embarassed by reporter Bob Woodward's actions in failing to disclose his involvement in the Valerie Plame leak investigation to his editor for more than two years.

Arianna takes Russert to task for following the standard playbook and failing to follow through on the bigger issue:

It was a great opportunity for Tim to look at the broken conventions regarding confidential sources and the broken trust between the public and the press.

But instead, Tim went right back to the old playbook and the old problem: "Every source I believe is going to want complete assurance that if I give you this information, will you refuse to testify even if it means going to prison." Stunning though it may seem, Russert really believes that the main problem raised by Judy Miller's and Bob Woodward's roles in Plamegate is: how does the press repair the damage done between journalists and anonymous sources?

The critical question, Arianna says, is under what conditions should the press guarantee anonymity?

Meet the Press transcript (link above)

David Broder, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, as you know, has testified before Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel. What's going on at The Post, in light of that?

MR. BRODER: Consternation, to be honest with you. I think none of us can really understand Bob's silence for two years about his own role in the case. He's explained it by saying he did not want to become involved and did not want to face a subpoena, but he left his editor, our editor, blindsided for two years and he went out and talked disparagingly about the significance of the investigation without disclosing his role in it. Those are hard things to reconcile.

MR. RUSSERT: Gene Robinson?

MR. ROBINSON: I agree with David. Consternation, a certain amount of embarrassment. And, you know, the fact that we can't understand why Bob did what he did. You know, I think that's a very interesting question in this whole incident about confidential sources, about access, about the tradeoffs that we all make for access in granting anonymity for sources. And, you know, I think that's going to continue. I think people are looking at us skeptically.

Post Reporter Howard Kurtz takes a different angle today, giving much shorter shrift to Woodward's critics, whom he mostly attibutes to being leftists. He doesn't mention Broder or Robinson's criticism, and instead quotes Bob Leen's praise of Woodward. He also goes to great lengths explaining why Woodward's exalted status at the Post is justified, even when juxtaposed against his perks of the job:

Under Woodward's unusual relationship with The Post, he stays on the payroll while mainly writing books from his Georgetown home, with the paper carrying excerpts -- and providing a publicity boost -- upon publication. This has sparked some resentment among the staff

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