The New Bob Woodward Book That's Making The White House Tremble

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In early May, White House Counsel Greg Craig circulated a memo inside the West Wing. Part of a series of memos on protocol, it explained how to deal with writers researching books and articles on the White House. (Craig's unsurprising instructions: Clear interview requests with the press office.) While the memo didn't mention any journalists by name--and while there are currently no fewer than half a dozen major reporters under contract to write books about the nascent Obama presidency and the 2008 campaign, any of whom could conceivably end up embarrassing the administration--there is one person in particular the White House is undoubtedly nervous about: Bob Woodward.

Since the inauguration, the Washington Post legend has been quietly reporting a new book on the Obama White House. "I'm in the preliminary stages of working on it," Woodward confirmed to me by phone recently. "I'm working on it and making progress."

Officially, the White House says it is not adopting a press strategy to respond to Woodward. Ben LaBolt, an Obama spokesman, wrote in an e-mail that the Craig memo "was not issued in relation to any inquiry related to a specific reporter or author." Still, there is reason to think that Woodward might make the administration particularly anxious. "Every White House is wary of Woodward, " says New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, who worked alongside him at the Post. What's more, Obama's White House is known to hate process stories, exactly the sort of exhaustive, in-the-room descriptions of high-level debates at which Woodward excels. And, even worse, Woodward has some extra motivation to fill his next book with big scoops. His fourth and final Bush book, The War Within, sold just 159,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan, far below his third Bush installment, State of Denial, which sold more than half a million. "The last time I talked to him about books, earlier this year, he had been lamenting the fact his last Bush book didn't sell as well," one of Woodward's friends told me.

And an especially hungry Bob Woodward is especially bad news if you're one of the people being written about.

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Vernon Clayson - 6/5/2009

Re-read Mr. Mathewson's comment and diction. and it's easy to see the author of this comment is antagonistic towards the New Republic. I have to wonder why he finds it odd that antagonism to any politician is in any way remarkable, perhaps he thinks we should be like North Koreans and call Obama "Dear Leader".

Tim M. Matthewson - 6/5/2009

Re-read the story and the authors diction, and it's easy to see that the author of this note is antagonistic toward the Obama Administration.

Michael Green - 6/5/2009

Well, bear in mind that Woodward started out as little more than a publicist for Bush, then began reporting more accurately and questioningly once others in the mainstream media began following the lead of some lesser-known reporters who were reporting the truth. So, if Obama is popular, Woodward's book will reflect that. If he is in trouble, Woodward will be on that bandwagon.