Nel's New Day

September 4, 2018

Kavanaugh, Woodward, Plus More News

Democrats may not win the fight to keep Brett Kavanaugh out of the Supreme Court, but they’re putting up a good show. Only two nominees—Robert Bork and Harriet Miers—had lower poll ratings, and neither one was confirmed. Only 38 percent of people want Kavanaugh on the high court, and 39 percent think he should not be confirmed. Women in particular dislike him in their 46 percent opposition. One reason might be that he tried to imprison a 17-year-old immigrant pregnant from a rape although the Supreme Court has ruled that she had the right to one. Rachel Maddow has a 21-minute segment about Kavanaugh’s behavior on the bench that doesn’t match his assurance to gullible Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” In her opening statement at the hearing, Sen. Diane Feinstein explained how Kavanaugh has already ruled against Roe v. Wade. [visual]

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Kavanaugh started today, less than 15 hours after the White House finally released 42,000 pages of documents about him. In a fit of speed-reading, Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claimed that he and his staff had reviewed all these documents in less than three hours. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) still withholds 93 percent of the records from the time when Kavanaugh was White House counsel and staff secretary for George W. Bush by invoking presidential privilege although Bush cleared the records for release. Some of these may have had to do with Kavanaugh’s support for torture. The White House alerted reporters to the Democrats’ comments, perhaps to show their obstruction. But instead the message may have been that an unindicted co-conspirator has nominated a justice for the nation’s highest court, one who he hopes will exonerate him by ruling that the president is above the law and refuses to release the nominee’s records.

Kavanaugh may also face questions about his possible lying under oath in an earlier confirmation hearing.

In a bad photo op for Kavanaugh, he refused to shake hands with the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was murdered at the Parkland (FL) high school earlier this year. Feinstein had introduced Fred Guttenberg (left) in the committee chambers so Kavanaugh knew who he was. Kavanaugh stared at him for a short time before he turned and walked away. When Kavanaugh returned, he bragged about coaching his daughter’s basketball team. Footage of the interaction with Guttenberg shows that the White House lied to cover up for Kavanaugh’s rude behavior.

Just when people thought that DDT had stopped fighting with AG Jeff Sessions, DDT spent the last day of his Labor Day weekend lambasting Sessions for the indictments of Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) for misusing campaign funds/fraud and insider trading/securities fraud. DDT’s objection is that he wants the DOJ to hold off on prosecuting the charged congressional members so that they can win their districts. He is a loser in this argument; almost two-thirds of people oppose firing Sessions and back investigator Robert Mueller.

“So I have another bad book coming out. Big deal,” said DDT in a conversation with Bob Woodward about his new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, about DDT’s time in the White House. DDT spent most of the talk either claiming that he would have liked to talk to Woodward for the book, saying that no one had ever told him, and explaining what a wonderful job he was doing. Woodward told at least six people with access to DDT that he wanted to talk to DDT, but DDT claims that no one except maybe Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) had mentioned it to him. Kellyanne Conway admitted on the conversation that Woodward had talked with her about an interview with DDT.

Woodward writes that DDT’s closest aides, including Gary Cohn and Rob Porter, hid papers from his desk to keep him from signing them because they viewed DDT as a danger to national security. Woodward reported that Chief of staff John Kelly described Trump as an “idiot” and “unhinged,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said DDT has the understanding of “a fifth or sixth grader,” and former personal lawyer John Dowd called DDT “a fucking liar,” telling DDT he would end up in an “orange jump suit” if he testified to special counsel Robert Mueller. Dowd resigned the day after DDT told him that he would be a “real good witness.” DDT called AG Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner”; DDT told Rudy Giuliani what he’s “like a little baby that needed to be changed.” Explaining his strategy in Afghanistan, DDT told his generals, “You should be killing guys.” Fortunately, Mattis didn’t kill Bashar al-Assad in April 2017 as DDT requested. The book portrays DDT as lonely and increasingly paranoid, obsessed with the media’s perception of him and with his base.

Fox analyst Howard Kurtz debunked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ defense by pointing out that sources for Woodward’s book are current as well as past employees.

U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia forces are deliberately bombing dozens of Yemeni civilians—some of them at least 40 children riding on a school bus in Yemen when they were taking a rare field trip. On the day of the attack, the head of the coalition stated that the bus was a “legitimate military target.” Later the report indicated that the attack was “unjustified” but only because the suspect was not on the bus, not that they had killed children. The U.S. sold the bomb to Saudi Arabians after DDT lifted the ban on these sales. DDT has said nothing about the tragedies in Yemen.

Desperate for new headquarters, the FBI lost their chance to move out of downtown Washington, D.C. across DDT’s hotel to the suburbs. DDT likely scuttled the deal to keep another hotel from moving into the area. Federal employees were ordered to not discuss any of his comments. To keep the FBI headquarters in place, officials greatly underestimated the cost of not moving the facility.

The white man who murdered two people at a video game tournament in Jacksonville (FL) and then turned the gun on himself to commit suicide has been described as having a mental illness. His easy access to guns was not responsible for the tragedy according to the state AG Pam Bondi; she blames the gathering of people to play video games, for example the football video game Madden. Intent on wiping out any taint of domestic terrorism by white men in the United States, Politico joined the myth by exonerating Timothy McVeigh of any terrorism. In 1995, the 27-year-old white man bombed a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 680 others. Sam Anderson maintains that McVeigh was no terrorist—he was just depressed because his favorite football team, the Buffalo Bills, had started losing. Given his sad life, Anderson claims, “it is easy to imagine how this young man might have been lured into making a bad decision.” The article was abstracted from Anderson’s book Boom Town. Is it possible that the United States could reduce the murder and domestic terrorism rate by banning video games and football?

Pope Francis has a solution for the allegations that he covered up sex abuse by church leaders and lied about knowing nothing regarding his meeting with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. He called for silence.

When he ran for president, DDT’s name was on 19 brands; now it’s on just one—furniture sold by a Turkish company selling Trump furniture.

DDT has reached 60 percent—in his disapproval rating. His approval rating is 36 percent, and 53 percent think that his interference with Mueller’s investigation is obstruction of justice. At 63 percent, an additional ten percent support the investigation. Mueller’s case against Manafort received 67 percent believing it was justified, and two-thirds oppose DDT’s pardoning Manafort. Sessions also gets 64 percent support from being fired, and 61 percent believe that DDT committed a crime if he told Cohen to make hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

DDT makes up his own approval ratings. In a call to a radio talk show, he said that he adds “another 7 or eight points’ to the existing approval rating, and at a rally in North Dakota, he recommended adding 12 to any of his polls.

DDT has greatly helped ratings for MSNBC and Rachel Maddow in particular. In August, MSNBC was the second-most-watched network across all of basic cable, and The Rachel Maddow Show was number one for total viewers on cable TV for the last week of August and top the 25-54 demographic throughout August, beating Sean Hannity. While MSNBC’s ratings rose over that in 2017, both CNN and Fox went down. All the MSNBC shows—Chris Hayes, Laurence O’Donnell, Brian Williams, Ari Melber, Hallie Jackson, Nicolle Wallace, Katy Tur, and Ali Velshi—had substantial gains and record-breaking numbers. Kudos to genuine news instead of screaming people and fake propaganda.

March 25, 2013

Woodward Teaches Readers to Question

Ever since I saw the movie All the President’s Men, I have considered Bob Woodward my hero because he was instrumental in bringing down a corrupt president using illegal actions to win his second presidential election . What a difference 40 years makes. Compared to George W. Bush, Richard Nixon doesn’t look too bad, and Woodward has become almost a villain.

Woodward’s legendary reputation may have finally ended when he accused White House senior official Gene Sperling of trying to intimidate the journalist. According to Max Holland, however, this fictionalizing seems to be a pattern for Woodward throughout his entire career. In adopting the style of New Journalism, Woodward and his co-author, Carl Bernstein, employed a novelistic style for what should have been a non-fiction book. Newspaper editor Barry Sussman said that the two were “wrong often on detail” about what happened in the newsroom and that they tended to “sentimentalize” their information.

Since the Woodward/Berstein papers were opened in 2007, other problems can to light in the inconsistencies between the notes of interviews with Deep Throat, aka Mark Felt, and how these notes were used in the book. It appears that statements attributed as quotes in the book may not have been Felt’s words and may be substantially altered. The book also has information not included in the notes.

References to the so-called Canuck letter, a 1972 letter to the editor of the Manchester Union-Leader, also never appeared in the notes. This letter alleged that then-Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Edmund Muskie had used the term Canuck to refer to constituents of French-Canadian descent around the time of the New Hampshire primary, and Woodstein alleged that the letter typified the “dirty tricks” thought up by the Nixon White House or campaign.

When Holland asked Woodward about these discrepancies, Woodward said, “I may have had a distinct recollection [while we were writing the book, and reviewing the notes] that something was in quotes … and so I may have put quotes in it.” These discrepancies also appeared in reporting aboutJudith Hoback, the bookkeeper for the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP). The book quotes Hoback as saying, “But Sally [Harmony, burglar Gordon Liddy’s secretary]—and others—lied.” In Bernstein’s notes from the interview, however, Hoback never asserts that anyone at the CRP “lied.”

All the President’s Men gave the impression that Mark Felt was leaking the information out of principle. The authors wrote that Deep Throat “was trying to protect the office [of the presidency], to effect a change in its conduct before all was lost.” Evidence shows, however, that Felt may have used these leaks as a tactic to undermine L. Patrick Gray, acting director of the FBI, and become FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover’s death. A top Justice Department official said, “[Felt] had enough contact with the press that he might have tried to use his Watergate information to hurt Gray.” Yet Woodward has always called Felt a “truth-teller.”

Since Watergate, Woodward has diligently tried to show that his investigation into Watergate wasn’t just a fluke. Like Orson Welles and his one-time success withCitizen Kane, Woodward spent his life looking for another success like the one he had at the age of  30. He never lost the craving to retain the high respect he gained from revealing the Nixon scandals.

Yet Woodward continued to have questionable episodes. In 1987, he reported a four-minute interview with CIA director William Casey; the family disagreed with Woodward’s description of its unfolding and conclusion. In the Valerie Plame affair, Woodward ridiculed a investigation into the leak of a CIA officer’s name without telling the public that he was the first reporter to be told about the leak.

Worse was his treatment of Jeff Himmelman, hired to research Woodward’s 2000 book Maestro, a “fawning tribute to Alan Greenspan,” according to Holland. Greenspan was the Fed chairman whose ideology brought about the worst recession since the Great Depression. At the same time, Himmelman gained access to the papers of Woodward’s former editor Ben Bradlee and found an interview. Among these were notes showing that Bradlee felt that the representation of Woodward’s meeting with Deep Throat in the underground garage was inaccurate. Disturbed by Himmelman’s report of Bradlee’s statement, Woodward smeared his book, calling it “alarmingly dishonest” and a “total dishonest distortion.” Woodward compared Himmelman with Nixon on Politico.

Describing All the President’s Men and its aftermath, Holland wrote:

 “[Woodward and Bernstein] wrote a self-glorifying account of their role, seemingly altered information from their notes, apparently reneged on a pledge to Deep Throat, then later downplayed evidence that Mark Felt was leaking for self-interested reasons. And finally, when a former Woodward lieutenant came across some facts that undermined the narrative that Woodstein had dined out on for decades, Woodward responded to this heresy by attacking the writer’s integrity.”

As Dennis Johnson writes,

How reliable is Bob Woodward? From the very first there have been those who thought, well, he was making shit up. Lots of people questioned whether there ever really was a Deep Throat, for example, when All the President’s Men came out. Even after former FBI associate director Mark Felt claimed to have been Deep Throat, doubts continued that the former agent–his mind clearly fogged by age–was quite the drama-prone informer depicted in the book.

“Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment noted one of the better known counterpoints in his book, In Search of Deep Throat–that Simon and Schuster editor Alice Mayhew, who edited All the President’s Men, “told [former presidential counsel John] Dean that she was the one who had invented the detective story structure for the reporters’ book.

“Woodward’s second book, The Bretheren, co-authored by Scott Armstrong, contained so many outlandish assertions about the behavior of Supreme Court Justices behind the scenes that, in a front page review for the New York Times Book Review, Renata Adler famously declared that every sentence in the book should end “with the caveat ‘if true.’”

After riding on the Watergate explosion for almost 40 years, Bob Woodward lost all credibility when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox show and attacked President Obama’s past relationship with Ayers. The release of emails between Woodward and Sperling show a collegiality far from Woodward’s accusations of being threatened. It is a sad ending for a formerly venerable reporter.

The message from Woodward’s debacle is that so-called journalists’ reporting is always subject to doubt. So-called non-fiction books may be enjoyable reading, but their accuracy must always be questioned.


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