In blogger Erik Wemple’s Washington Post post today about THE ROGUE and me, his fourth or fifth or sixth over the past ten days–I’ve lost count–he quotes Bob Woodward in response to my op-ed piece in USA TODAY, in which, in explaining why I needed to use a few unnamed sources in THE ROGUE, I quote Woodward as defending the practice.
“”It’s the only method, if you’re going to get an unlaundered version of what occurred,” Woodward has said.
I also quote Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, as saying, “The Times and other major news organizations have relied for centuries on anonymous sources.”
And I cite the fact that since Feb. 10, 2010, both the Times and the Post have quoted anonymous sources more than two thousand times each.
It seems that Wemple, newly hired as a blogger on media by the Washington Post, is eager to impress his bosses, of whom Woodward, given his legendary status there, would have to be considered as one.
So Wemple asks Woodward for comment on McGinniss, and Woodward, who has been unhappy with me ever since I gave his book about John Belushi a bad review in the New York Times Book Review in the mid 1980’s, (yes, authors do hold grudges for that long) is quick to oblige.
“He’s hiding under an umbrella that I didn’t put up,” Woodward obligingly says.
Bob, I understand that you want to help out your new hire.
But please do not ever again accuse me of “hiding.”
I didn’t hide from the death threats I got last summer for living next to Sarah Palin on Lake Lucille.
And when I guaranteed confidentiality to a few Alaskan sources for THE ROGUE–even though more than sixty spoke to me on the record–it wasn’t to protect them from not being invited to Georgetown dinner parties. It was because at least their livelihoods, if not their lives, were at stake.
I don’t know how long it’s been, Bob, since you did any reporting outside the Beltway. As I recall from the Belushi book, it didn’t go well when you tried.
In any case, I’m still out there: talking to people who couldn’t find Georgetown on a map.
I’ve been doing this since 1962: almost fifty years.
I’ve never tried to hide.
And if I ever did, it sure as hell wouldn’t be under your umbrella.