‘Harper’s’ Now Questioning Bob Woodward’s Speeches and Foundation

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By: E&P Staff

After criticizing Washington Post columnist David Broder Thursday for giving speeches to business groups, Harper’s magazine writer Ken Silverstein now says Bob Woodward is doing much the same thing.

Silverstein also writes that the Watergate reporting legend’s charitable foundation — which reportedly gets money from Woodward’s speeches — gives some of its donations to places like an elite private school.

“Well, it turns out that the Post’s Bob Woodard, like Broder, has had a rewarding career speaking to corporate groups,” noted Silverstein, citing the American Council of Life Insurers, American Bankruptcy Institute, American Frozen Food Institute, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, and various other organizations.

“What does he do with the money?,” the Harper’s writer asked. “He and his wife have a foundation (The Woodward Walsh Foundation), so maybe the money is going there — in which case he’s still getting a tax break. A review of the foundation’s records shows that a good chunk of its donations go to Sidwell Friends, a well-funded elite private school in Washington, D.C., that his children have attended.”

Silverstein said he could not reach Woodward for a response. Neither could E&P when Woodward’s office was called Friday afternoon.

In a second piece, Silverstein wrote that Woodward used to question journalists going on the lecture circuit. “But based on what I’ve found,” he added, “Woodward has given dozens of speeches over the past five years (often at cushy resorts).”

Silverstein continued: “In his 1996 ‘Frontline’ interview, Woodward said he gave all of his lecture money to … the Woodward Walsh Foundation. Woodward seems to have greatly increased his speaking appearances in recent years, which probably helps explain why his foundation’s assets have soared from … $347,602 in 2000 to about $1.8 million last year.

“Yet the foundation doesn?t seem to do much genuine charitable work. Last year it doled out a meager $17,555 in grants. Over recent years more than half of the foundation’s money went to Sidwell Friends, one of the richest private schools in Washington (with a reported endowment of over $30 million) that caters primarily to the children of the local elite (like Woodward’s children).

“Meanwhile, the foundation has also supported needy causes like ‘Citizens for Georgetown Trees,’ which prettifies Woodward’s neighborhood, the ‘Little Folks Nursery School’ (‘For the 2007-2008 school year, the tuition is: For morning only — $12,150. For the full day — $14,900’), and In Town Playgroup, a private daycare outfit.”

The Harper’s writer concluded: “It makes one wonder what Ben Bradlee thinks of all this. You’re corrupted if you take money from corporate groups, but not if you give the money to charity? Even if it’s your own personal charity, and you get a tax break, and most of the contributions go to elite causes of direct interest to the donor? This looks to be the same sort of double-dealing and hypocrisy that Bob Woodward — at least the old Bob Woodward — would have been all over as a reporter, if a political figure were involved.”

Silverstein’s two Woodward pieces can be seen here and here.

E&P’s Thursday story about Broder can be seen here.

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