Woodward to Media: Be Aggressive With Military

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By: E&P Staff

Giulia Lasagni – Medill News Service

Journalists need to be more aggressive when they cover the military and deal with public officials, said acclaimed Washington Post reporter and editor Bob Woodward, who spoke Friday at the Military Reporters and Editors Conference.

“There are too many cases when people in the military get away with saying things that are just not plausible,” Woodward said at the event.

Woodward, the author of 16 non-fiction bestsellers, recently published “Obama’s Wars,” a detailed account of the critical – and often divisive – decisions made by President Obama’s administration regarding the war in Afghanistan.

Despite a reputation as one of Washington’s most aggressive journalists, Woodward acknowledged that on one recent occasion he was not “aggressive enough.”

Woodward said that right after the first leaks about his book were published in The New York Times, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asserted in a news conference that Woodward’s interview with him – which Woodward said was meant to be used as background, a sometimes complicated journalistic ground rule – didn’t get into specifics about issues.

“How many believe that’s an accurate reflection of the interview?” he asked.

Woodward said he faulted himself for releasing the transcript of the interview.

“In fact we talked about issues,” he said.

For Woodward, episodes like this are revealing of larger media dynamics.

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