Woodward, Bernstein: Press Needs to Return to In-Depth Reporting

Monday, 16 Jun 2014 07:56 PM

By Greg Richter

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Many of the conservative groups targeted by the IRS have compared the scandal to Watergate, and CNN's Jake Tapper brought up the comparison Monday when he had famed Watergate investigative journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on his show, "The Lead."

Tapper noted that the IRS's claim that it has lost a vast amount of former agency official Lois Lerner's emails that Congress has subpoenaed in the scandal sounds a lot like the erasing of 18 ½ minutes of tape recordings related to the Watergate scandal.

Bernstein said he doesn't see an exact comparison, because President Richard Nixon was directly involved in the Watergate scandal, but it hasn't been proved that President Barack Obama had knowledge of the IRS targeting scandal.

"At the same time, you would hope that some Democrats would say, 'Could we please get some answers from the IRS?' – not just the Republicans," Bernstein said.

Story continues below video.



Woodward was critical of how cutbacks in journalism have hurt on-the-ground reporting.

One of his bosses at The Washington Post once said you can't understand anyone in a single afternoon, he said, so the current reportage by phone and email to be put on air or on the Internet instantly makes in-depth coverage impossible.

On the current crisis in Iraq, Woodward said, "If you rewind a little bit you realize a decision was made to leave no troops there, and that decision was insufficiently covered, like almost everything in Washington."

And the primary loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wouldn't have come as such a surprise if there had been enough reporters on the ground talking to people in Virginia, he said, "because people were not sent down there to live."

Turning to Hillary Clinton's current book tour, which most observers believe is a prelude to a presidential run in 2016, Bernstein was skeptical.

"We've never anything like this. This is a huge Clinton-choreographed operation, about the most famous woman in the world. A celebrity more that a politician," Bernstein said. "We are all extras —  and the press especially —  in this Clinton-choreographed production."

Bernstein, who has written his own biography of Clinton, said it is the press's job is to find out who she really is, what is going on, whether she is connecting with people and being factual.

"But right now, she is in control of this huge locomotive," he said.

Woodward said the press should look not only in more in-depth into Clinton, but they should investigate all the candidates hoping to sit in the White House.

"The bottom-line lesson of Watergate is, it makes a big difference who's president," he said.

"And if you look at Nixon, if you look at a lot of presidents, we didn't do our job in the media in describing who these people really were."


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