I, myself, had one unlikely brush with Bob Woodward. It happened in the early spring of 2013, when, while squiring my Danish friend and then-editor Lars Hedegaard around town on a visit of his to D.C., I found myself sitting across a Washington dinner table from Woodward.
Recently, Lars had miraculously survived an assassination attempt outside his home in a suburb of Copenhagen and was enjoying, if that's the word, an intense burst of interest in his affairs in new quarters. In some cases, I couldn't decide whether the interest was genuine or rubber-necking.
The dinner Lars was invited to was at Michael and Barbara Ledeen's house. I had met Michael before but did not know the other guests, and was simply there as Lars' companion. When the party had assembled, it included, besides the Ledeens, Lars and me, a daughter of the Ledeen's (the one who worked with or would work with Gen. Flynn in Afghanistan, I am guessing), Richard Perle, Ron and Allis Radosh (I know, I know), and Bob Woodward.
There was something surreal about suddenly and unexpectedly being within pass-the-butter range of Historic Media Figure Woodward, which I tried to express in a syndicated column I wrote after the evening. It was Lars' night -- he also wanted to raise the profile of his newspaper, Dispatch International -- but as concern with his personal near-death experience did not seem to extend too deeply into the Islamic war for Europe, abetted by European elites (and covered by Dispatch International), the conservation soon flowed back into channels familiar from any "media roundtable."
But I wanted to ask a question or two that never make it onto the networks or cable. For starters, I really wanted to ask Woodward the Nixon-Slayer about Obama's problematic (read: fraudlulent) identity docs. Had the Intrepid One ever actually examined them for himself?
Had this journalistic personage ever had the curiosity to download and examine the online document posted at the White House website that purports to be President Obama’s long-form birth certificate? Had he ... ever weighed any analysis or investigation that concludes the online document is a digitally created forgery? Or did this exemplar of the Fourth Estate simply take the White House at its word?
There is this weird force-field that exists on MSM studio sound stages, in mainstream Washington social settings, that requires a certain oomph or even obnoxiousness to shatter. It's fun, but you have to be up for it. (I will never forget when I first personally sensed its force while sitting in a remote CNN studio, preparing to appear on the old Lou Dobbs show, checking and rechecking my notes, determined to affix the "S" word onto Candidate Obama's policies -- which I did and was promptly accused of "Red-baiting" twice by another guest. Bonus: I was not invited back before the 2008 Election and never again a regular. More here. We might look back on this anecdote as a milestone of the period when the currently popular "socialist" word was verboten, just as America was about to elect one to the White House.)
I was more or less a fly on the wall at this dinner; but when would I ever have this opportunity to raise the topics I was interested in?
Following the dinner, I wrote:
From the ongoing chatter, it became clear such topics would have the allure of stink bombs. So much conventional wisdom flowed about A-list topics such as “Obama and Boehner” and “what would Israel do about Iran?” that I felt as if I were in a rerun of a Sunday news show. At one point, the timing of the killing of Osama bin Laden came up. Why, after knowing the al-Qaida leader’s whereabouts for eight or nine months, did Obama suddenly order a strike on May 2, 2011? It was all-around baffling.
At this point, I might have introduced my topic of interest. I could have noted that the death of bin Laden erased the birth certificate issue from the news, where, thanks to Donald Trump and author Jerome Corsi, it actually was commanding new levels of scrutiny that had prompted the White House to release its online document at a press conference on April 27, 2011. A few days later, boom – bin Laden was dead. Wasn’t that a little bit interesting? Imagining in response the cold, revolted stare reserved for unwelcome bugs, I said nothing.
I knew it would be hard to launch such a conversation without any context, which too often describes the condition of public discourse on the many issues that go uncovered or incompletely covered. In this instance, I was once again struck by the fact that my own local outlet, the ... Washington Examiner, had followed a blanket policy to reject any column I wrote about the Obama eligibility issue.
I'd almost (but not quite) forgotten that.
Accordingly, the paper refused to run the column I devoted to that April 2011 press conference that the White House called exclusively to mark the release of Obama’s online birth certificate.
This event was a Perkins Coie production, it is now worth flagging. One Perkins Coie partner retrieved the Obama document from Hawaii, another ran the press gaggle that introduced it (one reporter even got to touch it).
In the here and now, I would have to explain everything. I could never claim his ... attention for so long, so I let the moment pass.
Rather amazingly, a question did come up as to whether this in-the-know Very Important Media Person had ever seen Obama’s college records. “No, why?” the VIMP replied, as if the question was whether he had ever read the instructions for using a doorknob. Later, the VIMP’s tradecraft became evident: “I don’t think anything matters about Obama before the day he began serving as president.”
That's a direct Woodward quotation.
Here, most likely, was also the answer to my question: Nope, the VIMP wasn’t interested in eyeballing Obama’s online identity artwork. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, fraud, it didn’t matter. Nothing pre-presidency did – not even, I was told, consideration of Obama’s mentors, beginning with communist Frank Marshall Davis, and not even when it came to trying to parse Obama’s political ideology.
I guess we might say #FakeNews cuts both ways. It's either battering ram or protection racket. But it's never as simple as journalism.