This week New York is running an excerpt from Jeff Himmelman's Yours in Truth, a biography of legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee that's got one high profile critic—The Post's Bob Woodward—comparing the author to the master of dirty tricks. Woodward believes Himmelman did him wrong by insinuating that Bradlee, his editor on the Watergate stories, questioned the veracity of Woodward's reporting. "Did Ben really have doubts about the Deep Throat story, as it had been passed down from newsroom to book to film to history? " asks Himmelman in the story, headlined The Red Flag in the Flowerpot.
What Himmelman is refering to, is a piece of an interview between Bradlee and fellow journalist Barbara Feinman which took place when she was helping him craft his memoir, where Bradlee said:
Did that potted [plant] incident ever happen? … and meeting in some garage. One meeting in the garage? Fifty meetings in the garage? I don’t know how many meetings in the garage … There’s a residual fear in my soul that that isn’t quite straight.
On the surface--that's a damning (and a daring feature story) story: A much admired editor questioning a history-making piece of reporting. But Woodward quickly responded, talking to Politico's Dylan Byers last night to say, "There’s a transcript of an interview that Himmelman did with Bradlee 18 months ago in which Ben undercuts the [New York] piece... It’s amazing that it’s not in Jeff’s piece ... It’s almost like the way Nixon’s tapings did him in, Jeff’s own interview with Bradlee does him in."