Why Does Anyone Still Talk to Bob Woodward?

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Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward's new account of the Obama administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan, is the Washington Post reporter's 16th book. The previous 15, all bestsellers, feature similarly paradigm-shifting—if not devastating—portrayals of the nation's power players in Washington and beyond. At a certain point, might it be advisable for the influential and important to, you know, just not talk to Woodward anymore? That's the question Post columnist Kathleen Parker pondered this weekend. Woodward, she points out, shapes more than public opinions. His presence also shapes history. Writes Parker:

Why do presidents give the White House keys to Bob Woodward?

I ask this with all due deference, respect, hat in hand, cape over puddle and other sundry gestures owed by ink-stained wretches like me to the Most Famous Journalist on the Planet.

Through several administrations, Woodward has become president ex officio -- or at least reporter in chief, a human tape recorder who issues history's first draft even as history is still tying its shoes.
The Woodward Syndrome...presents a dilemma for all presidents. By his presence, events are affected. By our knowledge of what he witnesses, even as history is being created in real time, we can also affect these same events. Is it fair to Obama to critique him as he navigates his own thoughts? Or are we interfering with outcomes by inserting ourselves into conversations to which we were never supposed to be privy?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.