Each week we ask a question of our staff and featured writers to learn a little bit about them and gain some insight into where they are coming from.
This week’s question is:
Let’s look beyond game journalism for a minute. In recent months, Bob Woodward, one of the men who uncovered Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal, has been accused of getting starry-eyed after being given direct access to President Bush and his administration. Critics say the first two books he published on the Bush administration read more like Woodward didn’t attempt to dig beyond the administration’s rhetoric, simply taking their word at face value. What’s your opinion on the criticism, and do you think Woodward has lost a step?
Michael Zenke, “Game Journalists on Game Journalism”
If Woodward experienced a little eye-glazing from his time in the President’s shadow, it’s obvious that he eventually came out of it. State of Denial, published just two months ago, is a stinging indictment of the administrations policies in Iraq. To tie this in with gaming journalism, it’s obvious that Woodward was writing those first two books while looking at pre-retail code. Once he’d had the chance to see how poorly the multiplayer worked, experience the flawed economics simulation, and notice the show-stopping bugs, he changed his tune for the final review.
Tom Rhodes, Contributor
The question then becomes if his third book, State of Denial, was a response to those critics, or planned all along. Bob Woodward has a lot sitting under that gray hair, and I’ll give him due credit. One possible interpretation is that the first two books, not entirely love letters but mostly uncritical, were just a way to setup for his third tome. The third book took information no doubt collected from such complete access to the administration, finally compiling all the faults that he managed to glean by earning their trust into what has become the most popular of his Bush at War series.
Or maybe he had been steadily losing credibility, to the detriment of his legacy and career, and decided that such a critical maneuver would revive him almost instantly. I will say that, if he planned it from the get-go, then he’s craftier than anyone working at the White House.
Shannon Drake, Industry Relations
Woodward is like a lot of Boomers. He started with high ideals, but as soon as he got access to high places and power, he sold out as fast as he could. Sometimes, it bothers him, and he makes a half-hearted stab at retaking his authenticity, as is the case with his latest book, but power and comfort is far too sweet to give up. He’s like Bob Seeger or John Melencamp: Just enough rock rebellion to seem “authentic” while still being quite eager to sell trucks.
Russ Pitts, “Fanatical Opinions,” Associate Editor
In true journalistic fashion, I have to suggest that the question itself is misleading. Woodward’s most recent effort was heavily critical of the current administration, and even got him in hot water with the Veep. I don’t think Woodward has “lost” anything. He’s at the top of his game, and we would all do well to be more like him. If, you know, games were as serious as politics. Cliffy B. caught rifling through files inside Bungie’s offices? I can see it. And I’ll go as far as I have to go to get the story.
Joe Blancato, Associate Editor
Honestly, I think he lost a step and ventured into the dangerous realm of believing his own BS. His first two books on the administration basically recorded the same rhetoric we saw on CNN in sound bites for years, which was probably the result of being played by one of the most media-savvy administrations since Theodore Roosevelt. They were able to pick up on his reputation and his arrogance and played each trait against the other, which is a shame given the guy’s great record.
However, his latest book seems to be a rebound. He’s back to asking tough questions, and maybe even finding the real answers to them instead of just parroting what he’s told. We’ll see if his new offering is enough to repair the damage he’s suffered to his credibility.