Sunday, October 24, 2004

22 Softballs

Bob Woodward spent some months talking with top Bush Administration officials. As a result of those interviews, Woodward wrote two books.

Woodward wanted to have an interview with John Kerry to discuss his reactions to the Bush war machine. This weekend a frustrated Woodward published twenty-two questions for Senator Kerry, since the promised interview never materialized.

It is interesting that if Kerry had accepted the interview, the likely result would have been a story that totally ignored Woodward's actual questions. The Washington Post does not publish transcripts of its inteviews; it offers summaries, paraphrases and a few direct quotes. By simply quoting Kerry about what Bush had done wrong, Kerry would have appeared a more focused, more knowledgeable executive who had a clear idea of how a war operation should be conducted.

Because Woodward is publishing his questions, unanswered, Woodward makes plain both his bias, and the format by which an opposition candidate can be steered into offering a precise critique of an Administration, for publication by a supportive media outlet.

Each of Woodward's questions is preceded by an anecdote of the Bush Administration. Then Woodward asks one or more leading questions:

7. In July 2002, President Bush secretly ordered that some $700 million be spent on 30 major construction and other projects to prepare for war. Congress was not involved or informed.

Questions: How would you seek a relationship with the leaders of Congress so that they would be informed of such secret work? Should congressional leaders have an idea where you are heading? What should be the overall role of Congress in preparing for war?

...9. On Nov. 8, 2002, the U.N. Security Council unanimously (15 to 0) passed Resolution 1441 on new weapons inspections in Iraq. Powell thought it was a critical victory, putting the United States on the road to diplomatic success.

Questions: What did this mean, now that Saddam seemed isolated and friendless in the world? Was strategic victory -- getting Saddam out of power -- possible through diplomacy or by continuing diplomacy and weapons inspections?

...22. Asked in December 2003 how history would judge his Iraq war, Bush suggested that history was far off. "We won't know. We'll all be dead," he said.

Questions: How do you judge his Iraq war? What do you think history's verdict is likely to be?

I don't think there's any question that Editor Woodward tried to pass a list of biased, leading, softball questions to the candidate his paper is endorsing.

The question is, how regularly does he try this stunt?

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