I am both amused and empathetic with the plight of Bob Woodward, who is now the focus of a Washington political kerfuffle ignited by his reporting that the sequester idea originated with Barack Obama’s new Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew. That claim led to a White House push back and provoked a response from Bob Woodward. Mr. Watergate was not in the mood to be bullied, especially when he believed that his credibility was at stake.

Woodward, who has been a bit of a “lefty” celebrity for his hard hitting books and reporting on Republicans like Nixon, Reagan, George Bush Sr. and George W, is now a pariah as far as the left is concerned. Matt Welch provides a nice sample of the left’s vitriol:

Josh Marshall, TPM:

Who goes birther first, Scalia or Woodward?

David Plouffe, recently of the White House:

Watching Woodward last 2 days is like imagining my idol Mike Schmidt facing live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.

Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation:

Smart @thenation interns & young folks have no idea who Woodward is but dc establishment freaked about his critique of WH & sequester.

Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress:

My amateur advice: stop cooperating with Woodward in the first place.

Jason Linkins, Huffington Post:

I think Woodward will find people will stop yelling at him the very minute he decides to stop sucking so much at his job.

Dan Froomkin, Center for Accountability Journalism:

Telling egotist Woodward “I think you will regret staking out that claim” isn’t a threat; it’s just not realistic.

Matthew Yglesias, Slate:

Woodward’s managed to make me suspect Nixon got a raw deal.

I have experienced the same phenomena, but from both the right and the left. My advice for Bob? Ignore the assholes and just be yourself.

In the aftermath of the 2001 9-11, I was in great demand to comment on terrorism. That ultimately led to a contract with Fox News, where I was a Fox News analyst and appeared regularly on the network. My downfall came on the Hannity and Colmes show in November 2002, when I opined that an invasion of Iraq would be a diversion in the war on terrorism and that we were not well equipped to fight a two front war. I subsequently learned that my remarks sparked the ire of Rupert Murdoch, who in turn ordered that I not be allowed back on air. Bill O’Reilly, to his credit, was the only one who continued to use me while my contract was in place.

2003 marked the start of the Left’s love affair with me. I was not seeking their approval. They simply embraced what I was saying. I was an early critic of the invasion of Iraq. I came a bit late to the game. My pointed criticism of the Bush Administration cooking the books to build a case for invading Iraq started in May 2003 during an interview on NPR. Then came the outing of my old CIA buddy, Valerie Plame Wilson. I contacted several of our other Career Trainee colleagues (i.e., all of us who entered on duty at the same time and spent a year together in a special CIA training program) and we appeared on Nightline in September 2003 to defend Valerie. Boy, that made us something of celebrities among the left.

I even attended a Daily Kos Convention and spoke with Joe Wilson about the lies of Bush and the intimidation factor. I was adored by the Libs. I became a regular on the Keith Olbermann show on MSNBC. I was working at Fort Bragg scripting a terrorism exercise back in 2004 and got a call from Olbermann’s booker–they wanted me for that night’s show. I explained where I was and they said, “no problem.” When I arrived at the Fairfield Inn after working that day, a satellite truck was sitting in the parking lot with cables snaking into a first floor room. The gals at the front desk were very excited–a TV crew was on site. I did the interview with Keith that night sitting on a chair at the foot of the bed while the cameraman sat on the toilette.

Needless to say, consorting with the left made me a pariah of the right. It did not help things that I appeared in the documentary OUTFOXED, describing how Fox executives tried to shape the news and comments to support the Bush Administration. I was not pandering to a political agenda. I was simply telling what I knew from firsthand experience.

The left turned on me in 2008 when I declined to board the Obama bandwagon. I had the audacity to report on his ties to terrorists and hardcore lefties. I had the gall to describe him as an untested, inexperienced politician devoid of any substantive leadership experience. That made me a target of hatred by many on the left. I used to write regularly for Josh Marshall at TPM Cafe and for the Huffington Post. Those venues went away.

You may not like what I write or agree with my positions. But understand this (and this is advice for Bob Woodward as well)–I am not writing to win friends or accolades. I write what I know, based on my experience and take positions that I believe are morally and ethically correct.

So, I watch the blowback and switching of positions underway with respect to Bob Woodward with a twinge of nostalgia. Been there done that. Bob, my advice to you is simple–just tell the truth and be true to yourself. You may lose popularity and following, but you will at least have your integrity intact.

UPDATE–As some of you have noted below (you know who you are, and thanks), Woodward is not alone in being the target of White House petulance and ire. Aging Democrat and staunch Clinton supporter, Lanny Davis and the National Journal’s Ron Fournier tell a very similar story:

I had angered the White House, particularly a senior White House official who I am unable to identify because I promised the person anonymity. Going back to my first political beat, covering Bill Clinton’s administration in Arkansas and later in Washington, I’ve had a practice that is fairly common in journalism: A handful of sources I deal with regularly are granted blanket anonymity. Any time we communicate, they know I am prepared to report the information at will (matters of fact, not spin or opinion) and that I will not attribute it to them.

This is an important way to build a transparent and productive relationship between reporters and the people they cover. Nothing chills a conversation faster than saying, “I’m quoting you on this.”
The official angered by my Woodward tweet sent me an indignant e-mail. “What’s next, a Nazi analogy?” the official wrote, chastising me for spreading “bull**** like that” I was not offended by the note, mild in comparison to past exchanges with this official. But it was the last straw in a relationship that had deteriorated.

As editor-in-chief of National Journal, I received several e-mails and telephone calls from this White House official filled with vulgarity, abusive language, and virtually the same phrase that Woodward called a veiled threat. “You will regret staking out that claim,” The Washington Post reporter was told.
Once I moved back to daily reporting this year, the badgering intensified. I wrote Saturday night, asking the official to stop e-mailing me. The official wrote, challenging Woodward and my tweet. “Get off your high horse and assess the facts, Ron,” the official wrote.

Where is the outrage among the Democrats? And while Republicans are now climbing on the bandwagon, they were remarkably quiet when the Bushies went after reporters who challenged them on Iraq. My point? I want consistency. I don’t give a hairless rat’s ass about party affiliation. This is about the abuse of power by the Executive branch. While no one is getting locked up in jail over this (yet), this smacks of the same tactics employed by the likes of Castro, Chavez, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc.

And it is quite appropriate to remember the full quote from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.
  • duoma




    princess nancy questions patriotism of west point grad and retired army congressman

    PS, I have an lot of questions about hers



    why is this not a surprise?? backtrack bunch give oil deal in the gulf of Mexico to china, but his donors benefit



    check this out. backtrack signs memo against whistle blowers.
    federal employees may no longer tell the truth about government to the people that pay for the government


    Capitol superintendent denies President Obama’s claim that staff will receive pay cut due to sequester – @politico

    • getfitnow

      He/she better be careful. May discover a horse’s head in their bed.



    syrian rebel leader slams US aid. wants arms.

    my I in my own Irish American way say ” screw him”



    this is a story that people rarely talk about. We were lucky this time but how many others have crossed or will cross our borders that are sick like this man and can spread it over a very wide area?

  • HARP2

    Barry now looks like Don Quixote, chasing windmills.

    • HELENK2

      yeah but the windmills are like the solar panels just swallow the money or should I say blow it away?

    • KenoshaMarge

      Don Quixote? More like Don Knotts



    janet napolitano now saying the release of the jailed illegal aliens was too quick. blamed career officials



    Breaking… Obama signs order to begin spending cuts http://t.co/k2fvjz1enq #BreakingNews #wkyc #breaking_news

    OMG break out the soylent green

    • buzzlatte3

      LOL! President Panic (Hannity) signs to begin armageddon. Wait nothing happened…


    Dr Carson is on Hannity. says the backtrack bunch told him NOT to offend backtrack before his speech at the prayer breakfast.

    Will someone tell this bunch it is our right and duty to speak out when our paid employees are doing things wrong and hurting the counrty

    • buzzlatte3

      Dr. Carson’s integrity just went off the charts!

    • getfitnow

      The other issue is this breakfast isn’t for POTUS. POTUS is a guest, a participant like everyone else.

      These people make me sick

  • http://twitter.com/ignatzz Ignatz


    • HARP2

      Is that you “Rochester” ?

  • Popsmoke

    By the way Graham your nothing but a AIPAC SUCK HOLE….

  • Popsmoke

    This is really stupid fucking shit… What the hell is wrong with these assholes?
    Let the budget axe fall and fall HARD!

  • FloridaFI

    As usual, Larry you are being way too alarmist.

    BTW, I’ve packed up the wife and kids.

    I just need to know the departure schedule at the train station taking us to the summer camp retreat in the Appalachians.

    Our local government officials made it sound so nice.

    We can’t wait to get there.

    Larry, will you be joining us there?


    Fort Hood shooting suspect may plead guilty if allowed to plead to lesser charges – @AP

    • getfitnow

      What would that lesser charge be — littering? /s

      How much more can we take?


    the next dooms day is March 27th. OMG if something is not done the government will shut down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    they have not done much lately will anyone really notice if they do shut down?? maybe some of the deficit will get paid since the congress critters and their denizens will not get paid and the money can go toward that.


    just on tv

    backtrack bunch provided heavily redacted documents on Benghazi. when congress complained the provided a second set TODAY not so redacted. Since most of congress is out of town they will not be looked at until next week among other issues.

    they do have a sense of timing to try and cover up things don’t they



    something to watch in the supreme court.

    according to valerie jarrett two judges down two to go.
    after reelection congress no problem
    control of all three branches of government backtrack bunch’s dream

    • DianaLC

      Couldn’t give you a thums up on this; it’s too depressing to think about.


    Iowa Hawk

    #OnTheSceneSequesterReport SANDRA FLUKE NOW AN OCTOMOM

    • DianaLC




    Canada says no to funding syrian rebels. worried that islamic extremists are taking over the rebellion


    this made my day

    This girl is a keeper!!!!
    It happened at a New York Airport. This is hilarious. I
    wish I had the guts of this girl. An award should go to the United
    Airlines gate agent in New York for being smart and funny, while
    making her point, when confronted with a passenger who probably
    deserved to fly as cargo. For all of you out there who have had to
    deal with an irate customer, this one is for you.

    A crowded United Airlines flight was canceled. A
    single agent was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travelers.

    Suddenly, an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his
    ticket on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has
    to be FIRST CLASS.”

    The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try
    to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first; and then I’m
    sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

    The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that
    the passengers behind him could hear, “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?”

    Without hesitating, the agent smiled and grabbed her

    public address microphone. “May I have your attention, please?”, she
    began, her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a
    passenger here at Gate 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can
    help him with his identity, please come to Gate 14″.

    With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically,
    the man glared at the United Airlines agent, gritted his teeth, and said, “F*** You!”

    Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry sir,
    you’ll have to get in line for that, too.”

    Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to
    dance in the rain.



    something to think about
    backtrack’s sequestration plan works to perfection



    important read

    once again congress did NOT read the whole bill before they voted on it. a couple of amendments added that are just sickening.

    talk about War on Women



    I did not realise this. backtrack has still never said a word to honor SEAL Chris Kyle.
    no class and low class

    but on the other hand
    the family of Chris Kyle really does not need the hypocrisy of backtrack



    the Blue Angels will be grounded due to backtack’s sequester.

    how many kids saw them and found a dream for the first time?
    I want to grow up and do that, what do I need to do and what do I need to study to be able to do that?

    backtrack the dream killer

    • KenoshaMarge

      Well when Obama is given his druthers about cuts…



    from Ace of Spades
    today is the anniversary of the death of Andrew Breithbart.
    whether or not you agreed with him he had no fear of politicians of either side.
    Do I wish we had more reporters like him and less stenos owned and operated by the white house? HELL YEAH

    • HELENK2

      The left does not win its battles in debate. It doesn’t have to. In the
      twenty-first century, media is everything. The left wins because it
      controls the narrative. The narrative is controlled by the media. The
      left is the media. Narrative is everything. I call it the Democrat-Media
      Complex–and I am at war to gain back control of the American