IN THE SWAMP — This is why America despises the media.
A couple thousand of the most esteemed and rarified reporters gather deep in the bowels of the Washington Hilton for this year’s convening of the mutual admiration society and one of the “grandfathers — perhaps great-grandfathers — of American journalism” uses his position of high authority on national television to promote stock in the company owned by his boss.
“So we are gonna give out these awards and they’re cash awards,” Bob Woodward says, sounding like a grubby politician making some kind of dirty deal in a darkly lit motel room.
“But I understand that the cash is redeemable for shares in Amazon — which may be a better investment.”
That would be the same Amazon that was founded by Jeff Bezos, who now owns The Washington Post and employs Mr. Woodward.
Not sure which is worse: That the self-described “great-grandfather of American journalism” would stoop to hawking his boss’s financial interests on national television or that he did it in a roomful of journalists and no one jumped on the story.
Can you imagine what these hyenas would have done if President Trump had made such a comment? And aren’t there supposed to be strict federal laws about this kind of thing? And also, how much Amazon stock has Mr. Bezos given to Mr. Woodward?
But in this world of Forever Watergate, Mr. Woodward is to never be questioned.
Which is, perhaps, why he gets away with talking like Lennie in “Of Mice and Men.”
“I NEV-VER GOT MY TWEN-TEE DOL-LARS. THE POINT: AG-GRES-SIVE RE-PORT-ING IS OF-TEN NEC-ES-SAR-EE,” he says in slow, halting, deliberate speech.
“THE IN-DIS-PEN-SI-BLE CEN-TRAL-IT-EE OF FACT BASED RE-PORT-ING IS CARE-FUL SCRU-PU-LOUS LIS-TEN-ING AND AN OP-EN MIND.”
For the uninitiated, listening to Bob Woodward talk makes your head hurt. But there was no danger of that since nobody was listening to him. They were all tuned in to Mr. Trump’s fiery speech in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Woodward’s stunning cash grab came after two lengthy lectures about how great the press is.
“We’re reporters, not judges, not legislators” said Carl Bernstein, who is the Arty Garfunkel of Woodward and Bernstein. Eclipsed, not quite as revered. Maybe a little pissed how things turned out.
But here in Forever Watergate, he is still a rock star.
“What the government or citizens or judges do with the information we’ve developed is not our part of the process nor our objective,” he said. “Our job is to put the best obtainable version of the truth out there. Period.”
Then he added: “Especially now.” To roaring cheers.
In other words: Never Trump!
After Mr. Bernstein’s lecture, he turned the lectern over to Mr. Woodward for another lecture — which concluded with his amazing Amazon stock sales pitch.
“Any president and his administration in Washington is clearly entitled to the most serious reporting efforts possible,” Mr. Woodward said.
“Reporters should display modesty and humility, bending over backwards and sincerely not only to be fair but to demonstrate to people we cover that we intend and will be fair.”
In other words, avoid even the appearance of doing anything underhanded or dishonest, such as peddling stock in the company that made your boss a bazillionaire.
Perhaps feeling a little heat, Mr. Woodward also lectured Mr. Trump: “Mr. President, the media is not fake news!”
That was the point at which the gathered luminaries — charitably known as “Hollywood for Ugly People” — applauded most lustily and had to dab tears from their own heroic eyes.
But even Mr. Woodward had to note that the press is not very popular these days — less popular than even Congress.
This, he said, only proves how really awesome the press actually is.
“This is no time for self-satisfaction or smugness,” he said before quoting an old editor of his. “The more aggressive our search for truth, the more some people are offended by the press.”
At least now we now know how Jeff Bezos has become the second richest man on the planet.
⦁ Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.