In 2004, Bob Woodward wrote a book, Plan of Attack, that was largely positive about the Bush administration. White House Counselor Dan Bartlett and other top officials were singing Bob Woodward’s praises:
CONDOLEEZZA RICE: He is terrific. He’s a great journalist, and I look forward to reading it. He’s talking about a pretty complex set of discussions about military issues and diplomatic issues, and I’m sure it will be — be fantastic. [CNN, 4/25/04]
DAN BARTLETT: I think Bob Woodward has done a pretty — particularly good job of describing how complicated of a process it is for a commander in chief to do two real important but sometimes conflicting responsibilities. [CNN, 4/25/04]
BARTLETT: We’re urging people to buy the book. What this book does is show a president who was asking the right questions and showing prudence as well as resolve during very difficult times. This book undermines a lot of the critics’ charges. [Washington Post, 4/21/04]
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: But what is most striking is that, here at the White House, they say read the book. They believe it shows — it paints the picture of a president who asks the right questions, the tough questions, before going to war and then decided that he was right in launching that war. [CNN, 4/19/04]
Woodward has a new book, State of Denial, that is critical of the Bush administration. In particular, it alleges that President Bush and other top officials are misleading the public about Iraq. Now, Bartlett claims that Woodward had “formulated some conclusions before the interviewing began.” Watch it:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, in 2004, Bob Woodward wrote a book, Plan of Attack. You went out publicly, urged people to go buy it and read it. I take it you’re not going to do that with State of Denial?
BARTLETT: Well, George, it is a book that we participated at various levels within the administration, both in the White House and other parts of the administration, Department of Defense and State.
But I must say, George, I think as we worked with Bob on this project from the very outset, it was unfortunate that we felt he had already formulated some conclusions even before the interviewing began.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s a pretty stiff charge. You’re saying he is a biased reporter on this?
BARTLETT: Well, we’ve had a lot of experience with Bob, and I think — in the first two books, as you did mention — and what we found in those books is that he came in very much with an open mind, very much wanting the facts to lead him to a conclusion. And after reading this book over the weekend, I was really struck by the fact that the central thesis of this book, the claim that the president was in a state of denial, that he was misleading the American people about what was happening in Iraq, quite frankly, is not backed up with the own facts that are in the book.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to get there in one second, but before we get there — because you’re making a pretty, pretty serious charge here. You’re saying that Bob Woodward, been around Washington for an awful long time, went into this with an agenda and basically wasn’t an honest reporter.