Missing from his Post

Speaking at Harvard University Monday night along with his old colleague Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward told the audience they could contact or email him at the Washington Post newsroom. (More about the Watergate duo's Cambridge appearance in tomorrow's Boston Phoenix.) Good luck. Everyone knows that at this point, Woodward is bascially a Post employee in name only.

Here is an excerpt from a story in The New York Observer in which Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr., a straight arrow and straight shooter, candidly admits that communication with Woodward can be difficult.

Asked to explain why he'd been out of touch, Mr. Downie replied, "Because he's a rich man, who has an entire floor of his house as his office, and he has a staff of his own working for him. He doesn't come into the office so much. We have to take the initiative to talk to each other."

Mr. Woodward has no direct editorial oversight at The Post. And despite his title, Mr. Woodward hasn't edited a story for the paper in years, Mr. Downie said. He writes for the paper when he wants. When he's pursuing a book project, he discusses some of the content with Mr. Downie.

Given the embarassment Woodward caused the Post by not informing his editors of his 2003 conversation with a government official about Valerie Plame, isn't it time for the Post to give him a title like "Investigative Reporter Emeritus" and stop pretending he works for the paper? It's a pretty cynical relationship.

Imagine someone in your office who works at home, spends almost all his time on his own ventures, has vital information that could help your company but often doesn't share it, and yet is considered a top executive with the perks and privileges of power. Doesn't seem right.
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