Bob Woodward and the Temple of Facts

The man who “brought down a sitting president” 25 years ago has just released another pulpy, drama-in-real-life account of men in high places. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate bemoans the culture of scandal surrounding the modern presidency and includes the usual assortment of fly-on-the-wall anecdotes strung together like a TV movie.

Reviewing The Choice in 1996, Jonathan Alter called Woodward a “mindless Sir Edmund Hillary: He climbs for the detail because it is there, gettable by him, even if it tells us nothing.” A year later David Corn deconstructed  a typical Woodward exposé-cum-fact-dump in the Washington Post. And in March “Chatterbox” excerpted a suck-up letter from Woodward to one of his secret sources for The Agenda–Bill Clinton.

In this week’s Slate, Chatterbox explains why Woodward wouldn’t meet the New York Timesreporting standards and examinesShadow’s curiously underplayed revelation that the Clintons may be in couples therapy, while David Carr muses on Woodward-worship in ” The Breakfast Table.”