Flashback: Wallace & Woodward Mock Bush’s Smarts and Belief in Freeing People

Tonight's 60 Minutes will feature Mike Wallace's interview with Bob Woodward about Woodward's new book, State of Denial, full of charges of Bush administration misdeeds. The last time the duo got together -- in 2004 when 60 Minutes similarly promoted a Woodward book, Plan of Attack -- Wallace ridiculed President Bush and Woodward played along. The MRC's CyberAlert recounted how on the April 18, 2004 edition of 60 Minutes, Wallace mocked President’s Bush’s smarts and belief in freeing people from oppression.

Wallace demanded: “Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?” Wallace also jeeringly proposed: “The President of the United States, without a great deal of background in foreign policy, makes up his mind and believes he was sent by somebody to free the people -- not just in Iraq, but around the world?” Woodward shared Wallace’s concern: “It is far-reaching, and ambitious, and I think will cause many people to tremble.” Having established Bush’s irrationality, Wallace moved on to wondering “how deep a man is President George W. Bush?” Woodward contended: “He is not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker.”

An excerpt from the April 19, 2004 MRC CyberAlert:
....The second of the two April 18 60 Minutes segments promoting Woodward’s book ended with this discussion between Wallace and Woodward, who holds the title of Assistant Managing Editor of the Washington Post:

Woodward, referring to Bush on Iraq: “The President still believes, with some conviction, that this was absolutely the right thing, that he has the duty to free people, to liberate people, and this was his moment.”

Wallace: “Who gave George Bush the duty to free people around the world?”

Woodward: “That's a really good question. The Constitution doesn't say that's part of the Commander-in-Chief's duties.”

Wallace, acting astonished: “The President of the United States, without a great deal of background in foreign policy, makes up his mind and believes he was sent by somebody to free the people -- not just in Iraq, but around the world?”

Woodward “That’s his stated purpose. It is far-reaching, and ambitious, and I think will cause many people to tremble.”

Wallace: “How deep a man is President George W. Bush?”

Woodward: “He is not an intellectual. He is not what I guess would be called a deep thinker. He chastised me at one point because I said people were concerned about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction. And he said, 'Well you travel in elite circles.’ I think he feels there is an intellectual world and he has indicated he's not a part of it.”

Wallace: “Has a disdain for it.”

Woodward confirmed: “He has expressed that. That’s right.”

Wallace chipped in: “For the intellectual world.”

Woodward: “The 'fancy pants’ intellectual world. What he calls 'the elite.’”

Wallace: “How does the President think history will judge him for going to war in Iraq?”

Woodward: “After the second interview with him on December 11th, we got up and walked over to one of the doors. There are all of these doors in the Oval Office that lead outside. And he had his hands in his pocket, and I just asked, 'Well, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war.’ “And he said, 'History,’ and then he took his hands out of his pocket and kind of shrugged and extended his hands as if this is a way off. And then he said, 'History, we won’t know. We’ll all be dead.’”

With that, 60 Minutes went to Wallace for some final comments on the 60 Minutes set. After claiming that keeping the book’s allegations secret prevented them from getting a White House reaction, which they would welcome for next week, Wallace noted how Viacom owns both CBS News and the publisher of Woodward’s book, but his words betrayed his disdain for the suggestion of any improper influence: “Incidentally, for the record, though it had nothing to do with our reporting this story, Bob Woodward’s publisher, Simon and Schuster, is owned by the same company we are, Viacom.”
Simon and Schuster is also the publisher of State of Denial.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center